Metallica – Hardwired … to Self-Destruct (Blackened 2016)

Metallica, ah Metallica, the band I fanatically followed as a teenager, and that has stayed with me through my entire life. The band I’ve have seen live every time they visit my part of the world. I defended St. Anger, I worshipped Death Magnetic, tried to ignore Lulu, listened exclusively to Lords of Summer for about a month, this Metallica, the Metallica of the 21st century, has finally released a new album.

The press proclaimed a return to form, just like they did with St. Anger and Death Magnetic, but their back catalogue is untouchable. I don’t want a return to glory days, to the sound of the black album, justice or puppets. I want Metallica to evolve, find inspiration where they may and produce music that makes me happy, tapping my feet, ravaging my air guitar and pounding pretend drums.

Hardwired … to self destruct is not everything I wanted, but I’m still glad it exists. But for the love music, why the double album? That’s just too much music man, it will get unfocused. Every double studio album in the history of recorded music has this issue. The filler material gets too much and too prominent on a double album, there might be a few bands that have been able pull it off, Pink Floyd comes to mind. What about a warning sticker: “This album may contain up to, or above, 50 % filler material.”

Confusen is the obvious filler song. Everything about this song, except for the main riff, screams filler. The lyrics are sub par, the melody on the chorus is under James’ dignity as writer. Dream No More  has a half assed feel about it, something lacking. Maybe it’s the way James sings, with long drawn out syllables, I don’t know.  Here Comes Revenge also has a few weak melodic moments, but is saved by some strong riffs.

Hardwired was the first teaser off of the album, so as I’m writing this it’s the song I know the best, and yes of course I’ve learnt to play the riff, why do you ask? This song proves that Metallica can still play fast. The savagery of this song is what this band used to be all about, are they able to keep this up?

Of course not, but they manage a plenty of intensity and fury, although the speed is a bit slower. Atlas, Rise! is built on the same template as a lot of epics songs of the past, One, Welcome Home etc. It builds and builds, brings in new riffs when needed or alters the melody slightly to give a new feel. It’s just great. Halo on Fire is the same way, but might harken more to Fade to Black as it has a bit of a softer edge.

Murder One  is kind of a strange tune. The Motörhead theme is apparent with the couplet; born to loose / live to win. When I heard about this song, I thought it would be a fest of speed and spitting lyrics. Instead it got James singing in a style unusual for him. I like this song.  Now that We’re Dead has a vocal melody that sticks in my brain.

ManUNkind is another strange song. On first listen I thought about the Load/Reload era. But it doesn’t really sound like it. I’m thinking it has to do with the kind of arrangement. Am I Savage? is a rather bland number, except for the guitar leads, finally Kirk shines a bit. The lyrics are very typical Hetfield lyrics. Which to me feels familiar and nice, and this familiarity is also found in the drum fills.

I like that they put a fast song at the end of the record; it’s just the way a Metallica record is supposed to end. Spit out the Bone has three great riffs and a good solo, and some blasting bass parts. Trujillo is audible throughout the record, but doesn’t really take much space. The sound is driven by the guitar riff and vocals.

This kind of feel like James’ record, the vocals take up a lot of space in the soundscape. The riffs are ever present, and a much bigger part of the songs than on Death Magnetic. Kirk has his solos, but they seem a bit predictable at this time. I wish he would find the inspiration he had on Load/Reload where he experimented with sounds and styles and scales.

The record sound great and am I’m glad they put less focus on the loudness this time around. The mix is good, personally I would have preferred a more rumbling and a tad louder bass, but this is Metallica after all and I’m kind of used to the bass being low.


Recommended tracks: Halo on Fire, Hardwired, Atlas, Rise! Spit Out the Bone, Now that We’re Dead, Moth Into Flame


Rating:  4/5


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