Poetic musings about death are helpful inasmuch as listeners accept mortality and prepare for eternity. Metallica emphasizes the former, describing death’s inevitability, finality and the futility of trying to outrun it. The whispers of a dark deceiver sound a lot like Satan on “The Judas Kiss” (“[I] followed you from the dawn of time/… In the heart of feeble man/Plant the seed of my own plan”). The band empathizes with a boy in a loveless home enduring violent abuse (“The Day That Never Comes”). Songs allude to a heaven and a hell.
On “That Was Just Your Life” vocalist James Hetfield says he wants the world to die. That cut and others use macabre imagery to convey the grim rot of death. “Broken, Beat & Scarred” mentions rape and the spill of blood, while “My Apocalypse” relays snapshots of a grisly accident (“Crushing metal, ripping skin/Tossing body, mannequin/… Mangle flesh, snapping spine/Dripping bloody valentine”). References to suicide range from the title of an instrumental track (“Suicide & Redemption”) to “Cyanide,” a song that seems to offer release in death by one’s own hand (“I’ve already died/You’re just the funeral I’ve been waiting for, cyanide … It’s peace at last”).
The progenitors of thrash return to their roots on Death Magnetic, a concept CD of sorts fixated on the grave. But without hope for what lies beyond, fans are left to do a postmortem on one band’s morbid fascinations.
After serving as an associate editor at NavPress’ Discipleship Journal and consulting editor for Current Thoughts and Trends, Adam now oversees the editing and publishing of Plugged In’s reviews as the site’s director. He and his wife, Jennifer, have three children. In their free time, the Holzes enjoy playing games, a variety of musical instruments, swimming and … watching movies.