Words By: Gerrod Harris
Release Date: November 18th, 2016, via Blackened
It has been eight long years, full of false starts and rumors, since Metallica’s last record, Death Magnetic. With this, combined with an extensive promotional campaign which lead to the creation of twelve individual music videos (one for each track on the album), the excitement leading up to the release of Hardwired… To Self-Destruct has drastically grown since the announcement of the album in August.
Opening with the blistering first single, “Hardwired”, Metallica immediately propel the listener forward, delivering exactly what has been craved for far too long. Aside from being the only song shorter than five minutes and forty-five seconds, “Hardwired” is an exception to much of this record. Firstly, it stands out among the albums best tracks, and secondly, it actually returns Metallica to their early thrash roots, while the rest of the album very much follows in line with a style in between Master Of Puppets and The Black Album. “Hardwired” is nothing short of unrelenting, featuring a killer solo from Kirk Hammett, incredibly fast and pounding drums from Lars Ulrich– who finally found a solid sounding snare drum. The captivating narrative, sung by James Hetfield, was in inspired by a junkie, but given the state of the world today, this can very much been used as a reflection of human nature.
The album continues to deliver hits throughout its twelve song track listing. The second single, “Moth Into Flame” transitions from a bouncing verse- largely due to the rhythmic pulse of Robert Trujillo’s bass line- into a hard hitting pre-chorus into an anthem of a chorus which is bound to be sung by sold out audiences. To counter this, “Dream No More” offers a far more sludgy approach, with one of the most unique verses across the entire album, featuring a dual vocal line from Hetfield, creating not only a highly unique textural pallet for the band, but also provides some excellent harmonies which introduce a new layer of dissonance. In many ways, “Dream No More” is what the love child of Metallica and Alice In Chains would sound like, giving the band a grungy metal facelift. “Confusion” also stands out as a continuation in tone and style of Death Magnetic, tying the record to the band’s modern work as well as that of the past, meanwhile, “ManUNkind” similarly does the same, however the song also features one of the best riffs across the album. On multiple occasions, members of Metallica have accredited their earliest inspirations to Lemmy Kilmister and Motörhead. This inspiration, and later friendship shared between the musicians, is best captured in “Murder One”, a track dedicated to the memory Lemmy, making for one of the best tributes to the late metal pioneer, especially when paired with the tracks music video. One of the best songs on the album- if you could only pick one- might be the heavy “Am I Savage?”; a song where Hetfield truly lets the power of his voice boom over a sludgy and gritty shuffle, contributing yet another anthem-like chorus which builds into an explosive guitar solo from Hammett and features numerous crunching riffs.
Hardwired… To Self-Destruct is an incredible album. Even the worst Hardwired… To Self-Destruct has to offer is nothing short of great. It is this fact- along with a distinct return to the bands earlier periods while still progressing- that makes the record the best from Metallica since the 1997 release of Reload. In many ways, this will be the album that brings Metallica into the forefront of modern rock ‘n’ roll and metal without the need for the quality of the record to lean on the band’s pioneering and legendary status as a classic artist. Hardwired… To Self-Destruct acts as the perfect entrance point for new fans of the band to dig into their sound, without having to jump back a few decades to hear some excellent material. In other words, while the album may fall more in line with certain vintage styles once perpetuated by Metallica, Hardwired… To Self-Destruct is an album which creates its own path free of nostalgia; instead it relies on a track listing of hard-hitting, all killer, with zero filler, songs to create an absolutely amazing album, among the best released this year. Metallica is, without a doubt, back; bigger and more explosive than they’ve been in almost twenty years; and you’d be a fool to think otherwise after listing to Hardwired… To Self-Destruct.
2: Atlas, Rise!
3: Now That We’re Dead
4: Moth Into Flame
5: Dream No More
6: Halo On Fire
9: Here Comes Revenge
10: Am I Savage?
11: Murder One
12: Spit Out The Bone