BackHistory: Part Five
They did publicly state that the majority of 2005 would be spent re-charging those creative and mental batteries, and true to their word it was a quiet year, except for two little hometown gigs with the Rolling Stones at SBC Park in November. We all knew an entire year would not pass without at least a sighting of the guys!
With batteries re-charged after the two shows with the Stones, the guys hit the studio in early 2006 to start writing a new album and were excited to announce that they would be working with a new producer, Rick Rubin. The spring and summer found them escaping from the studio once again with shows in South Africa (their first ever visit to the continent!), Europe, Japan and Korea. Proving that they hadn't just spent the last many months slack off, Metallica debuted two new songs during these shows: "The New Song" premiered in Berlin, Germany on June 6 and "The Other New Song" made its debut August 12 in Tokyo, Japan. While still works in progress, both songs give us all a little taste of things to come with the remainder of the year scheduled for more writing and jamming.
Before teasing audiences with brand new material during that '06 summer jaunt, Metallica had decided to take a different approach to the studio, now working with Rubin. Having been availed of long-time twiddler Bob Rock's expertise and unifying qualities, the band wanted to see what happened when working with the decidedly hands-off Rubin. His message, when the band entered the studio in April of '07 to record, was simple; don't be afraid of your past, don't be afraid to rediscover your roots, embrace the ethic of performance over editing and get back to what Metallica essentially is. Thus began months of work with hands-on engineer Greg Fidelman handing the daily duties and Rubin overseeing and dropping in for tête-à-têtes to make sure matters remained on course. In essence, Rubin removed himself from the process as an ally to anyone and forced Metallica to find their own solutions and resolutions. He also made everyone re-record entire parts if they were unhappy to avoid a pro-tools dominated approach to creation, the idea being that it was always about the performance. Ironically, Rubin would later comment in the band's magazine So What! that the bulk of the album was recorded in a month, despite the fact that Death Magnetic didn't see the light of day until September 12, 2008, celebrating the release with two low cost ticket charity shows in Berlin and London's O2 Arenas.
The popular response was enormous, with the album smashing the charts at #1 and critical acclaim acknowledging that this was, indeed, the return to business that Metallica had threatened for so long. The groundwork for Metallica's creative process had been laid with St. Anger and the results were both clear and abundant with Death Magnetic, with cuts such as "The Day That Never Comes," "Broken, Beat & Scarred" and "All Nightmare Long" becoming instant fan favorites. In addition to the Death Magnetic album, on March 29, 2009 the band also saw Guitar Hero: Metallica released. An Activision game, GH:M features 28 Metallica favorites and 21 songs from bands Metallica like, as well as guest appearances from King Diamond and Lemmy from Motörhead.
Along with all these releases, the band of course hit the road, as the 'World Magnetic' Tour started on October 20, 2008 in Glendale, Arizona. It is a tour that kept on giving, kept on coming, and flowed deep into 2010, the band hoping to perhaps play in some places they've never been before. Gone, however, are the grueling days of 8-10 weeks at a time on the asphalt, instead the schedule ensures Metallica are never on the road for longer than a couple of weeks before taking at least a week off back at home. It is a highly effective solution to the problem of making the road work with family and home life, and as such the tour thus far has seen some of Metallica's best performances ever as 'burn-out' is not even a factor.