Metallica’s long-awaited album Death Magnetic is set for release Sept. 12. 2008. The first single, The Day That Never Comes, was originally inspired “by a father-son relationship,” according to drummer Lars Ulrich. The video, however, applies the lyrics in a different direction. Set in a present-day Middle Eastern warzone, the video opens with an attack on a U.S. patrol. With his comrade badly injured or even dead, the lead soldier must choose between bitterness and revenge or forgiveness and compassion as the video culminates in a confrontation between a suspected suicide-bomber and another US patrol. James Hetfield comments,
“That’s the beauty, I think, of writing vague but powerful lyrics — that someone like a movie director can interpret it in his own way and obviously, someone creative is able to take the metaphors and apply them to whatever he needs in his own life,” the frontman explained. “The main [theme of the video] is the human element of forgiveness and someone doing you wrong, you feeling resentment and you being able to see through that in the next situation that might be similar and not take your rage or resentment out on the next person and basically keep spreading the disease of that through life.”
Unlike other popular bands, such as System of a Down, Metallica is not intending to make a political statement with the video. In an interview with MTV Hetfield explains,
“The one thing that I wasn’t keen on here was Metallica plugging into a modern war or a current event [that] might be construed as some sort of political statement on our part…There are so many celebrities that soapbox their opinions, and people believe it’s more valid because they’re popular. For us, people are people — you should all have your own opinion. We are hopefully putting the human element in what is an unfortunate part of life. There are people over there dealing with situations like this, and we’re showing the human part of being there.”
“It’s the forgiveness part — that is key…Metallica has never plugged into any current event visually, but this one is kind of a hotbed. People have very high opinions about this war, and we’re trying to cut through all of that. The politics and the religion tend to separate people, and what we’re trying to do is bring it together with the common thread of resentment and forgiveness.”
Drummer Lars Ulrich adds, “It could be a contemporary war setting, but it’s really about forgiveness and redemption and understanding what goes on in people’s minds.” Guitarist Kirk Hammett explained it this way: “Ultimately, the concept of the video deals with humanity and the relationships between human beings and how your basic sense of humanity can override any sort of politicized situation…It’s about being compassionate and humanistic in that sort of situation. So you could call it a microcosm of what’s happening in the world today.”
With so many bands pushing radically anti-American themes (and I do distinguish between anti-war and anti-American) since the current war in Iraq began, The Day That Never Comes is a breath of fresh air. Hammett is correct: there is much that transcends the political. Forgiveness and compassion in the face of grievious loss and destruction are potent examples of such transcendant choices. Musicians have the ability to reach audiences that philosophers and theologians may never reach. They not only have broad access but also the ability to stir emotions as only good music can. Metallica is one of the few popular bands that produce not just quality music but thought-provoking and substantive messages as well. It is good to see them continuing to communicate what fans have grown to love.
Originally posted at Pursuing Truth
Metallica Tackle Forgiveness, Resentment In ‘The Day That Never Comes’ Clip by Chris Harris with additional reporting by Todd Brown, MTV
Metallica Try To Recapture Old-School Hunger On Death Magnetic, But Not To Please Fans by Chris Harris with additional reporting by Todd Brown, MTV
Metallica and Philosophy by William Irwin.