metallica hardwired
Metallica

 

Hardwired…To Self-Destruct

 

Blackened Records

 

10 out of 10

 

Review by: Slim Jim Keller

 

 

Ok, now that they hype and bullshit has died down, let’s talk about Metallica’s new album Hardwired…To Self-Destruct.

I’m always hopeful when Metallica finally gets around to releasing a new album. Having followed them since 1983, I have a lot of time, effort, money, and blood sweat and tears invested in this band. And when you only get an album every 8 years… well, the anticipation and expectation builds up to ridiculously high levels.

Listen, I loved Load and Reload, I think there’s some great songs on St. Anger, and some seriously heavy as fuck riffs buried in the bloated songs and shitball production. Lulu is and always will be Lulu, that is a Lou Reed album. Take the vocals out and you can jam the fuck out to some good riffs and song writing there too. Try it, it might just surprise you.

So now that you know where I am coming from let’s talk Hardwired

We all heard the lead off song, Hardwired long before the album came out… and the hype machine began to crank up. ‘The best of Metallica since ‘Puppets’ ‘ ‘A return to the classic Metallica sound.’ Blah Blah Blah. Bullshit and bovine farts.

You can’t go back to Puppets. The band can’t go back to Puppets. And really, who wants them to? Who really truly wants Master of Puppets VOL 2? Not me. I simply want a great album full of ferocious riffs, great song writing and a production value I can listen to over and over again.

And that my friends, is where we start here. Death Magnetic housed many great songs blown out by the shitty mastering. The album suffered for it, the audience suffered for it and as much as it was a massive improvement from St. Anger’s production, it still sucked. If I want my album to be loud, I’ll turn the fucking volume up. I don’t need the album mastering to be so jacked up the song clips within itself before I ever touch the volume.

The band then released Moth Into Flame and the world shook. Holy sweet Jesus titties the main riff running through this song flows faster than a motorhead’s bloody crank filled nose. This was no rehash of Puppets, Lightning or Justice, this was the biggest metal band in the world once again planting their flag in the sand with all 8 middle fingers waving at everyone who ever doubted that they could actually write ‘heavy’ again. A giant ‘Fuck You’ to everyone who said they were washed up, they weren’t metal, they were has-beens. And they weren’t even close to being finished.

The last single to drop before the album came out was Atlas, Rise! Which was a true to modern form Metallica song. No disrespect to the song, it is solid, it has riffs, it kicks mucho ass, but I think Moth Into Flame made a much better impact and message.

Finally we got the album, and much was written about the ‘return’ of Metallica. Obviously nobody has been paying attention to the band the last 8 years. The movie, the tours, the special shows, etc. The band never left, hell, they have only released 4 albums in the last 19 years. Let’s get serious here. This isn’t a band that releases an album, tours for a year, records for a year, wash, rinse, repeat. The older they get, the longer it takes to get music from them, and it is painfully slow I agree. But when they drop such solid gems as Death Magnetic and Hardwired…To Self-Destruct, it almost makes up for the 8 years sans new Metallica music.

I’ve been asked repeatedly what my favorite cut off the album is and why. And I’m here to tell you I have no idea. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to the album. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to certain songs over and over again. It would be easier for me to just tell you what sticks out to me as I listen to it.

The aforementioned Hardwired kicks off the album, and gives way to Atlas, Rise!. We’ve all heard those, but then we’re given the mid-tempo Now That We’re Dead with its open throttled bass line and precision (YES I SAID PRECISION) drum line and fills as the intro to the song spreads out over a minute and a half.

From there we’re blasted into oblivion by Moth Into Flame.

Dream No More may… MAY… be my favorite track on this album. That is until I hear Halo On Fire. Remember when I said we can’t go back to Puppets? Well, I meant it, but we CAN go back to Load/Reload apparently, because this track, Dream No More, would fit right into either album quite well and not feel out of place at all. A combination of the swinging main riff and the vocals and effects on the vocal harken back to the Load/Reload era. But it is none the less a kick ass song. And as I said… It may be my favorite song on the album… Until the next song plays.

Which brings us to Halo On Fire. The opening sounds like something off the last 10 Megadeth albums, and then it falls into a ‘Day That Never Comes’ feel as the vocals begin. But the chorus, the cry, the music, the build, the feel, James’ voice, all coalesce into something that can only be described as Halo On Fire. And this may be my favorite song on the album. Until the next song begins.


I will say, after several listens I think the one drawback I have has become James’ voice. There are a few different tones here, and a couple of songs with different effects on his vocals to switch it up a bit. But overall the older he gets, the weaker the voice gets (Duh, I know it’s that way with everyone), but it also narrows more and more so that despite the different tempos, arrangements, etc on the various songs, they all kind of sound alike because of his vocals.

The other stand outs (possible favorite songs) are Here Comes Revenge, Am I Savage? And the band’s tribute to Lemmy on Murder One.

The closing track on the album, Spit Out The Bone is a high-speed metal masterwork. Drum solos, bass solos, guitar solos, it has it all, and it isn’t even an instrumental. But it shows the band in all their 50 year old glory getting their ya ya’s off as only Metallica can. And it might be my favorite song on the album, until I go back to the beginning and spin it all over again…

This, ladies and gentlemen, will probably rest high on top of my Best of 2016 list which will be out in a couple weeks. I still have to spend a couple hours with the Childish Gambino’s new album and see what the fuss is there.

I think Cherri said it best, if you were a fan, if you are a fan, or if you’ve never sat down and really listened to Metallica, then this is the modern masterpiece you all deserve.