At work the other day I played Kill 'em All, Ride the Lightning, Master of Puppets, the Black Album, Load, St. Anger, and Death Magnetic in that order. I've been doing that with a lot of bands, I kind of got tired of Pandora and XM/Sirius so I play a whole day of an old favorite, usually in chronological order to hear the evolution of the band. I never was a fan of Load, Re-load, or St. Anger so when Death Magnetic came out I didn't have much hope it would be any better than the previous three, but I did buy it the first week it came out and remember kind of liking it but my tastes had changed in the 17 years since the Black album so it didn't take priority over what I've been listening to. I really listened this time for some reason, specifically James' tones. What stood out was how many different tones James has on the Death Magnetic album. Great variety of strat tones plus old Jackson tones, dark Mark and crunchy chrunchberries along with the JC120 tone, good old Dr. No, it sounded like he was having a blast in the recording studio. I ended up playing Death Magnetic all the next day and now I'm actually excited to hear a new album.
I am listening to Death Magnetic right now actually. The recording of the drums sucks on DM, not as bad as St. Anger but an extra ten minutes of set-up time would've done wonders, how come Metallica doesn't use the Master of Puppets drum sound? Jason/Bob Rock/Rob T., it doesn't matter, baseless bass, but still, I do like the album.
This explains a lot -http://montyjay.net/james-hetfields-amps/death-magnetic/