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Metallica

For nearly two decades, old-school fans of Metallica have cried for the band to return to the thrash-metal sound that made them legendary.

The bitching can finally stop. Metallica's Death Magnetic proves that metal's biggest and most successful band still have the attitude and determination to make meaningful music.

Following the group-therapy session that made up 2003's highly panned St. Anger, Metallica made some necessary changes within their camp to help the group return to form. First, Bob Rock, who's produced every Metallica album since 1991's Metallica, was given his pink slip. Next, Metallica hired renowned producer Rick Rubin to whip their music back into shape.

Prior to recording, Rubin urged the band to get back into the mindset they were in when they recorded their 1986 masterpiece, Master of Puppets. The result is 75 minutes of Metallica's shock-and-awe attack on the metal scene and all of their naysayers over the years. From the ball-breaking opening riff of "That Was Just Your Life" to the final shreds of "My Apocalypse," Death Magnetic is a relentless assault that hardly gives listeners a chance to recover between songs. Even the album's two most melodic songs, "The Day That Never Comes" and "The Unforgiven III," offer crushing jams and guitar solos.

Death Magnetic is arguably Metallica's best effort since 1988's ... And Justice for All. The chorus of the hammering track "The Judas Kiss" best sums it up: "Bow down, surrender unto me." Bow down to Metallica--because they're back.

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