Metallica – ‘Hardwired… To Self-Destruct’

By Christopher Lee

It’s been the best part of a decade since the San Francisco based kings of thrash metal released any new material and whilst it might feel like Metallica haven’t ever been far from the limelight during this period that’s because the band have toured solidly during this time. With a huge following and expansive back catalogue to pluck hits from for their live set the hardcore fans might have been forgiven for thinking the day might never come that we’d hear a new riff from Kirk or vocal from James. 

 

But here we are on the eve of the band’s latest entry ‘Hardwired… To Self-Destruct’ and hot damn has it been worth the wait. The band’s studio releases to date are something that the most ardent of Metallica fans could argue over for hours. While most rock fans would probably agree that albums such as ‘The Black Album’ and ‘Master of Puppets’ are some of the best metal albums ever recorded, other releases such as ‘Load’ and ‘St. Anger’ fall far from the bar set by earlier material. 2008’s ‘Death Magnetic’ went some way in restoring faith to the masses but this album takes what has come before and builds on it.

 

Opening with the furious pace of ‘Hardwired’ the album sets the tone from the off, bombarding you with riffs galore and typical Hetfield lyrics which are some of his best to date. It’s clear from tracks such as ‘Atlas, Rise!’ that the band have taken influences from other giants of the rock world such as Iron Maiden but still hold true to their philosophy, which proved so successful back when the band first burst onto the scene nearly 30 years ago.

 

James’ rhthym guitar playing is still hands down one of the best out there and this is abundantly clear in tracks ‘Now That We’re Dead’ and ‘Moth Into Flame’ where his riffs are crisp and almost hypnotic. Not to be outdone, Kirk’s solos are among some of the best to date. Long gone are the days of that famous “no solos on this album” line from the St. Anger days, only proving just what an incredible artist he is. After the loss of a mobile phone containing all of his ideas from the last eight years, he went into the studio with almost no source material. Towards the end of the first disc, the album slows down the pace somewhat with ‘Dream No More’, a track reminiscent of ‘The Black Album’, and ends with the Santana inspired ‘Halo On Fire’

 

The second half of the double sided album kicks off with the heavy drum intro of ‘Confusion’ but quickly progresses into what is possibly the band’s most expansive and progressive sound to date. ‘ManUNkind’ which is the only track on the album not written exclusively by Hetfield and Ulrich has a sound very similar to ‘The Unforgiven’ of old. The tracks then start to ramp up in pace. ending with the stand out track of the album ‘Spit out the bone’, incorporating everything together perfectly from tight riffs to shredding guitar solos with a backing of spot-on drums and bass.

 

Being such a huge band – and having the back catalogue a band like Metallica possess – any new release is always going to divide opinion between fans, however this is undoubtedly a return to form for one of, if not THE biggest metal bands of our time. Anyone of the tracks would fit seamlessly into the band’s live set. From what the band have been saying it’s unlikely we’ll have to wait another eight years for the next release and let’s hope that’s the case. In the meantime, let’s savour what the band have produced this time around, and that’s one of the albums of the year!

 

CHRIS LEE

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