Album Review: Metallica – Hardwired…to Self-Destruct (Blackened Recordings)

Has it really been 8 years since the last Metallica album, Death Magnetic? Doesn’t time fly?

There is no escaping the weight of expectation on Metallica with this album, their 10th studio album. It’s one of the biggest releases of the year by one of the biggest bands in the entire world.

So it’s really good to hear the band sounding relaxed, sounding like they’re enjoying playing again, enjoying being the monster that is Metallica. Hardwired…to Self-Destruct is a double album but it probably didn’t need to be considering there are 12 songs overall, 6 songs on each.

The intense pace of opener Hardwired will have old-school Metallica fans smiling from ear to ear. It’s a short & snappy piece of thrash metal that sets up the rest of the album perfectly. Every one member of the band sounds on form even if some of Hetfield’s lyrics are a bit cheesy.

“We’re so fucked…shit out of luck…hardwired to self destruct”

The riffs that kick off Atlas, Rise promises a lot, something that isn’t ultimately delivered.The chorus hook is so catchy & Ulrich’s drumming is seriously on point. That’s about it though, the rest of the song meanders along & even a blistering Hammet solo can’t lift it.

It’s the last drop in quality on the first disc though as Now That We’re Dead brings a really dirty sounding riff to kick things off. It’s impossible to not think of earlier albums like Load & Reload when hearing this song, it has a similar sound that was found throughout those records. It’s a hell of a song that really shows off Hetfield’s fantastic vocals all backed up with a grimy beat.

This an album filled to the brim with riffs & it’s those that make Moth Into Flame such a strong song. It’s hooks just reach out & embed themselves in your brain. It also has one of the best solos of the entire record on it, Hammet may not have done much in regard to the writing of this album but he delivers in spades when it comes to playing his guitar!

The final two tracks of Disc 1 end things on a strong note. Dream No More’s slow & heavy beat is only bettered by some blistering drumming while Halo on Fire’s 8 minute length flies by in a blur of metal riffs & spitting vocal lines.

Disc 2 stats things off strongly with Confusion (the drumming is brilliant) before ManUNkind threatens to undo all that good work. It’s not a terrible song but it is the worst on the album lacking in the same vibe found elsewhere. Even the solo, while technically great, just feels out of place. It’s a chore to get through.

Here Comes Revenge sets things right with it’s fantastic jagged sounding riff that plays over the verses & a beat that will warm every Metallica fan’s soul. Any doubts about the quality of this album will be long gone at this stage but Am I Savage? ensures all questions are answered. That groovy riff is so sexy & the earlier comparison with the Load/Reload albums comes back into play here. This song has the same swagger found in those early albums but offers nods to even earlier roots & some of their inspirations. The heavy chug throughout is fantastic, it’s deep & brooding helped along by a pissed off sounding Hetfield.

The album comes to an end starting with a subtle melody before a rapid fire drum-beat introduces Murder One, it’s got a slow pace that works thanks to the much faster, Spit Out the Bone. Arguably the best song on the album, it’s as thrash metal as you’re going to get from Metallica in 2016. A whole album of songs like this would have been a mistake & its thanks to the variation that Spit Out the Bone sounds so incredible. This is a heavy, blasting number that hits all the right notes with riffs that just slay, some of the best vocal lines on the entire album & some seriously amazing drumming.

What an ending.

This feels like an album where Metallica are acknowledging their past without actively trying to pander to any one set of fans (pre-black album or post-black album). Is it perfect? No, but it’s easily the best Metallica album since The Black Album! It’s filled with riffs, solos, crushing bass lines & some of the best drumming of modern Metallica’s career.

The lows points are only so noticeable because of just how many high points Hardwired…to Self Destruct has. Welcome back Metallica, try not to make us wait so long next time, eh?

Full Track Listing:

Disc 1

  1. Hardwired
  2. Atlas, Rise!
  3. Now That We’re Done
  4. Moth Into Flame
  5. Dream No More
  6. Halo on Fire

Disc 2

  1. Confusion
  2. ManUNkind
  3. Here Comes Revenge
  4. Am I Savage?
  5. Murder One
  6. Spit Out the Bone

Metallica’s new album is out now on Blackened Recordings & can be picked up everywhere that sells music in some capacity!

Metallica - Self-Destruct (Blackened Recordings)
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    The Final Score - 8/10
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