This song about an abusive relationship was debuted by Metallica live on August 22, 2008 at the Leeds Festival in the UK, the day after it was first played on the radio.
When this debuted on the Hot 100 on the Billboard
magazine issue dated September 6, 2008 this became Metallica's first entry on that chart since "I Disappear
" peaked at peaked at #76 in June 2000.
Danish director Thomas Vinterberg directed the music video, which is in a war setting. Vinterberg co-founded the Dogme 95 movement in filmmaking, along with Lars von Trier. The movement was an attempt to simplify movie production. Drummer Lars Ulrich told MTV News that the content of the video is different to what the song's lyrics were actually about. He explained: "It's a story about human beings who don't know each other, in a particularly tense situation. It could be a contemporary war setting, but it's really about forgiveness and redemption and understanding what goes on in people's minds. We really feel that this was such a beautiful and epic way to treat the song in something that was really radically different than the specificity of the lyrics."
Rick Rubin produced this song along with the rest of the album. Ulrich told the Los Angeles Times August 24, 2008 that what Rubin brought to the table was decisiveness. He explained: "He's no mediator. There is no wobble in what he says. If me and Hetfield butt heads, he will listen and say, 'This is right, that's wrong.' One time, we played something new and he didn't like it. 'That makes me want to kill myself,' he says. Then later he hears a different version he says, 'I want to hear that 1,000 times over.'"
Vocalist James Hetfield explained the album title in the album's publicity materials: "It started out as kind of a tribute to people that have fallen in our business, like (Alice In Chains frontman) Layne Staley and a lot of the people that have died, basically - rock and roll martyrs of sorts. And then it kind of grew from there. Thinking about death... just like a magnet, some people are drawn towards it, [and] other people are afraid of it and push away." The band probably had in mind Cliff Burton, the band's bassist who was killed in a 1986 tour-bus crash in Sweden.
Hetfield told MTV News that Rubin was instrumental in helping the band find that old fire again. He explained: "His mission statement was to get to the essence of Metallica. He told us, 'Think back to Master of Puppets - what were you doing? What were you thinking? What were your influences? What bothered you? What was around you? Where did that hunger come from?' And that was a little bit of homework for us that was a little impossible to get to. You could dress up like you're in 1986, [but] you just can't be there again. We've been through so much - you can't erase the learning we'd done. What made sense to us was the hunger, the quest to impress. He said, 'You're going to write a set list. Your next album is a set list of your best songs, and you're going to try and go get signed, do a showcase and impress people.' And that was a great mission statement for us."
When Death Magnetic topped the Billboard 200 chart, Metallica became the first hard rock act to reach #1 with five consecutive #1 studio albums- Led Zeppelin and Van Halen each had four straight #1 studio long players. Also the success of Death Magnetic meant that Metallica became the top-selling hard rock band since Nielsen/SoundScan took over tracking for Billboard in May 1991 with AC/DC in second place.
Outside of the US, the Death Magnetic album peaked at #1 in 32 countries including the UK, Canada, Australia, France and Germany.
Metallica are not known for their chart-topping singles, but this song reached #1 in several European countries, including Croatia, Finland and Norway.