METALLICA's 'Death Magnetic' Is REVOLVER Magazine's 'Album Of The Year'

December 19, 2008

Revolver magazine has named METALLICA's "Death Magnetic" the "Album of the Year," and recently talked to frontman James Hetfield about the record and the critical acclaim it's been winning. An excerpt from the chat follows below.

Revolver: What did it take, personally, between the four of your to make a record like this?

Hetfield: Personally? A lot of respect. A lot of communication, and a lot of focus when we are there. There's a lot of honesty, and, y'know, giving honest feedback that's helpful for the project, not just button-pushing and twisting knives. Stuff that's really honest and will make the project better. And I think we're all getting a little better at that; our skin is a little thicker, and we're able to let stuff we don't think fits bounce off, y'know. And working with [producer] Rick Rubin, we learned a lot about that!

Revolver: You learned about having a thick skin?

Hetfield: Well, you're putting your heart out there, y'know? And anyone who writes music or writes like you do knows that you put your heart out there with your art. And when someone judges it, of course that's going to hurt, but you either have to have the confidence of, "Yes, OK, I can make it better," or "Part of this guy's statement make's sense — this part doesn't," and roll with it.

Revolver: Can you give a specific example from one of the songs where you needed a thick skin?

Hetfield: Well, riff-wise, I'm pretty damn confident. But when it comes to lyrics, that's when it gets even more personal. It's coming from somewhere, and you're not really sure where it's coming from. No matter how external, it's digested by you; it's attached to your life somehow. Whether it's your upbringing or recent events or whatever it may be, it's attached, and you've got to have feeling in it, and that means there's an opportunity to have feelings hurt. So when you're writing lyrics and someone says, "Meh, that's not so good," you think, Wow, OK. 'Cause they're basically saying your life isn't so great! It feels kind of like that, because you're putting yourself so far out there. But being up to the challenge — that makes more sense to me. Getting all pissed off and rewriting works in one way, but taking the challenge is always good. So there were quite a few lyric things. There were quite a few on some songs, just as we would do on Lars [Ulrich, drums] doing a certain drum roll and say, "Meh, you can do better than that, try a few things." We did that, where they said, "Those lyrics are OK. Try something else." There were quite a few on this record. They didn't sit down and analyze every little thing like Rick did on this record, but I sat at Rick's house in his bare-bones living room, where he's got basically a white leather couch and a big-ass stereo, and we sat there and went through it. We were basically looking for stuff that moved us: "This moved me. That moved me. I don't know what the Hell these words mean," you know? Even [the title] "Death Magnetic", what the hell is that? I don't know, but it moves me! It's got emotion to it! We looked for a lot of that, and through the past, even the earlier records had a lot of that cryptic attraction. You didn't know exactly what it was, but the minute you sang it or felt it, you knew what it meant.

Read more of the interview at

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