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Metallica - Hardwired...To Self-Destruct CD (album) cover

HARDWIRED...TO SELF-DESTRUCT

Metallica

 

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3.57 | 61 ratings

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UMUR
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Hardwired'To Self-Destruct" is the 10th full-length studio album by US heavy/thrash metal act Metallica (not counting "Lulu (2011)", which is a collaboration album with Lou Reed, and therefore shouldn't be considered a Metallica album). The album was released through Blackened Recordings in November 2016. At this point in their career Metallica are notorious for taking their sweet time between releasing studio albums, and if you don't count "Lulu (2011)", it's actually been 8 years since the release of their last studio album "Death Magnetic (2008)". They've also cut down on their touring activities working a schedule which also takes their family lives into consideration. In addition to that the various members of the band also have other projects going like "Kirk Von Hammett's Fear FestEvil" festival and the "Metallica Through the Never (2013)" movie. So they've branched out a bit since the turn of the century and their music career is now only a part of what they do. Not all they do.

Stylistically "Hardwired'To Self-Destruct" is part heavy metal and part thrash metal, but it leans less on the latter than Metallica did on "Death Magnetic (2008)". There are still some pretty thrash metal oriented parts here and there though, so it's just an album where Metallica combines some melodic heavy metal ideas with more aggressive thrash metal ditto. "Death Magnetic (2008)" was a great album in many ways, but first and foremost it was a great album because it felt like a comeback after "St. Anger (2003)", which many fans consider the low point of the band's discography. "Death Magnetic (2008)" is not an album where you remember many tracks from if you haven't listened to it often though, and it's clear to me now that Metallica used that album to make a point rather than creating the best album they could (It's still a good quality release of course). "Hardwired'To Self-Destruct" feels more natural, less forced and calculated, and it's a much more simple, catchy, and memorable album than both of its two immediate predecessors, and it feels great to again hear Metallica produce something a bit more memorable.

"Hardwired'To Self-Destruct" is a 2 disc release featuring 12 tracks and full playing time of 77:26 minutes. So the album actually could have fit on a single disc, but Metallica probably chose the 2 disc approach for effect. They are children of the vinyl age, and to anyone who remember those days, it's bound to fill them with nostalgia thinking of the times you had to rise from where you sat/lay and had to turn the vinyl from side A to B. It may have been annoying back then, but I've come to realize in retrospect that you listened to music much more intimately and discovered more details that way, instead of being bludgeoned with 60-80 minutes of music without breaks which many albums of the CD/Digital age feed you. I can't say for sure if that's why Metallica have chosen the 2 disc option, but it's my guess.

As mentioned above the material on the album shifts between relatively melodic and catchy heavy metal riffs (and quite a few harmony guitar sections), rhythms, and vocals, and more aggressive hard edged thrash metal ditto. Sometimes combined in the same song, and sometimes more isolated in the case of particular tracks. Tracks like "Hardwired" and especially "Spit Out the Bone" are for example pretty thrashy tracks, while there are other tracks on the album which only feature thrash metal leanings. There are several highlights on the album like the two above mentioned and "Atlas, Rise!", "Murder One", and "Am I Savage?", but the quality of the tracks are generally high in the regard that they are all memorable and punchy with a great swing.

There's something about the way Lars Ulrich's drumming and James Hetfield's guitar riffs interlock, which work wonders. Sometimes it's almost too simple and you could wish for a bit more complex rhythm work (in the drum department), but on the other hand Ulrich understands how to make a song swing and rock. Robert Trujillo delivers a solid performance on the bass, although it could be argued that his considerable skills aren't put to the best of use, but on the other hand slap bass and other crazy bass techniques probably wouldn't sound that great on Metallica's music. Kirk Hammett deserves a mention too for his solid guitar solos. It's not too flashy and there is as usual a lot of wah wha pedal use, but his playing suits the rest of the music perfectly. Last but not least Hetfield's vocals are generally a joy throughout the album, and I think I hear new sides of Hetfield on this album that I haven't heard before. It's great to hear he hasn't stagnated when it comes to his vocals.

Despite some early reservations "Hardwired'To Self-Destruct" has won me over. Repeated listens have opened the album up to me, and the sound production, which I initially found a bit flat and lifeless, also works pretty well. It's audible that much time and preperation have been put into writing and creating the album and the sound production too, and upon conclusion "Hardwired'To Self-Destruct" is a high quality release and by far strongest Metallica album in years. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

UMUR | 4/5 |

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