After the longest gap between albums, Metallica return with Hardwired…To Self-Destruct.
Arguably the most well-known metal band in history has finally returned and are bringing their first new album since 2008. I’ve gone on in the past about the different types of Metallica fans, mainly the split between Type A fans who will defend EVERYTHING that Metallica has done as a masterpiece, and Type B fans who long for the glory days of the thrash filled 80s, but one thing both types can agree on is that we’ve been wanting to hear something new for a while. After several years of writing, recording, playing live versions, losing song and riff ideas, and making videos for every song, Metallica have the new double album Hardwired…To Self-Destruct. Some of the key factors of the new album include Kirk Hammett not contributing to writing of any of the songs on the album and the inclusion of Greg Fidelman as the producer.
According to Metallica, this new album is more of a continuation of their previous Death Magnetic but also refers back to their earlier thrash years. After playing Kill ‘em All at Orionfest a few years back, Lars spoke about how it rekindled his love for that style. To many longtime Metallica fans that is a great thing to hear from Lars in hope of hearing a return to form from thrash’s glory days. And for those wondering if this new album will match up to the glorious mid 80’s where thrash had its surge, the technical information about Hardwired…To Self-Destruct is a good indicator. This is a double album with a total running time of over 77 minutes and an average track time of over six minutes. Pair this with the several songs that have already been released like the title track and “Moth Into Flame”, and we finally have reason to hope for good Metallica again. The title track may have been the first listen given from the new album but it was “Moth Into Flame” that got me excited to hear what Metallica had in store. It’s fair to say that there are many people who were cautious on what to expect from the first new Metallica album in eight years, but “Moth Into Flame” I feel is the song that proved that Metallica still had something good to give after so much time away.
“Moth Into Flame” feels like the thrash sound that Metallica was known for, or at least it is the most reminiscent of it compared to many other songs over the past decade. Hetfield may not be as angry and vicious in the delivery as he was 30 years ago, but the song still has a great delivery with fantastic riffs that hook you into playing air-guitar almost instinctively. Even if it’s not at a blistering pace, it still sounds like a fun, well-played thrash track. Along with the tracks that have already been released, “Halo On Fire” and “Now That We’re Dead” are very strong and round out a great first half of the double album. The first half is going to be what many if not most people who buy this album will be playing with possibly the exception of “Am I Savage?” which does sound a bit boring compared to what it’s surrounded by in disc one. That’s not to say that disc two doesn’t have anything worth listening to, but there are several tracks that feel like they are unnecessary to include on an already long album. “Here Comes Revenge” sounds like a bonus track from Load or Reload and “Dream No More” is forgettable even when you are trying to actively listen. Oddly enough though, the best song on the album in my opinion is the closing track “Spit Out The Bone”.
After hearing several songs that don’t really live up to the potential of the band that many might have hoped for, “Spit Out The Bone” slaps you in the face and makes you remember why you love Metallica. The guitar work AND drumming are great and memorable. This is the type of song that Metallica and most metal fans were hoping for when hearing Metallica had new music coming. It’s after hearing that final track and remembering how many good tracks there are on the first half of this double album that you realize while Hardwired may not belong along the ranks of the band’s work in the 80’s and there are some songs on here that are forgettable, Hardwired…To Self-Destruct still has a lot going for it and might possibly be the best thing the band has done since the black album.
There is a lot to take in with this new double album, including a tribute to Lemmy from Motorhead, the fact that Kirk Hammett didn’t have a hand in writing any of these tracks, and that Lars learned how to tighten his snare drum. Even if not every song on this album is really a winner, there still is a lot of good material on this album and it feels good to say that Metallica can still deliver in 2016. Overall, Hardwired…To Self-Destruct may not be the blast back to the days of Kill ‘em All, but it still has songs worth playing several times and is arguably the best album Metallica have created in over 20 years. For those of you who have been waiting, there are many more positives than negatives here and it’s worth giving Metallica another shot at their new material.