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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Hardwired... to Self Destruct" (HTSD) is the new Metallica 8 years on following the maddeningly successful "Death Magnetic" (DM) that followed the insanely dreadful "St Anger" (SA). First the good news, it is streets ahead better on every level than "SA"; though that is not exactly a tall order, let's face it. Now the bad news... it is not really up to the standard of previous masterpieces "Kill", "Lightning", "Puppets", "Justice", "Black", and I am still more blown away by "DM" over this latest release. The problem is that Metallica have raised the bar so high that it is almost impossible to surpass it, therefore they are their own worst enemy having reached the pinnacle in the early years and the unmitigated radio success of commercial friendly "Black album". They are undeniable as musicians, but the new album suffers in terms of vocals in places and some of the lyrics are immature. Now arguably Hetfield has still got the raw mechanics to make a growl sound convincing, but I was so taken in by his cleaner vocals on "DM" and "Black" that I felt disappointed that he opts for the growls on "HTSD". At times he sounds auto tuned and often goes for a multi tracked mix to hide the scorched vocals and raspiness. Some will love this approach of course, but he has such a wonderful timber in his cleaner voice that it feels like a waste when he ignores this. It seems that Metallica are making a statement that they can thrash and bash with the best of them, despite being labelled as old dinosaurs, but they have more musical genius than just grinding out a speedy riff and growling for the duration of a song.

The opening track is the worst in this regard. It just states Metallica are back and we are not taking any prisoners. But why do they need to prove that? We know they are back in force by listening to "DM". No, the title track is one I will skip. And what's with all the F bombs and swearing? If they need to resort to swearing their heads off then that shows they are no better than any of the other unimaginative metallers out there who think they need to use expletives to try and ram home a point, but I prefer my Metallica more subtle than that. Anyway, at least it is a short song.

After this shaky start, the songs improve dramatically. Next offering, is the catchy raucous "Atlas, Rise!" and it is certainly a killer track. This one has the infectious hook in the chorus, that has an old school feel akin to the earlier Metallica we all grew up to adore. I was one of the headbangers of the 80s that bought "Kill" off the shelf and played it to death on vinyl. So it is a joy to revisit this old Metallica sound. It has a wonderful instrumental break, Hammett on wah wah pedal as usual but its a powerhouse performance with a half time feel riff. Another solo follows which is a sheer delight, until it returns to the main melody. A highlight.

"Now That We're Dead" begins with an extended intro with a crunching riff, simple but effective, and it just chunks along with some amazing double kick drum. The cool galloping trot riff works nicely with the vocals. The lead break is fantastic shredding with Hetfield's chops and I admire the nice slow pace on this track, a veritable headbanger.

"Moth into Flame" is the track that verges on brilliant; perhaps the stand out track of the album, opening with a frenetic fast paced riff and very angry vocals "Blacked out, Pop queen, amphetamine, The screams crashed into silence, Tapped out, Doused in the gasoline, The high times going timeless, Decadence, Death of the innocence, The pathway starts to spiral, Infamy, All for publicity, Destruction going viral, Light it up!" The rhythms are hyper fast and Ulrich is banging the heck out of the kit; no more banging on beer barrels ala "St Anger". The mid feel is an intense 8/8 pedal to the metal riff blast. The lead break is wah wah and fast fingering all the way. Hammett certainly unleashes a tirade of metal firepower on this track. It is as if Metallica are just unleashing their fury on this track. It is old school and everything we love about Metallica. Another highlight.

"Am I Savage?" is a straight forward slow track for a while until it moves into a proggish off beat riff prior to the chorus. I like how this shifts and changes throughout and the tims sigs are complex. Ulrich is terrific on this as he drums like a man possesed. It has a darker edge with the lyrics abnout the shapeshifting rage inner man can suffer from, "I don't recognise you anymore". The mid section feels like the sound on "Justice"; deep and bassy, and there is a great lead break to wrap your ears around.

"Halo on Fire" is another of the albums highlights; dynamic riffing with softerand great lyrics "Obey, obey, Come won't you stay, Sincere, sincere, All ends in tears, Endure, endure, Thoughts most impure, Concede, concede, But both shall we bleed, Oh, halo on fire, The midnight knows it well, Fast, is desire, Creates another hell I fear to turn on the light, For the darkness won't go away, Fast, is desire, Turn out the light Halo on fire!" The softer approach is welcome, acoustics and muzzled bass. Hetfield has a great voice here and uses it rather than screaming throughout. The half time feel is killer, with some really melodic riffage, and an infectious vocal treatment. The duel lead break is absolutely sensational. The outro is mind boggling, with brilliant infectious tune injected with the signature Metallica sound. The icing on the cake is the lead soloing finesse of Hammett as a capstone. Another highlight for sure along with "Atlas" and "Moth".

"Confusion" is just a wall to wall assault of raucous metal, with some great lead breaks and thrashing drums. Opening riff is like "Am I Evil" and partly you might hear portions of riffs from the "Justice" album. It could be misconstrued as the sequel to "One" though no where as brilliant. A bit of a throwaway to me but still delivers metal to the max.

"Dream No More" opens with a slow doomy riff. The feel is like "Harvester of Sorrow" meets "Sad But True". It grows on you with every listen, and finally I was enjoying the doomy crunchy riff. "You turn to stone" is quite a memorable lyric but the rest of this fades out as soon as it ends.

"ManUNkind" is a very intense track with killer riffing and very heavy lyrics. The lead break is simply stunning and it has a melodic chorus that stays with me. Like all these tracks there is an accompanying video clip and it features a parody of a Satanic metal band that snort drugs prior to going on stage and then proceed to cut themselves and bleed all over the insatiable crowd. The crowd are even more ravenous when the band throw the spiked pig's head to them, causing some fans to gourge themnselves on it. The band resemble Black Metal legends Mayhem so is perhaps just having an affectionate dig at them; but it is a real eye opener.

"Here Comes Revenge" is another throwaway with a pedestrian riff and vocals. The song blazes past almost without notice among some of the stronger tracks. The riff is too close to "Leper Messiah" and other Metallica of the past for my comfort, but it is not as bad as anything on "St Anger". The lead break fires up and relieves the mediocrity. Oh well, some will love it as usual, but this does little for me personally.

"Murder One" is dedicated to Motorhead's Lemmy; in fact the film clip is a tribute to him showing him with Hawkwind and explaining why he left and how he conquered with Motorhead as a result. The "Aces High" and "Man in Black" lyric is a clue but the clip makes it obvious, beautifully animated in a style akin to the Gorillaz video clips. The music is not as good as the clip but it cranks along with some angry vocals and a simple guitar motif but not as high standard as other tracks. The lead break is worth sticking around for, one of Hammett's most manic lead shreds.

"Spit Out the Bone" closes the album with a slice and dice metal riff motorvating along with purpose and power. This is absolutely one to wake up the senses with machine gun riffing and speed drumming. Once it gets going the pace is as fast as "Damage Inc" or "Whiplash" which will delight all Metallica addicts. There are some amazing riffs on this one, and a relentless tempo throughout with some detours into Pantera like chunks of metal. To cap it off the filmclip is brilliant with violent battling red ninjas, looking like a demented form of Star Wars Royal Guards complete with force pikes that electrocute their prey. The Iron Maiden like skull creature is a nice touch wrapped around a dystopian apocalyptic framework. The riffs at the four minute mark are superb, and it moves into a Slayer like metal feel at the 6 minute mark, as dynamic as anything on the metal scene today. A super fast lead break takes it away to the final chorus and mega fast riff. It ends the album on a high note.

So there you have it. It delivers and the news is good overall, apart from some lapses in to mediocrity in the second half of the album. There are at least 4 killer tracks that will have the Metallica universe buzzing; namely "Atlas", "Moth", "Halo" and "Bone"; as good as anything I have heard from Metallica. The other tracks are not so high standard but still deliver a whallop in their own right. It will appease the depraved Metallica fans who have to wait so long in between albums, and for those who were not that impressed with the Lulu album prior. It will be interesting to hear how other fans feel about this but I was underwhelmed apart from the aforementioned highlights. It should have been a masterpiece given the experience and undeniable talent but a lot of this album feels lazy and uninspired. I gave the earlier release 4 stars so it would be an injustice to award this new album that many stars. It deserves 3 stars at least for the great tracks without a doubt. It is those tracks that make this a worthwhile listen because they are Metallica at their best.

Report this review (#1644455)
Posted Friday, November 18, 2016 | Review Permalink
5 stars At this point, it's a long wait for when a new Metallica album comes around. While I'm in the minority of enjoying every Metallica album to a certain extent (not counting Lulu), with the release of the three singles, people were excited for this Metallica album. When the album was finally released, it has seemed to have caused a split among fans. Many people were underwhelmed and found it disappointing, and many people loved it and found it to be Metallica's best album in a long while.

I belong to the latter group, I think this is the band's best album since Load, if not Master of Puppets. As I'm one who loves Load, probably my third favorite Metallica album, that's nothing to be understated. Self Destruct brings together the best parts of both the thrash side and straight up heavy metal side of the band. Being a double album, this half-and-half sound works out (almost) perfectly. Disc one is pretty much a straight thrash metal assault, starting with the rampaging title cut that opens up the album. Switch the modern production values with an 80's sound, and this sounds ripped straight from one of the band's classic albums. "Atlas Rise" and "Moth Into Flame", the other two singles, are of the same caliber. While they don't sound straight out of the classics, they are indeed pure Metallica thrash.

Now those singles are all killer, but this album has a lot more to offer. "Dream No More" may very well be my favorite, with an infectiously catchy main hook. This one's more reminiscent of the band's crunchier songs like "The Thing That Should Not Be", which is interestingly my favorite from Master of Puppets. Disc two lands more on the groovy Black Album/Load-esque heavy metal sound, with the winner from those being "Am I Savage?". You know, this may even beat Load even though it's of similar style. I find it impossible to not bang my head to the groovy swagger of the main riff, and the main chorus is great. "Spit Out the Bone" is the one exception of the general sound on disc two. This song is all-out thrash, showing the most relentless aggression from the band in a long while while retaining amazing melodies.

All the members of the band are all in complete top form. Hetfield gives absolutely amazing vocal performances, killer riffing from both Hammett and Hetfield, great drumming from Ulrich, and you can actually hear Trujillo's awesome rumbling basslines. You can especially hear the latter in "Am I Savage?". It all really comes together during the chorus of "Dream No More", with the absolutely punishing riffs fronted with Hetfield's gargantuan vocals.

All the songs are great in my book, but the songs I mentioned are certainly all the highlights. I think this is easily up there with the band's best albums, although I think it would have been nice if they released the two discs as separate albums. If they did do that though, "Halo on Fire" and "Spit Out the Bone" would have to be switched around. "Spit Out the Bone", while overall it would fit better on the first disc, works as a perfect finale to the album as it is. If you're a fan of Metallica, and not just the 80's classics, check this killer album out.

Report this review (#1664544)
Posted Tuesday, December 6, 2016 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#1701207)
Posted Saturday, March 11, 2017 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars It sometimes seems Metallica can't catch a break these days...they move on from and admirably experiment with their sound and get labelled `sell-outs', they return to something closer to their metal roots and they're accused of lazily re-creating their past - sigh! Let's just think of Metallica as simply a consistent (and frequently great) hard rock band and enjoy their latest, 2016's `Hard Wired...To Self Destruct'. Hardly some complete re-invention but absolutely delivering plenty of superb moments, this double CD/LP collection shows the band playing to their strengths and offering a set that will appeal to both fans of the pre-`Black Album' metal LP's and the eclectic hard rock of their `Load' onward sound, but delivering a work that could never be confused for anyone except Metallica.

A short and sweet statement of intent, `Hardwired' is a punchy little three-minute opener, a rudimentary and energetic thrash metal throwback of Kirk Hammett's buzzsaw-like riffing guitars, James Hetfield's charismatic snarl and Lars Ulrich's absurdly big smashing drumming that could have easily hailed from Metallica's first album `Kill 'Em All'! The gutsy `Atlas, Rise!' is full of momentum, revealing that subtle complexity found in most modern Metallica songs, with a great (if too short) wailing soloing instrumental burst in the middle, a clever and not obviously catchy chorus, and several moments that might have easily come from any Iron Maiden album with its ringing twin guitar melodies.

`Now That We're Dead' chugs with danger through lengthy instrumental stretches and not one, but two killer choruses! The verses of the celebrity damning `Moth Into Flame' would again have easily fit on their early thrashy albums but the chorus is more ambitious, `Dream No More' is a lurching slab-like dirge with a light stoner rock flavour to the verse vocals, and `Halo on Fire' offers a nice break of clean verses of mysteriously chiming guitars, a sweetly raspy Hetfield vocal and a seamless shift in and out of several highly proggy passages and a suitably epic instrumental soloing run finale - the fact that one of the most commercially successful and mainstream popular rock bands delivers stuff like this is simply inspiring, they may just convert more of the non-prog listening `muggles' yet!

The second disc's opener `Confusion' is a reliable `meat-and-two-veg' Metallica plodder, but it's not quite up to the standard of previous war-themed tracks that were always a band highlight in the past - nice battery of machine-gun drumming throughout from Lars, though! `ManUNkind' is thankfully better that its slightly cringe-worthy title, and now long-established with the band bass player Robert Trujillo gets plenty of moments to shine, with a brief solo introduction and then bouncing furiously when the main heavy grooves kick in. The track almost sounds like Metallica having a lot of fun, as the band races through a string of varied riffing passages back and forth. `Here Comes Revenge' (with a main riff that comes awfully close in parts to `Master of Puppets' `Leper Messiah'), while again not one of the more memorable tunes on the set, has a nice tension to the verses and the chorus rumbles satisfactorily even if the lyrics aren't the strongest.

`Am I Savage?' has plenty of slow grinding grooves even if the `beast of choice' lyric is a bit embarrassing and forced, `Murder One' is an admirable tribute to legendary bass player Lemmy (more likely an influence from his Motorhead days than the psychedelic warlords Hawkwind!) with reliable slow-burn trudging riffs, but thankfully frantic closer `Spit Out The Bone' is a skittering break-neck thrash-attack that has the band full of energy and inspiration tearing through a range of fiery snarling serrated riffs that again happily embraces their early days. Overall the second disc is not as strong as the first six pieces, but there's nothing outright bad to be found here, and the group end on a total killer that fans will likely go crazy for.

Some editions come with a third disc of bonus tracks - `Lords of Summer' being another dependable thrashy rocker - some medleys and covers of tracks by Rainbow, Deep Purple and Iron Maiden, and a cool live concert from April 2016 that focuses on the first two albums `Kill 'Em All' and `Ride the Lightning'. All in all a welcome bonus for the bigger fans.

So the slightly try-hard artwork is kind of rubbish ("Ooh, they're sooooo hardcore, so tortured!!"), and it definitely suffers from the same filler bloat that pads out all the `Load' onward discs, but `Hard Wired...To Self Destruct' is still a ballsy, kick-ass Metallica album that many fans should enjoy. It maintains that fusion of the old and new that previous album `Death Magnetic' offered in 2008 (was it seriously that long ago already?!), and it's still great to see the band re-embracing and acknowledging their past but not merely remaking it, yet delivering simply another great Metallica disc that most fans should love.

Four stars.

Report this review (#1704528)
Posted Thursday, March 23, 2017 | Review Permalink
3 stars Despite Metallica never having made an album quite like this before, this album sounds like Metallica had been making albums just like this for decades, and that's both a good and a bad thing. Not only is this a "pure" heavy metal/thrash metal album that lacks any diversity to anger the hardcore faithful that had grown tried of justifying Metallica and later "betrayals" to themselves (and I say this as somebody who enjoys both Metallica and a good deal of what came after), it also finally shows the band making a thrash metal that shows no hint whatsoever of the structural pattern, introduced on Lightning, that had lasted through Justice and that ultimately shaped Death Magnetic. The band sounds completely comfortable in its own skin as the old man godfathers of thrash metal, and this album is a full-blown celebration and glorification of that style, without needing to rely on past successes as a crutch. So what's the bad news? The bad news is that, as wonderful and amazing as it is that the band has finally found its way back to what, in a certain sense, it probably should have been all along, they've gotten back to it so late in the game that, frankly, they're just not that great at it anymore. The album is filled with riffs and performances that sound great in 15-second increments, but as nice as many of the individual segments are, they don't ultimately get cobbled together into especially great songs. It doesn't help that Hammett is weirdly flat and subdued on this album; he doesn't have any writer credits on here, and while I don't entirely know what went into that, I do know that there isn't a really iconic Hammett solo anywhere on the main album (there's one in "Atlas, Rise!" that comes close), and that's a disappointment. It also isn't great that the main portion of this so ridiculously long, stretching over two CDs and lasting nearly as long as Load (and longer than Reload); I kinda regret that they couldn't find a way to rework and combine the better sections of the various songs to make a stronger 45 minute album as opposed to this somewhat weaker 78 minute one.

There are a few songs that require special mention beyond "this is enjoyable thrash metal when on and you'll forget about it 10 seconds later," fortunately. The opening "Hardwired" is the shortest song on the album by a mile (only 3:09) and makes incredibly effective use of its time, combining break-neck speed with a nice riff built around a downward phrase followed by an upwards rolling one, and the brief Hammett solo, while a pale shadow of earlier efforts, is rousing in context. The following "Atlas, Rise!" has some clear differentiation in the two main guitar parts and a number of dramatic moments that take a good stab at hearkening back to the band's peak, and it's full of interesting rhythms and harmonies that make it into at least a minor classic. Later on, "Halo on Fire," which closes the first disc, is the longest track on here (8:15), and in addition to some especially rousing instrumental parts it has the album's best "chorus" (to the extent that this album has choruses) when James sings "Turn out the light, halo on fire!" I can't really say if the various riffs in this song are really that much better than the individual riffs that appear on the bulk of the rest of the album, but I can say that they fit together better here than the riffs fit together on most of the other songs.

That leaves nine other songs on the main album and ... oh boy ... hmm ... umm ... hmm. I like every one of them when they're on! I remember almost nothing about them when they're done! "Confusion" has an opening that alludes to the "Am I Evil?" single, and I like the churning riffage that emerges from that introduction. "Here Comes Revenge" has an anguished screaming guitar sound over the pummelling main riff that I like. "Am I Savage?" features a peculiar Hammett guitar sound over one of the main riffs that I think sounds pretty neat. "Spit Out the Bone" has a lot of speed and energy in the grand tradition of speedy energetic Metallica thrash closers, and it's nice. And the rest is fine, I guess. One thing I find interesting was that I received a comment from someone soon after this came out mentioning that they thought that I might end up liking the second disc a lot because the lack of clear structure and organization of the riffage makes it more "progressive," but ultimately I don't really feel that way at all.

So that's the main album, which has lots of enjoyable aspects but ultimately doesn't come together in a fully satisfying manner. The good news, then, is that, upon initial release, this album was easily obtainable in a 3-CD "deluxe" addition (I honestly don't even remember seeing the 2-CD version available, or if it was the cost difference wasn't enough to convince me not to get the larger one), and I'm glad that I got the deluxe version, because the third disc is an absolute delight. The first track, "Lords of Summer" was released as a single in 2014, so I guess they decided it wouldn't be a good idea to include it on the proper album, but that's too bad, because it's better than anything on the main album other than the first two tracks. The main riffs are a great combination of memorable and powerful, and there's a great slithering Hammett solo that grows into something really cool, and this one really feels like it could have belonged on one of the band's best albums. The next few tracks are covers, and while I could see a Metallica fan rolling their eyes at these and thinking these are a waste of time, I find them a blast. There's a nice cover of the Deep Purple B-side ballad "When a Blind Man Cries," and the studio cover of "Remember Tomorrow" (from the first Iron Maiden album) and the live cover of "Helpless" (a Diamond Head song that kicked off Garage Inc. way back when) are both lots of fun, but the most fun comes from a medley of Rainbow songs (called "Ronnie Rising Medley") that the band had previously recorded for a Dio tribute album. "A Light in the Black," "Tarot Woman, "Stargazer" and "Kill the King" are referenced here, and while Rainbow-purists might be horrified by this (how many Rainbow purists are there anyway??), I absolutely love this.

And then there's a truckload of live stuff! In April 2016, in honor of Record Store Day, Metallica put on a brief concert at Rasputin Music in Berkeley, CA (a fine establishment that, along with Amoeba, was essentially my home away from home during grad school) that only included songs from Kill 'Em All and Ride the Lightning, and oh how I love listening to this. The Lightning choices aren't especially shocking (the title track, "Fade to Black," "For Whom the Bell Tolls," "Creeping Death"), and to be honest it's not that shocking to hear them do "The Four Horsemen," but hearing the band tear through "Hit the Lights," "Jump in the Fire" and "Metal Militia" makes me believe in the power of music to keep somebody young, and I would have loved to have been present for this. And finally, the disc closes with a perfect bookend, the first live performance of "Hardwired" (which, again, starts the album) before release, and my feelings towards the set finish up pretty positive on the whole.

Still, as great as the bonus material here might be, that doesn't change that I find the main album a bit of a slog, so I can only go so high with the rating. There's no reason for a Metallica fan not to buy this, but there's pretty much no chance that it will convert somebody who doesn't already really like the band. This will go down in history as a second-tier Metallica album, and honestly, there are much worse things in the world than that.

Report this review (#1770214)
Posted Friday, August 11, 2017 | Review Permalink
5 stars 5/4/17 (3 1/2 stars) - "Hardwired... To Self-Destruct" was 5 stars when it came out. Each single was major, and I stayed up all night listening to the album on the day of its release. What's more, that day I was packed with so much energy - in short, the album rejuvenated me.

The problem with the album is not that it isn't as good as Metallica's earlier stuff because honestly, it is still really good. Rather, the problem is that it just doesn't last. Unlike the true goodies and all the 5-star albums out there, it does not guarantee all those months and even years of listening. Hardly can most imagine the next generation listening to this album, and rather obvious is that absolutely no one in the generation afterward would have even heard of it.

As far as the album goes, people have managed to agree that it is pretty much modern-sounding thrash. "Hardwired" is most likely the craziest song on the album, with its three minutes of chaos. All the other songs are pinned at six or seven minutes, a reasonable length. While the first disc is half singles and all epics, the second disc is made up of slightly more gradual pieces. That is to say, they are still all thrash and epic, but not to the same extent as the first disc's

"Spit Out The Bone" was the perfect song to end the album, and the deluxe version's third disc had all of the right songs, as well. "Ronnie Rising Medley" and "When a Blind Man Cries" would have went unnoticed if they weren't included, and the older Metallica songs were surely some of their best.

In short, "Hardwired... To Self Destruct" is a fantastic album for Metallica to have released as possibly their last new studio work. On the other hand, it will be lost in time, and it has already lost its appeal to most of those that have excessively listened to it. It is quite sad... well, it is still awesome that they have made it this far. If Metallica can release another album just as good, I'm sure everyone will be flattered.

5/18/17 (EDIT: 5 stars) - I made the mistake to review this album before I saw most of it live. The second Metallica started with "Hardwired" my mouth dropped open and I was lost in a world of crazy fantasy. Honestly, as they continued through "Atlas, Rise!", "Moth Into Flame", and "Now That We're Dead"... It is awesome how my opinion changed so drastically!

This is an album for the centuries, and nothing Metallica has done or will do will EVER go to waste!

Report this review (#1867304)
Posted Tuesday, January 16, 2018 | Review Permalink
3 stars Now, don't get me wrong, I love Metallica. I didn't mind them going alternative rock. I didn't mind them playing with an orchestra. I didn't mind them using trash cans for snares. But the only thing I've considered a detriment to all their albums since the mid-90's is that they're all so bloody long! And that has never been more evident than with 'Hardwired... To Self Destruct'.

The thing is, eight-minute songs (and longer) worked for the band back in the day, but since the rise of Dream Theater and progressive metal since the early 90's, it really feels like a field in which Metallica can't compete anymore. And in fact, maybe they were better suited to the stadium anthem vibe of 1991's self-titled album, because every song having a ridiculously and unnecessarily long intro, or intricate musical passages that feel like the band are just going through the motions, is getting a bit tedious now.

Criticisms aside, 'Hardwired...' follows on from 2008's 'Death Magnetic', in which Metallica have readily accepted a return to being a (thrash?) metal band. The music is heavy and fast, with lots of tasty riffs and each member really trying to get the most out of their somewhat limited musical prowess. Highlights include 'Moth Into Flame', which is one kickass tune, 'Now That We're Dead', 'Atlas, Rise', 'Spit Out the Bone' and 'Halo On Fire'. All of which are decent tracks that have the makings of great songs, but suffer from the aforementioned duration issues.

Special editions of this album came with a third disc, but there isn't much to write home about here. A bonus track (which goes on for too long), a few covers from various tribute albums, none of them are overly inspirational, and nine live tracks of songs we've already heard countless live versions of, make this hardly worth the investment.

After all that, however, 'Hardwired...' isn't a terrible album. It does show a lot of promise at times, but it really gives off an impression that Metallica aren't fully engaged with what they're doing unless they're trying something new or challenging themselves. Going alternative rock, playing with orchestras, theatrical movies, collaborations... seems like anything that takes them out of their comfort zone is really where they're most comfortable. While 'Hardwired...', to Metallica anyway, is just another metal album.

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Posted Thursday, January 25, 2018 | Review Permalink

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