Metallica Hardwired...To Self-Destruct(Blackened Recordings) Buy it from Insound
Back in 2008, Metallica released Death Magnetic, a return to form after the mess of St. Anger. It returned the band to their thrash metal roots. Now, eight years later, here we are again. This is the longest break between albums, not counting Lulu (no one counts Lulu). What is the band's philosophy on Hardwired...to Self-Destruct? One word: more. Their latest album is more ferocious, more eclectic and filled with more songs. But, as the latter will prove, more isn't always better.
It starts out great, though! The first half will rip at you like a Category 5 hurricane. Hardwired is an explosive, adrenalized throwback to the days of Kill 'Em All. "We're so fucked, shit out of luck," Hetfield screams, summing up the sentiment of this year. Sure, it looks cheesy on paper. But you will still feel the need to shout it out and headbang whenever you hear it. Atlas, Rise! and Moth Into Flame are different sides of the same coin, churning shredfests that double-down on the catchy choruses.
Even the tracks where Metallica takes their foot off the pedal are massive. Now That We're Dead lumbers forward like Godzilla, Lars Ulrich's drums shaking the speakers to their core. Hetfield digs up the right amount of his young fury into his seasoned vocals. He's definitely grown as a singer, willing to try some different inflections. Halo On Fire might be the cleanest his vocals have ever sounded, but he still brings the growls out when needed. On Dream No More, Hetfield's voice echoes out from the deep. Behind him, the band chugs along like a missing cut from their self-titled LP. And of course, it's about Cthulhu.
So, that's the first half. Sounds great so far, right? Well, maybe Metallica should have kept this on the short side. Or at least, they could have ditched some of the wasteful filler that litters the second half of the album. Confusion is a lesser version of what they did with Now That We're Dead. After an unexpected clean guitar and bass jam, ManUNkind dissolves into generic riffage, with an eye-rolling chorus. I'd tell you more about Am I Savage? or Murder One, but no matter how many times I listen, I can't remember what they sound like. You won't either.
It's not a total wash, though. It's worth wading through the dredge to get to Spit Out the Bone, a pummeling, incredible and unrelenting thrash track. Kirk Hammet even manages to find a frenzied, fresh take on the wah solo that will put a grin on your face. If you need any evidence that Metallica can still keep up with the competition, it's in this unstoppable beast. It's the best song the band's written since the 80s.
Hardwired...to Self-Destruct is not a perfect album by any means. It's too long, with too many tracks that go nowhere. But those songs that do work are some of their best in the last couple of decades. Most importantly, despite the seriousness of the lyrics, it sounds like Metallica is having the time of their lives. That feeling is infectious and makes a good portion of this record a joy to hear. May they keep shredding for years to come.30 November, 2016 - 04:42 — Joe Marvilli