“They sold out”. “Metallica died with Cliff”. “Lars is an awful drummer”. “They’ve sucked since And Justice for All”. “Why can’t they release another album like Master of Puppets?”. Well, I’ve got bad news for all the 80’s thrash purists and curmudgeons, because Hardwired…to Self Destruct is yet another Metallica album that (for the most part) just isn’t for you. I can’t speak for everyone here, but this Mofo wouldn’t have it any other way.
After 8 long years of build up, anticipation, updates, and teases which finally led us to an entire day of videos being released for every track on the album, Hardwired…to Self Destruct is finally here. Was it worth the wait? Definitely. Metallica swung for the fences with this album, and made it clear that they’re not satisfied being the biggest metal band in the world. Metallica want to be the biggest band in the world, period. Hardwired…to Self Destruct is an all-encompassing album that is appealing to both metal and rock fans alike, and it’s for that reason that it’s going to be a huge success.
From “Hardwired” all the way through to the epic thrash juggernaut “Spit Out the Bone”, Hardwired…to Self Destruct takes you on a musical journey through the many sounds that have spanned over Metallica’s entire career along with a fresh new melodic sound built around James’s singing which is surprisingly good on this album. “Hardwired”, “Moth Into Flame” and “Spit Out the Bone” are all the proof anyone needs of the fact that Metallica can still thrash with the best of them. “Dream No More” is a track that is one long crunching groove, and while James’s voice isn’t what it once was, vocally it’s reminiscent of the black album. “ManUNkind”, “Here Comes Revenge”, “Am I Savage?”, and “Now That We’re Dead” will take you back to the polarizing Load and ReLoad days, and “Confusion” and “Lords of Summer” are tracks more like what you would hear on Metallica’s previous album Death Magnetic. “Atlas, Rise!”, “Murder One”, and “Halo on Fire” are three tracks that are totally unique. “Atlas, Rise!” has a classic heavy metal sound in the vein of early Dio, or Judas Priest, “Halo on Fire” is a monumental hard rock ballad, and “Murder One” is a classic, heavy, dirty, rock n’ roll song which pays tribute to the great Lemmy Kilmister.
James and Lars took the reins again as far as the songwriting which Kirk described as a “very bitter pill to swallow”, but despite his disappointment in being left out of the songwriting process, Hardwired…to Self Destruct contains some of Kirk’s most memorable solos. This album also has some great melody and the kind of world-class riffs you would expect from Metallica. Robert has proven once again that he’s clearly the best bass player since Cliff, and Lars definitely stepped up his game a bit, but not with anything too fancy because Metallica are, and always have been a guitar driven band.
This is an excellent album, but it’s not without its faults. The guitar tone they’ve used in their past two albums is more of a precision tone that just isn’t heavy enough, I would’ve liked to have heard Robert’s bass a little more which would’ve made it heavier, and Lars goes a little crazy with the snare. More fills would’ve given the songs a little more substance. All things considered I still love this album.
Hardwired…to Self Destruct is an album for the true Metallica fan who appreciates them for more than what they did in the 80’s. It’s a thrash/heavy metal/hard rock album that just rocks. Every song is distinct, catchy, and unforgettable. Is it their best album? Of course not, but it’s better than anything they’ve released since the black album, and in my opinion, well worth the wait.