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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this music.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this album -- which made its debut as the first full downloadable album for the video game Guitar Hero III -- has all the trademark heavy metal staples: lyrics about death, dying, and pain accompanied by driving guitars and furious beats. Younger teens might not be ready for some songs' haunting images (references to annihilation, spilling blood, poison, and stalkers, to name a few) and intense vocals. Discussions of suicide and retribution are also briefly mentioned.
- Parents say
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What's the story?
Even though Metallica has been around for nearly 30 years, the heavy metal rockers aren't done rocking quite yet. This is their ninth studio album, and the first with new bassist Robert Trujillo and mega-producer Rick Rubin. The album also marks a milestone in gaming, as the band allowed music from the CD to be downloaded for use in the Guitar Hero III video game before the album's actual release.
Is it any good?
Thunderous and imposing, heavy metal is enjoying a resurgence of late (at least partly thanks to the popularity of games like Guitar Hero). Metallica was there at the beginning of metal's move into pop culture, and, with this album, the band has gone back to its intense roots, embracing extended guitar-fueled riffs and the dark, brooding images of their past. "The Day That Never Comes" is similar in theme to "Unforgiven," and "All Nightmare Long" has the same terror-inspiring imagery as "Enter Sandman."
But this time around, the band is a lot louder, with powerful guitars charging through every track. James Hetfield's vocals are also more aggressive and muscular than recent albums -- almost harmonic screaming, if you will. Even the once-melodic "Unforgiven" is given a super-charged reinvention in its third interpretation.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why Metallica would decide to pair their music with a video game like Guitar Hero III. Why would that appeal to them? How are games like Guitar Hero influencing the music industry? Also, how has the band's sound changed? After many years of trying to fit into the alternative rock sound, Metallica has come back to heavy metal. Do you think that decision was influenced by today's popular music, or do you think the band generally wanted to try something else? How influential do you think current music trends are on the direction that an established band takes?