Rock Sound writes: "On first impressions and just one listen, Rock Sound can confirm that the songs we've heard sound very much like classic METALLICA in vibe, harking back to the days of 'Master Of Puppets', 'And Justice For All' (but with bass) and the [self-titled 'black'] album without sounding dated or tired.
"Of the six tracks Rock Sound heard this afternoon, only one had a working title 'Flamingo'. With a slow intro, the song was reminiscent of 'Battery' in vibe, with two guitar solos and an undercurrent of melody and groove.
"The first single is an epic power rocker in the vein of 'The Unforgiven', 'Nothing Else Matters' and 'Sanitarium', with a mid-tempo, head-banging section and some THIN LIZZY-esque twin guitar riffage.
"Another song features the lyrics, 'Into abyss, you don't exist, you can't resist the Judas kiss'; another features an almost RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE-esque drum 'n' bass undercurrent and lyrics about 'suicide' and 'cyanide'; while the final song we heard, dubbed 'The Song', clocks in at under five minutes and is a galloping thrash attack with quirks, and a sniff of TESTAMENT about it!
"We suspect other song titles could include 'Die Hard', 'Show Your Scars', and 'My Apocalypse' but we cannot be held responsible if none of these titles or lyrics are accurate!
"Thankfully there are plenty of Kirk Hammett traditional guitar solos and a decent drum sound. Hetfield's voice sounds in fine form too. All of the songs have many different parts to them, giving the impression that the quartet is revisiting the epic vibe of the band's 'classic' period."
Metal Hammer reports: "What do the songs sound like? Track one, which is only known by the cryptic working title 'Flamingo', opens up on thunderous rolling drums as lead guitar meets them head on, a flaring up in stop-start motion before it pulls itself together in rushes forward in classic thrash style, all crunching 'Fight Fire With Fire' riffs and drilling beats. It takes at least two minutes for James Hetfield's vocals to come in, and while they sound furious, this isn't the grittiest he's ever sounded, more open in tone, but while there's still a memorable vocal line for the 'chorus,' and there is so much going on in the song, and so many ideas thrown in and discarded for the next one that it's hard on first listen to pick out one riff that you're going to remember it by. But with galloping riffs and the return of guitar breaks rising up from out of the grooves you can hear the true METALLICA spirit, even though its as if reflected in mirrored mosaic.
"Track two is at heart an anthemic ballad that recalls 'Fight Fire With Fire' and 'Nothing Else Matters', with a chiming guitar intro, airy vocals and some slightly convoluted, progressive-style bridges that mutate into urgent riffing, more galloping riffs and guitar solos. Again, the song has a number of different sections, but it still sounds massive.
"Track three kicks off on a stop-start riff flecked with Eastern touches, as other bustling guitar lines play off each other and Hetfield's vocals retain the power of old, like some monolithic prophet overlooking events as mid-paced, chugging riffs come in, sounding like an army on the march, methodically shooting anyone in their path.
"Track four is reminiscent of 'Master Of Puppets' with more than a touch of heads-down SLAYER pacing thrown in. After an artillery-lobbing drum-led intro, it quickly sets off on marching, thrash mode, Hetfield's spat vocals taking melodic digressions, as he roars 'Bow down, surrender unto me.' The song's groove carries you along as it opens up into guitar atomospherics that bring LED ZEP to mind. It isn't quite the kind of irresistible monster they've created before, but METALLICA still prove they can still sound lean and epic at the same time, and when the track drops out into the grove mid-way though, you can imagine the chants coming from the crowds live.
"Track five has another strong opening, with an uncharacteristic bouncing groove not a million miles away from RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE making appearances throughout setting off sharp riffs that come up against an irregular barrage of percussion that sets it off briefly on a more melodic path and builds up once again into a thrilling riff-fest mayhem.
"Track six is the 'song', considerably shorter than the others, but full of clinically sharp riffing, more SLAYER-esque parts and galloping grooves, all hustle and bustle with a tinge of Eastern melody thrown in once more.
"Initial impressions is that this is an album that's going to get our blood chugging, but whether it's all we hoped for is going to take more plays to answer. Ultimately we're hugely relieved and pretty damn thrilled, and we can't fucking wait to hear the rest."