“The Day That Never Comes” is a song by heavy metal band Metallica, and the lead single from their ninth studio album, Death Magnetic. The song was released to the radio and for digital download on August 21, 2008.
The working title of the song was “Casper”, as shown in the Mission: Metallica videos and in “Demo Magnetic”.
Like previous ballads and downbeat songs by Metallica, it is the fourth track of the album. Rock Sound has also compared the song to the likes of Thin Lizzy. The intro starts out with clean guitars that carry into the verses, while the choruses are backed with heavily distorted guitars. The bridge speeds up gradually and eventually leads into fast-paced harmony between the guitars and a long guitar solo by Hammett, a build-up comparable to that of “One”, “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” and “Fade to Black”. The ending of the song, like the previously mentioned ballads, is purely instrumental, featuring numerous solos and chord progressions.
On August 4, 2008, in an MTV interview, the song lyrics were said to tackle the subject of forgiveness and resentment. The band’s drummer Lars Ulrich claimed that the lyrics were inspired by a father-son relationship. The content of the video itself is of a different theme or setting that what the lyrics themselves were written about, the second interpretation. The video is said to be in a war background in comparison to the “One” video, but will not make any modern day references as in the war in Iraq and the Middle East (although the video depicts images of Middle East war in present day, they do not imply any political statement). Frontman James Hetfield spoke on the lyrics of the song and also the radical difference of the song lyrics and vision intended to the music video.
“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…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.”
Lead guitarist Kirk Hammett and Ulrich also commented by stating 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.