Blackened Recordings/Universal Music
Rumors have been circulating among metalheads for well over a year and yet the album drops at an unexpected time. Metallica releases their new ‘Hardwired… To Self-Destruct’ only a month after stirring up the rumors with the release of their first single ,,Hardwired” and a handful of songs also pushed forward with music videos as their companion. No less than 12 to be more precise, clocking a solid 80 minutes of new ‘Tellica tunes… just like the album.
Rest assured: it is typical Metallica what is presented on the new album; gripping back to the classic era as well as to more desperate times. The mix is stirred as a cocktail of their sound with all key ingredients present to create some kind of a monster. Duh!
Lucky for us metal fans the band regained their strength and rose from the ashes after the bad career choices made over the last couple of years. Let’s face it: the once so solid thriving metal machine almost came to a halt with their career stalling before heading into a free-fall. Their own Sonisphere Festival collapsed in bankruptcy and the ‘Through The Never’ endeavour hangs in the balance with a disastrous 28 million USD negative. On top Lou Reed (R.I.P) reached out to record ‘LuLu’ with the SF thrash brigade. ‘LuLu’ is one of the worst records in musical history and is the pearl to the crown of misfortune of our heroes as well as Reed. A series of false moves which scarred their career.
On the other hand the band always manage to capture our attention with series of driven tours and stunning concerts. They toured the globe constantly, hitting all the biggest stages. Aside they always managed to surprise with their concert, like landing behind bars to play for inmates in the Danish Statsfaengsel prison and creating a freezing blizzard in the snow of Alaska with their ‘Freeze ‘em All’ concert. Because of that strong work ethic they remained kings of the scene with all new breed metal bands unable to rise, even though the band has not recorded a real Metallica album in 8 years when they released their (love it or hate it) ‘Death Magnetic’, the band’s return to form.
Aside a handful of minor swings with the ‘Death Magnetic’ leftovers EP ‘Beyond Magnetic’ and the 2014 tune ‘Lords Of Summer’, pretty much nothing happened.
Breaking the silence and breaking their downfall the band around Ulrich and Hetfield launched ‘Hardwired… To Self-Destruct’ with the albums opening tune ,,Hardwired” warping them back to their garage days. The track spits fierce riffs and anger with a punk-like attitude that makes your head nod instantly. It is the drive and turmoil which was once so present on the raved debut ‘Kill ‘em All’ without Hetfield’s snorting and spitting. Tamed a bit, aged with grace… It’s this grace that makes ,,Atlas, Rise!” one of the strongholds of the album, with hyper-trashy licks that freeze full frontal occasionally. The turbulence is rooted deep in the bend’s benchmark era. One thing that really makes it more enjoyable than the fan pleasing ‘DM’ is the production of Greg Fidelman. Losing the ‘tin can’-drumsound the Ulrich set is build around a more thumping bassdrum and powerful overall balanced sound that leaves room for the guitars in the front of the mix. Hammett’s clean soling benefits from the well-balanced background-wall-o’sound especially when his foot hits his wahwah like on the following ,,Now That We’re Dead”. The song is kicked into gear with a harmonious riff pulling it forward while Ulrich’s drumrolls create thunder. Propelled by the loud riffs the song evokes power from Jaimz’ roars and anger laden vocals before hitting the mega melodic chorus.
The band’s third single output is the awe ,,Moth Into Flame” with it’s powerful ‘And.. Justice For All’-toning and trashy pre-bridge segment. When the pedal goes down Metallica always manages to kick things into gear slightly different than genre-mates. That being said, it is typical Metallica what’s presented on the following ,,Dream No More” with its ,,Sad But True” fierce riff and drum interaction. Hetfield adds a little fuel to the fire with a haunting and psychic vocal performance that hauls over the bass drum extravaganza of breaks and double-kicks. Creeping up on you and nesting inside your head instantly. CD 1 ends with the epic and cinematic ,,Halo On Fire”, a somewhat odd slow paced monster. The slow balladesque luring refrain with a crooning Hetfield contrasts strongly with the powerful bridge and chorus radiating anger. Still not used to it, sorry.
,,Am I Evil?”-sound-alike guitar-drum interaction welcomes us to CD number 2. ,,Confusion” evolves around great riffs and jawdropping solos from Kirk but doesn’t light the fire. Musically it links perfectly to the ‘Justice’ era but lyrically it is missing grip. Luckily ,,ManUNkind” has me nodding my head again right away. The fist pumper with its perfectly timed breaks and stop ’n go drumming is an appealing and effective track with loud and funky grooves like Trujillo was playing during his Infectious days. It breaks from the traditional Metallica sound without estranging from the benchmark. ,,Here Comes Revenge” is more of the same as ,,Confusion”; so typical Metallica it is almost boring even though it is combusting with awesome arsenic riffs. I said ‘Almost’!
,,Am I Savage”, unlike the title assumes, has nothing to do with the old evil from Diamond Head, once made famous by Ulrich’s men. No, the song is a slow paced ominous track that crawls forward with loud howls and fierce riffs. The puppet master awakes ones again to bring tribute to the late Lemmy Kilmister on ,,Murder One”. A spot on homage with Hetfield addressing the fallen Man In Black with lyrics borrowed from the Motörhead catalogue. Some will love it, some might hate it…
The high-speed blitz of ,,Spit Out The Bone” is another fine moment that makes this album go out with a big boom. The song has the impact of the band’s debut and the pace is laden with speedmetal swagger reviving the best these old rockers have in them…
‘Hardwired… To Self-Destruct’ is an album that portrays the band perfectly: It peaks as well as it hits the ground, but always with the typical Metallica impact. The album literally covers all the outskirts of their career with solid chunky grooves from their ‘Load/Reload’-era without lacking the attitude and spit from the ‘Ride The Lightning’ days, going hand in hand with the thunderous prestige of ‘Masters Of Puppets’ and grandeur of their black album. It simply touches the band’s entire long spanning career and is a great cocktail of freakin’-fukkin’-metal. But above all: it is plain and simple Metallica enjoying themselves… whether you like it or not!
For collectors and diehard fans among us: try to grab the limited edition boxset consisting of the album on blue and yellow vinyl with a bonus record in red featuring the ,,Lords Of Summer” and a live rendition of ,,Hardwired”. Added is a bonus disc with the ‘Ronnie Rising Medley’ and cover versions of Deep Purple’s ,,When A Blind Man Cries” and Iron Maiden’s ,,Remember Tomorrow” alongside the band’s integral recording of the record store day gig from Berkeley at Rasputin Music. Completing the deluxe boxset is a litho of the artwork and a set of collectable buttons.