18 Things You Might Not Know About Metallica's Death Magnetic
By Dave Basner
September 12, 2019
On September 12th, 2008, Metallica released their ninth studio album,Death Magnetic. To mark its anniversary, here are 18 things you might not know about the record:
1. The album began in early in 2004, less than a year after the release ofSt. Anger, when James Hetfield revealed that the band had been playing new material. By October of ’04, the group had 50 hours of jam sessions from their tour with hundreds of riffs, chord progressions and bass lines that they planned to flesh out in the studio in 2005. In March of 2006, the group said they had six to seven songs from the jam session tapes and by May, they said they had 15 songs written.
2. Producer Rick Rubin was at the helm of the effort, making it the first album since 1988’s …And Justice For All to not be produced by Bob Rock.
3. Rather than work on songs as they recorded them like the band did with Bob Rock, Rick Rubin wanted the tracks as close to finished as possible before they were recorded.
4. Metallica recorded Death Magnetic at Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, California, Shangri La Studios in Malibu and HQ in San Rafael, California.
5. The album featured ten songs, but the band recorded 11 for it. The extra track, titled “Shine” and later named “Just a Bullet Away,” was, according to Rolling Stone, something James “based around a Layne Staley type, a rock & roll martyr magnetized by death.” It didn’t make the final cut due to the constraints of CD.
6. Other songs the band wrote for the album but didn’t record include “Hell and Back,” “Hate Train” and “Rebel of Babylon.” The group went on to play all four unreleased tracks live at their 30th anniversary concerts and offered them to fan club members as a download.
7. “The Day That Never Comes,” the lead single off the album, had the working title “Casper.”
8. Lars Ulrich said that the lyrics to “The Day That Never Comes” were inspired by a father-son relationship.
9. James and Lars reportedly argued over the song “Broken, Beat & Scarred.” Hetfield wasn’t thrilled with the title, but Lars stood his ground, making sure it kept that name.
10. “All Nightmare Long” was influenced by author H.P. Lovecraft, who once wrote about the Hounds of Tindalos. James described them as “wolves that hunt through their nightmares and the only way you can get away from them is stay within angles (120 or less).” He called them “another crazy mindf**k.”
11. Hetfield told MTV that “The Unforgiven III” is a “continuation of the same storyline about sin and consequence, forgiveness and unforgiveness,” following the songs “The Unforgiven” off the Black Albumand “The Unforgiven II” off of ReLoad.
12. “The Judas Kiss” references The Bible, when Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus by kissing him.
13. Guitarist Kirk Hammett helped inspire the title of the album. He brought a photo in of Layne Staley as the band was recording. James started thinking of a title that could serve as a tribute to musicians who have died like Layne. He then got to thinking about death and how, like a magnet, some people are drawn towards it while others are afraid of it and repelled by it.
14. James told Rolling Stone the band also considered calling the album Songs of Suicide and Forgiveness.
15. A French record store began selling the album ten days ahead of its release, causing it to leak online.
16. Death Magnetic went on to get five Grammy nominations and won the award for Best Metal Performance for “My Apocalypse.” Rick Rubin also got Producer of the Year for his work, and the album also won for Best Recording Package.
17. Death Magnetic debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, selling 490,000 copies in just three days since it came out on a Friday and not the typical Tuesday. It was the group’s fifth consecutive studio album to debut on top of the chart, making them the only band to hold that honor.
18. The record has been certified two-times platinum for sales over two-million copies.