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Death Magnetic is the ninth album by American heavy metal band Metallica, released on September 12, 2008 through Warner Bros. Records. It is the band's first studio album to feature current bassist Robert Trujillo, as well as the first to be produced by Rick Rubin. Death Magnetic is also the band's first studio album released through Warner Bros., although they still remain with Warner Music Group, which also owns Elektra Records, their previous label (internationally they remain on Vertigo Records). The album is the band's fifth consecutive studio album to debut at number one on the Billboard 200 in the United States, making Metallica the first band ever to achieve five consecutive number one debuts.


Writing process

Metallica frontman James Hetfield revealed that the band had been playing new material during studio sessions, but that there was no mention of plans for a ninth studio album at that time. Select music from the jam sessions may be used on the album, as Ulrich stated, "I definitely look forward to sifting through some of that stuff when we get back to the studio in January." On that note, by October 2004 the band had already compiled nearly 50 hours of pre-set jamming, with hundreds of riffs, chord progressions and bass lines. On September 30, 2004, Launch Radio revealed from an interview with Hetfield that the band hoped to return to the studio in spring of 2005 to begin recording their ninth studio album for Warner Bros. Records.

On March 10, 2006, it was reported that the band was planning to use the following six months to write material for the album, in addition to the previous two months they had already been spending writing music. Lars Ulrich also stated that the band was getting along much better in the studio than they did during the recording of St. Anger. On April 6, Lars Ulrich revealed that the band had composed "six to seven" songs, (except for vocals), from their findings of the riff tapes recording during pre-sets of the Madly in Anger with the World Tour. He also said that by this point, the band's new material was reminiscent of "old school" Metallica works, and that it certainly did not feel like a St. Anger "part two".

On May 20, 2006, Kirk Hammett revealed that the band had 15 songs written and were writing on average two to three songs per week. James Hetfield also praised producer Rick Rubin for his production style in giving the band their own freedom and keeping the pressure at a minimum, despite the sessions becoming sometimes briefly unfocused. On May 27, Metallica updated their website with a video featuring information regarding the album. Lars Ulrich, who spearheaded the video, said about the new album:

Recording process

On January 1, 2007, Lars Ulrich stated in an interview with Revolver that the band would be conceiving the album much like they did their albums prior to working with ex-producer Bob Rock; they would sit down, write a select amount of songs, then enter the studio to record them. He also quoted current producer Rick Rubin by saying Rubin didn't want them to start the recording process until every song that they were going to record was as close to 100 percent as possible.

On March 5, Ulrich revealed that the band had narrowed a potential 25 songs down to 14, and that they would begin recording those 14 songs on the following week. He also expanded on Rick Rubin's style of production, saying,

On March 14, the band's official website issued a statement: "Metallica left the comfort of HQ this week to descend upon the greater Los Angeles area to begin recording their ninth original album. This is the first time they've recorded outside of the Bay Area since they spent time at One-on-One Studios recording The Black Album in '90 and '91." This was confirmed on on Mission: Metallica, as a video surfaced showing the crew moving into Sound City Studios of Nirvana fame.

On June 4, bassist Robert Trujillo revealed that only select portions of the two new songs debuted in Berlin and Tokyo respectively would be featured on the album.

The band hoped to have the album finished by October or November, when the album would be mixed. He predicted the album would be out in February 2008. He also revealed that the songs they are working with are quite long.

On February 2, 2008, according to, it was discovered that Ted Jensen from Sterling Sound Studios would be mastering the new record. According to and other sources, Greg Fidelman, who had served as a sound engineer, had also been tapped to mix the album.

Ulrich confirmed on May 15, 2008 that Metallica recorded 11 songs for Death Magnetic, although only 10 would appear on the album due to the constraints of the physical medium. The eleventh song, titled "Shine", was a song Hetfield "based around a Layne Staley type, a rock & roll martyr magnetized by death."

Several unreleased songs from Death Magnetic, including the above mentioned "Shine", but also "To Hell and Back" and "Game", were left off the record, but are rumored to be released as B-sides or on the next album. The titles were confirmed by Hammett and Ulrich on the MetOnTour video from December 20, 2008.

Album title

Lead guitarist Kirk Hammett also played a role in the inspiration of the title, when he brought a photograph of deceased Alice in Chains member Layne Staley to the studio where Metallica was recording. "That picture was there for a long time," said Hammett, "I think it pervaded James' psyche." Wondering why someone with such talent would choose this path, Hetfield started writing a song based on his questions (the unreleased song "Shine").

On July 16, 2008, Hetfield commented on the album's title:

The title is referenced in the track "My Apocalypse". According to Hammett, another title considered for the album was Songs of Suicide and Forgiveness.


In January 2008, a statement was made by Stereo Warning that the album would be delayed until September 2008, but was quickly denied by Metallica's management since an album without a defined release date can not be "delayed". The album, which was completed on August 10, 2008, was released on September 12, 2008 and issued in a variety of different packages.

On September 2, a French record store began selling copies of Death Magnetic, nearly two weeks ahead of its scheduled worldwide release date, which resulted in the album being made prematurely available on peer-to-peer clients. This prompted the band's United Kingdom distributor, Vertigo Records, to officially release the album two days ahead of schedule, on September 10. It is currently unconfirmed whether Metallica or Warner Bros. will be taking any action against the retailer, though drummer Lars Ulrich who was questioned about the leak on a San Francisco radio station responded,

He later told USA Today,

On September 15, 2008, after a reviewer for Swedish daily Sydsvenskan admitted that he preferred an illegal download of Death Magnetic to the official release, a scheduled interview was duly cancelled by Universal Music Sweden. Its president, Per Sundin said:

On the day of the release FMQB radio broadcast The World Premiere of Death Magnetic, which was heard on more than 175 stations across the United States and Canada. The live program from Metallica HQ featured all four members of Metallica talking with Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl and drummer Taylor Hawkins. Originally scheduled for a 90 minute broadcast, the show ended after two hours.

Mission: Metallica

  • ; Experience 2
Digital download of Death Magnetic at 320 kbit/s, ringtones, two live shows, additional two hours of exclusive "making of" footage, 250 photos. Also includes exclusive Mission: Metallica footage of the writing and recording of Death Magnetic, as well as riffs and excerpts from it, exclusive photos and live tracks.
  • ; Experience 3
A physical copy of Death Magnetic CD.
  • ; Experience 4
A box set of Death Magnetic on five 180 gram vinyl LP albums, with five individual sleeves and a Mission: Metallica lithograph. Also includes the same extras as Experience 2 and 3. This set was limited to 5,000 copies.

  • ; The Box Magnetic
A collector's edition white coffin-shaped box which includes a Death Magnetic CD in a special carton box, an additional CD with 10 demos of the songs from the album entitled "Demo Magnetic", a DVD of additional "making of" footage not seen on Mission: Metallica, an exclusive t-shirt with the Death Magnetic logo, a flag, guitar picks, a back stage pass, a fold out coffin-shaped poster with the members of Metallica, and a collector's credit card with a code for a free download of a performance in Europe in September. This set was limited to 2,000 copies.

First songs performed

During their Escape from the Studio '06 tour, the band debuted two songs. "The New Song" debuted on the European leg in Berlinmarker, Germany on . The song, as performed, is approximately eight minutes long. The title was rumored to be "Death Is Not the End" as Hetfield repeatedly sings the line throughout the song. This song would appear again in multiple Fly on the Wall videos on the Mission: Metallica website, showing the band partway through the song's recording, as noted by the slower tempo and lack of lyrics. "The Other New Song" debuted on August 12, 2006 in Tokyomarker, Japan, and is much shorter, taking just below four minutes to perform. To the surprise of fans, Metallica played "The Other New Song" once again on June 29, 2007 in Bilbaomarker, Spain. Although neither of the "New Songs" appear on the album themselves, "The End of the Line" and "All Nightmare Long" both contain elements of "The New Song".

On August 9, 2008, Metallica debuted the first album track, "Cyanide", at Ozzfest, in Dallas, Texasmarker and was performed again on August 20, 2008 in Dublin, Irelandmarker. On August 22, 2008 at the Leeds Festival, they debuted the first single, "The Day That Never Comes.

Guitar Hero

Alongside the release of the album, it was released as downloadable content for Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock. This content would later be optimized later for external use in Guitar Hero World Tour, Guitar Hero: Metallica & Guitar Hero 5 (although "All Nightmare Long" was included on the in-game setlist for the secondary title).

The Guitar Hero DLC had two versions of the instrumental track; "Suicide & Redemption". Each version had its own solo, and were named accordingly to which solo they contained. "Suicide & Redemption J.H." had a solo played by James Hetfield. The other version, "Suicide & Redemption K.H." had the other solo, played by Kirk Hammett.

Due to technicial restrictions, the Wii version of Guitar Hero: World Tour only could hold the three shortest songs of the 11: "Broken, Beat & Scarred", "Cyanide" and "My Apocalypse". These songs also appear on the Wii and PS2 versions of Guitar Hero: Metallica as bonus songs instead of DLC. The 8 remaining tracks will be released on November 24, 2009 as DLC for Guitar Hero 5 and Band Hero.

Live alterations

On July 31, 2009 it was announced on that the band felt that the song "My Apocalypse" was in need of an introduction when played live to "set the mood". The statement on reads, "We've been enjoying playing 'My Apocalypse' out here on the road but felt like it could use something extra. We decided that it needed a cool intro to set the mood so James wrote one. Check out and enjoy this free download... and make sure you learn it for singing along at a future show!" The approximately minute-long introduction is available as a completely free MP3 download.

Cyanide has been extended shortly as well, making it easier to interact with the audience.

Track listing


In a 2007 interview with Rolling Stone, Velvet Revolver drummer Matt Sorum described his impressions of the unfinished songs:

The album's first single, "The Day That Never Comes", was described as the most downbeat track on the album, and is said to be reminiscent of their 1990 Grammy-winning epic breakthrough single "One"; Rock Sound has also compared it to the likes of Thin Lizzy.The band has abandoned the solo-free approach that they followed on St. Anger, returning to complex, multi-layered arrangements such as those typically found on the band's fourth album ...And Justice for All.

Death Magnetic has been praised by fans as well as critics as a comeback for Metallica after the widely panned St. Anger. Thrash Hits was one of the first websites, along with The Quietus to comment on Death Magnetic, suggesting "it is a vast improvement on 2003 album St Anger." Metal Hammer has noted on Death Magnetic's "sharp riffs" and "uncharacteristic bouncing grooves," and compares the band's sound throughout these six tracks to other bands including Slayer, Led Zeppelin and even Rage Against the Machine. Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy has praised the album as well saying "Death Magnetic is hands down the best Metallica album in 20 years. This is the CD I've been waiting for them to make since …And Justice for All. And thumbs up to them for doing the first real Metallica instrumental in 20 years since 'To Live Is to Die'. Welcome back, boys."

While Metallica was on the first leg of their 2008 tour in Europe, a third party at their management Q Prime demanded that media impressions and blogs be taken down for reasons undefined. However, when notified upon their return to the United States, the band was reportedly angered by their management's demands, and drummer Lars Ulrich rectified this issue by posting as many links as Metallica could find on their official website, along with an apology.

Reviews for the album have been mostly positive. Allmusic reviewer Stephen Thomas Erlewine gave the album 4 out of 5 stars, stating that the album is like "hearing Metallica sound like Metallica again". Other positive reviews come from publications like The Guardian, who say that the album is "the strongest material the band have written in 20 years", and Uncut, declaring that "like all the best heavy rock albums, it suspends your disbelief, demands your attention and connects directly with your inner adolescent."


Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
Q UK 50 Best Albums of the Year 2008 #25
Uncut UK 50 Best Albums of 2008 2008 #44
TIME US Top 10 Albums of 2008 2008 #3
Revolver US The 20 Best Albums of 2008 2008 #1
Rolling Stone US Best Albums of 2008 2008 #9
Metal Edge US 50 Best Albums of 2008 2008 #2
Metal Hammer UK Critics' 50 Top Albums of 2008 2008 #1
Kerrang UK Album of the Year 2008 2008 #1
Metal Maniacs US 20 Metal Albums of 2008 2008 #20

Sales and impact

Death Magnetic debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, selling 490,000 copies in just three days of availability. It is the band's fifth consecutive studio album to debut at number one, making Metallica the first band to have five consecutive studio album releases to debut at number one. The album also had the highest first week sales of any Metallica album since 1996's Load.

According to Billboard Magazine, in the September 27, 2008 issue, Death Magnetic landed at number one on the following ten charts: Billboard Top 200, Billboard Comprehensive Albums, Top Rock Albums, Top Hard Rock Albums, Top Modern Rock/Alternative Albums, Top Digital Albums, Top Internet Albums, Top European Albums, Tastemakers, and Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks ("The Day That Never Comes"). The album stayed at number one for three consecutive weeks on the Billboard 200. The album spent 50 consecutive weeks on the Billboard 200 chart. Internationally, the album peaked at number one in 34 countries, including Irelandmarker, United Kingdommarker, Canadamarker, and Australia.

According to The Rock (a New Zealandmarker radio station) the album became platinum on the first day of its release in New Zealand. In addition, nearly 60,000 copies were sold digitally, making it debut at number one on the Digital Album chart. The album debuted at number one in the official United Kingdom albums chart after just three days of availability, selling 75,164 copies. The album remained at number one for two weeks and has sold over 150,000 copies to date. In Canada, Death Magnetic was the number one album for four consecutive weeks, bringing its total sales of 240,000 units sold and became certified 3x platinum.

In Australia, Death Magnetic was the fastest selling album of 2008, selling 55,877 copies in its first full week of release. Death Magnetic was Australia's highest-selling record in one week since Australian Idol winner Damien Leith's The Winner's Journey, in December 2006. The same success was repeated in Germany, where Death Magnetic has become the fastest selling album of 2008. Within the first three days of the album's release, Death Magnetic sold over 100,000 copies and has been certified platinum. According to reports, Death Magnetic is outselling competitors in Russia and Turkeymarker, two countries which don't have an official album chart.

In Finlandmarker, during the second week of January 2009, Death Magnetic jumped eighteen spots back up to number one on that country's album charts within one week. As of January 2009 the album has sold more than 4 million copies.


Death Magnetic was certified platinum (1,000,000 units sold) by the RIAA on October 24, 2008.

Criticism regarding production

The album has been criticized for having compromised sound quality, due to an overly compressed dynamic range, leading to audible clipping and distortion. Sean Michaels of The Guardian explains that "the sound issues are a result of the "loudness war" – an ongoing industry effort to make recordings as loud as possible". A Rolling Stone article states that Rick Rubin was "overseeing mixes in Los Angeles while the band is in Europe, headlining shows" and only communicated with him by conference calls. Fans have noted that these sonic problems are not present in the Guitar Hero version of the album, where the tracks are present separately because of the game mechanics. MusicRadar and Rolling Stone attribute a quote to the album's mastering engineer Ted Jensen in which he claims that "mixes were already brick-walled before they arrived" for mastering and cite a petition from fans to remix or remaster the album. The petition has gained over 21000 votes as of November 26, 2009.

Metallica and Rubin initially declined to comment on the issue, while the band's co-manager Cliff Burnstein stated that complainers were in a minority and that response to the album had otherwise been "overwhelmingly positive". Lars Ulrich later confirmed in an interview with Blender, that some creative control regarding the album's production had indeed been transferred to Rubin but also stressed his satisfaction with the final product.


2009 Grammys

Death Magnetic was nominated for four Grammy awards. Rick Rubin was nominated for "Producer of the Year, Non-Classical" for his work on Death Magnetic, as well as other albums this past year.

  • Best Rock Album
  • Best Metal Performance ("My Apocalypse")
  • Best Rock Instrumental Performance ("Suicide & Redemption")
  • Best Recording Package

The album won two Grammys for "Best Metal Performance" and "Best Recording Package" at the 51st Grammy Awards on February 8, 2009. Rubin received the award as "Producer of the Year, Non-Classical" for the second time.

2009 Kerrang! Awards

Death Magnetic was awarded "Best Album" in the Kerrang! Awards 2009.

Chart performance


Country Provider(s) Peak

Certification Sales/

Argentina CAPIF 1 Platinum 40,000+
Australia ARIA 1 2x Platinum 140,000+
Austria Music Control Europe 1
Belgium (Flanders) Ultratop 1 Platinum 30,000
Belgium (Wallonia) Ultratop 2 Platinum 30,000
Brazil ABPD Gold 75,000
Canada Nielsen SoundScan 1 3x Platinum 240,000+
Croatia HDU 1
Czech Republic All Records/IFPI 1 Platinum 20,000
Denmark IFPI Danmark 1 Platinum 30,000
Europe IFPI 1 Platinum 1,000,000
Finland IFPI 1 2x Platinum 79,415
France SNEP/IFOP 1 Gold 75,000
Germany IFPI 1 2x Platinum 400,000
Greece IFPI 1 Platinum 15,000+
Hungary Mahasz 2 Platinum 6,000+
Ireland IRMA 1 Platinum 15,000
Italy FIMI 1 Platinum 118,000+
Japan Oricon 3 Gold 83,000
Mexico AMPROFON 1 Platinum 100,000
Netherlands GFK/Dutch Charts 1 Gold 40,000
New Zealand RIANZ 1 Platinum 60,000
Norway VG Nett 1 2x Platinum 64,000
Poland ZPAV 1 2x Platinum 40,000
Portugal AFP 1 Platinum 20,000
Spain PROMUSICAE 2 Gold 40,000+
Sweden Sverigetopplistan 1 2x Platinum 80,000+
Switzerland Media Control Europe 1 Platinum 30,000
Turkey Mu-Yap Turkey 1 Gold 8,500
United Kingdom OCC 1 Gold 175,000+
U.S. Billboard 200 Billboard 1 Platinum 1,815,000
U.S. Billboard Top Rock Albums
U.S. Billboard Top Hard Rock Albums
U.S. Billboard Top Modern Rock/Alternative Albums


Single Chart Peak

"The Day That Never Comes" U.S. Billboard Hot 100 31
U.S. Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks (Active Rock) 1
U.S. Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks 5
U.S. Billboard Hot Digital Songs 18
UK Singles Chart 19
Australian ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart 18
"My Apocalypse" U.S. Billboard Hot 100 67
U.S. Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks (Active Rock) 38
U.S. Billboard Hot Digital Songs 30
Australian ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart 38
UK Singles Chart 51
"Cyanide" U.S. Billboard Hot 100 50
U.S. Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks (Active Rock) 1
U.S. Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks 19
U.S. Billboard Hot Digital Songs 22
UK Singles Chart 48
"All Nightmare Long" U.S. Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks (Active Rock) 9
U.S. Billboard Rock Songs 28
U.S. Billboard Heritage Rock 21
"Broken, Beat & Scarred" U.S. Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks (Active Rock) 22
U.S. Billboard Rock Songs 39
Austria Singles Top 75 74
Dutch Top 40 25
Finland Singles Chart 4
France Singles Top 100 36
German Singles Top 100 35


Song Chart Peak
"The Unforgiven III" Australian ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart 41
Canadian Hot 100 89
U.S. Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles 14
Greek Singles Chart 7
Norwegian Singles Chart 9
UK Singles Chart 120
"That Was Just Your Life" Norway Singles Top 20 16



Additional personnel


Release history

Region Date Label Format Catalog #
United Kingdom September 10, 2008 Vertigo Records Compact disc, digipak, deluxe carton box, 2LP (33 rpm), 5LP box (45 rpm 180-gram vinyl) 1773726
Mexicomarker Vertigo Records Compact disc, Super Jewel Case
Austriamarker September 12, 2008 Mercury Records Compact disc
Finlandmarker Mercury Records Compact disc, digipak, deluxe carton box
Germany Mercury Records Compact disc
Japan Universal Music Japan Compact disc, deluxe carton box UICR-1077
North America Warner Bros. Records Compact disc, deluxe carton box, 2LP (33 rpm), 5LP box (45 rpm 180-gram vinyl)
Polandmarker Mercury Records Compact disc, deluxe carton box
Portugalmarker Vertigo Compact disc, deluxe carton box 00602517737280
Switzerlandmarker Mercury Records Compact disc, deluxe carton box
Canada Warner Bros. Records Compact disc, digipak 2-508732
Europe Vertigo Compact disc,Coffin Box Set,Deluxe CD Carton Case 00602517737280
United States Warner Bros. Records Compact disc, deluxe carton box 508732-2
India Universal Music India Pvt. Ltd. Compact disc , digipak , coffin box set 602517737266
Australia September 13, 2008 Vertigo Records/Universal Compact disc, limited edition die-cut deluxe digipak 00602517737280


  1. MetOnTour Video 20th December Confirming The Titles Of The Unreleased Songs
  2. Stereo Warning: Metallica album delayed again until September
  4. METALLICA's 'Death Magnetic' Sold Two Weeks Early At French Record Store?
  5. METALLICA Debut New Song At Berlin Concert, reported by June 6, 2006. Retrieved July 18, 2007
  6. Metallica Debut New Song In Berlin | News @ Ultimate-Guitar.Com
  7. Metallica Perform Another New Song | News @ Ultimate-Guitar.Com
  8. | Download Metallica August 20, 2008, Marlay Park, Dublin, IRL MP3 FLAC
  9. 'METALLICA's ULRICH, HAMMETT Talk About 'The Judas Kiss'; Video Available, reported by September 11, 2008. Retrieved September 11, 2008
  11. The Quietus - first listen to Metallica's new album
  12. DREAM THEATER'S MIKE PORTNOY ON METALLICA'S 'DEATH MAGNETIC' - 09.13.08 - Roadrunner Records Canada
  14. Q Magazine Jan 09, pg.86
  15. TIME Magazine,30583,1855948_1864324_1864334,00.html
  16. Revolver Feb 09, pg.69
  17. Rolling Stone's best albums of 2008
  18. Billboard Chart Peaks
  19. CANOE - JAM! Music - Artists - Metallica: Metallica's 'Magnetic' stays at No. 1
  20. Metallica bricht deutschen Rekord: Über 100.000 verkaufte CDs in drei Tagen - Unterhaltung -
  21. Death Magnetic jumps from #19 to #1
  22. Argentinian Albums Chart
  24. Canadian Albums Chart
  25. Croatian International Albums Chart
  26. Czech Republic Album Chart
  27. Danish Album Chart
  28. European Top 100 Albums Chart
  29. Finnish Albums Chart
  30. French Album Chart
  31. German Album Chart
  32. Bundesverband Musikindustrie: Gold/Platin-Datenbank
  33. Greek Album Chart
  34. Ελληνικό Chart
  35. Hungarian Albums Chart
  36. Irish Album Chart
  37. Italian Album Chart
  38. Japanese Albums Chart
  39. Mexican Albums chart
  40. Mexican Top 100
  41. Dutch Albums Chart
  42. New Zealand Albums Charts
  43. Norwegian Albums Chart
  44. Polish Albums Chart
  45. Portuguese Albums Chart
  46. [ Discos de Ouro e Platina: GALARDÕES 2008
  47. Spanish Albums Chart
  48. Swedish Albums Chart
  49. Swiss Albums Chart
  50. [1]
  52. UK Albums Chart
  53. RIAA Certification
  54. "DVD shoot and album sales".
  55. All Nightmare Long on Billboard's Rock Songs Chart
  56. Chart performance
  57. Charting details

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