Metallica released the 4-song-29-minute Beyond Magnetic EP, originally only as a digital download on iTunes, on December 13, 2011. The band went on to release the EP also on CD on January 30, 2012, and then a 5,000 pieces limited vinyl edition on Record Store Day 2012.
The four songs were recorded for the 2008 album release, Death Magnetic, but were not used. Personally, I find these four songs to be amongst the best one’s, if we consider the whole session, Death Magnetic and Beyond Magnetic.
Hate Train, track 1, reminds me of Metallica’s cover of Breadfan, one of the two B-sides on their 1988 Harvester of Sorrow single. The song brings a good and solid uptempo metal groove and mean guitar riffs with it and it catapulted me back to …And Justice For All times. The song caught my attention and made me crave for more old-school Metallica music.
Just a Bullet Away, track 2, is not as strong as the opener, but has a certain energy that brought back memories of Metallica’s Fuel album. However, the heavier touch and more modern production gives it a meaner feel. Somehow, in the middle of the song, falls out of concept; I actually thought a new song started. Nevertheless, in itself it somehow worked – also because of the great guitar solo. Maybe because I didn’t care if it was the still the same song or not.
Hell and Back, track 3, starts relatively slow in terms of energy, but the in-your-face thrash riff that enters at 0:30 really rocks. My favourite riff on the EP. The song is solid and has a good hook in the chorus, but the riff definitely sticks out. Just wished the arrangement of the chord progressions and riffs were less random. Would have been the strongest song on Beyond Magnetic ‘and’ Death Magnetic. The riff in the intermezzo at 4:17 is another highlight of the song, and the EP. The band also uses it to finish the song. Formidable!
Rebel Of Babylon, track 4, is the perfect track to finish off the EP because of the mood it portrays, aggressive and melodramatic. I know, melodramatic, huh? But hey, it’s my blog and that’s exactly how I felt when I listened to it for the first time. This might the song that reminds of Metallica’s golden times, aka …And Justice For All/Black album, the most. The different grooves, as well as the feel of the riffs could have been written in the late 80s/early 90s by Misters Hetfield and Hammett. My favourite track on Beyond Magnetic.
Overall a fine piece of contemporary thrash metal with old-school influences
Consequence of Sound published the following statement by Metallica about the EP:
During the Death Magnetic album sessions in 2007 and 2008, we originally recorded 14 songs. When it came time to pick the songs for the final album, we decided on 10 songs that you’ve all come to know over the last three years… Some of you may have heard bits and pieces of those other songs on ‘Mission Metallica’ (remember ‘Mission Metallica’?!) or heard rumors about them during the recording process, and wondered, ‘What ever happened to those other four songs???.’ We kept them in the vault and decided to pull them just for this special celebration, so here are the four leftover tracks from the Death Magnetic sessions. They are ROUGH mixes, unfinished to their original degree of mixing from March ’08. These four songs were released as a gift to our closest fans, the members of our Fan Club, to enjoy. Now they’re being made available to you.
I used to be a hopeless Metallica fan when they released the black album in 1991, and I kept loving them all the way through their I Disappear times, the Mission Impossible soundtrack single. But their feud with Napster and their ‘advertised’ interpersonal problems on Some Kind of Monster made me not care about their St. Anger album. That was were they lost me. Therefore, I didn’t lay hands on Death Magnetic either. But when Beyond Magnetic came out, I had kind of forgotten why I stopped caring about all the nonsense they were involved in and gave it a try. And to my surprise, I liked what I heard. Then I went back to listen to Death Magnetic and surprise, surprise, I enjoyed it. But that’s a story for another day.