Sound — 8
Raw, uncomprimising, unpolished bad ass album. Originally I thought, "What the f--k!? Where's the grunt?" But after listening for 10 minutes or so, I really liked the sound, even the snare on Lars' drums! It matches the raw sound perfectly in my opinion. I'm 35 years old and started listening to Metallica in 1988 and I reckon they are the best metal band ever seen. After the Master Of Puppets and even the fanastic but not well produced ...And Justice For All album, they really started to experiment with different stuff, and why not? They have always done their own s--t, from Kill'Em All to today. People who criticize groundbreaking bands such as Metallica are pretty narrow minded. Bands of todays youth such as Linkin Park, Limp Bizkit etc. owe it to bands like this that they are even on the radio. Metallica changed to drop D tuning not to follow nu-metal, oh no, they did it to show them what metal should sound like, badass! Now they (nu-metal) can go and practice, and maybe learn some real chords.
Lyrics — 8
The only thing I needed to hear was James howling "Some kind of monster" followed by "This monster lives!" That to me sound like a man who has finally realised his meaning here. He's done the therapy thing, but he's still angry. Instead of rejecting it, he is embracing it because he's sober and has realised we're all f--king angry, and he has the ultimate outlet for us all, Metallica!
Overall Impression — 8
I think (hope) that this is an initial move back to the "real" Metallica. Precise, mean, hard metal. It's a way to get those fans who have come on board since the Load/Reload albums to adjust back to their old/new style, a kind of crossroads. I think we are witnessing something pretty cool with this album, the next one will be old school, traditional tuning thrash metal I believe, to bring Metallica full circle in their career and cement their spot as the greatest metal band ever.