Sound — 6
Obviously, it's been said, the sound/production on this album is terrible. But in a way that works. Sounds weird I know but it's so raw and unpolished it really works well with the whole idea of the album. The pinging of Lars' snare pissed me off all over the place for a while but it's something you grow to like, or just stop noticing. True, you have to listen to this album a few times, you can't listen to it once and make a decision, admittedly my first impression was "this is s--t" and for a while joined in the mindless 'tallica bashing. But I gave it another spin, then another and I now quite enjoy listening to it. The fact of the matter is the sound on this album is an aqquired taste, if you listen to it 4 or 5 times and still hate it, well fair enough at least you gave it a shot. If you listen to it once, and say you hate it, you're an idiot.
Lyrics — 6
Lyrics were good, fitted well with the riffs and some of the choruses and verses were damn catchy (Frantic, Invisible Kid, The Unnamed Feeling) Jamses voice is definately not as on par as it has been on all albums previous, but this doesn't neccessarily hinder the album, it works well with the ball-crushingly heavy riffs and off-kilter drums. Nothing sits quite right with the lyrics at first, just like the guitar sound and lack of solos, but eventually you just can't hear it any other way, like I said, you just have to listen to it a few times.
Overall Impression — 6
It's not Metallica at their best, but it's them working towards being back at their best. Personally I'd like to see them go back to their regular tuning and get out of the whole drop-C thing. Just sounds a little bit too nu-metal for my liking. But at least this album kicks the shit out of Load and ReLoad if not for any other reason then simply because it's uncompromisingly heavy and gives a big middle finger to commercial radio. Not great, not crap. Just good.