I was pretty surprised to come across Beyond Magnetic on my local record store shelves. I thought this was supposed to be an exclusively digital release, but apparently, the fans demand was so strong that the band eventually decided to release the “physical” EP version.
These B-sides from the Death Magnetic sessions were originally a gift the band had made to its fanclub members. Then the songs were released on Itunes, and the feedback was extremely positive, so what the hell, why not put out a low-price CD? Great idea & an excellent way to move on after the DISASTEROUS LULU.
And that also explains the very minimalistic packaging: very simple cover, no booklet, just a cool picture on the back of the CD. At first, I was disappointed, but I have to admit it makes sense. These are only B-sides, and obviously the band just wanted to make them available for old farts like myself that absolutely WANT the physical CD. No need for a fancy packaging, bonus songs and useless linear notes. Simple cover, cheap price and most importantly: 4 very good songs; no more, no less, I kind of like that idea.
Simple yet very classy cover...
These 4 songs were originally composed and recorded during the Death Magnetic sessions, and they were eliminated when the band had to choose the final tracks. The songs are in their rough mix, non-edited version. They are pretty long; as you get 30 minutes of Metallica on that 4-song EP, and they sound indeed like rough mixes full of ideas, different riffs, breaks…
There are 2 ways to “analyze” that EP. The first one is pretty simple: these songs are really cool, I personally LOVE “Just a Bullet Away”, with it’s awesome riff and very cool/typical melodic break in the middle.
Your second option is to try and understand WHY these songs weren’t on the final Death Magnetic tracklist; especially that as said, they are pretty good.
If you listen carefully, you can clearly tell that these songs are more “rock” oriented than Death Magnetic; that had a clear METAL orientation. I mean listen to the “Hell And Back” riff; it sounds like it escaped from the Load/Reload sessions! If you dig a little further, these songs actually sound like the perfect transition between St Anger and Death Magnetic! Maybe St Anger wasn’t just a horrible accident after all…(OK, most of you Metal fans want to hang me now).
And that is probably the reason why these songs didn’t make it on Death Magnetic: they sound a little different, with a more rock’n’roll vibe, whereas the band wanted to make the Metal & Thrash orientation very clear. Makes sense…
And that’s why I’m glad Metallica did release that EP because I personally love it when they inject that groove and rock vibe into their music. I’m actually a fan of many Load/Reload songs and I enjoy a lot of the St Anger Riffs (I did say RIFFS, not songs J). Another funny “coincidence”: the band’s black & white picture on the back of the CD: really looks like a picture from the Load/Reload period!