Metallica’s Hardwired…To Self-Destruct – Review

It’s been a long eight years since Metallica put out Death Magnetic.  With positive responses to the singles that had been released before the album itself, expectations were fairly high for Hardwired…To Self Destruct. Not to mention Metallica has a tendency to work at their own pace, shown by how they promised an eventual album release for the past two years.

The opening track “Hardwired” is by far the shortest song, coming in at over three minutes. This track is also by far my favorite, with the refrain “we’re so f-cked, s-t outta luck, hardwired to self-destruct” hitting home for many after this past year.

All three of the songs that were released earlier in the year (“Hardwired”, ”Atlas Rise” and “Moth Into Flame”) are on the first disc, which is the stronger of the two. Many will recognize the familiar intro riff of “Sad But True” in “Dream No More,” a dedication to H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu. The first half ends with the eight-minute “Halo on Fire,” which alternates between rock and metal, with James Hetfield singing in his more aggressive style.

The second disc is more progressive, yet noticeably darker, than the first. This disc features many great tracks like the opener “Confusion,” which is packed with great riffs and some amazing solos from Hammett, and “Murder One,” Metallica’s tribute to the late, great Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead.

While an overall solid album, Hardwired…To Self-Destruct suffers from issues with time. Some of the tracks seem too long for their own good, and could’ve been cut down without suffering from lack of content. That said, the album does a good job of keeping the listener’s attention, and any fatigue is erased with the closing track “Spit Out the Bone,” which is the perfect bookend to “Hardwired.”

While Death Magnetic was criticized for sounding overly compressed, this doesn’t seem to be an issue with Hardwired…To Self-Destruct. Former Death Magnetic engineer and mixer, Greg  Fidelman (Black Sabbath, U2, Johnny Cash) was brought on as a producer, having worked with the band for the past several years as the co-producer on Lulu and overseeing the live soundtrack Through the Never.

Hardwired…To Self-Destruct is the first Metallica where Kirk Hammett did not contribute to the songwriting since he joined the band. However, that doesn’t mean his presence is lacking – quite the opposite – with the numerous creative solos heard throughout the album. James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich carried most of the load when it came to songwriting, with bassist Robert Trujillo getting credit for co-writing “ManUNKind.”

One song that wasn’t featured on this album was “Lords of Summer,” a single released in 2014. However, a re-recorded version of the song does appear on a third disc that is a bit shorter than the original. The deluxe edition also features “Ronnie Rising,” a tribute melody to the late Ronnie James Dio, that originally appeared as part of a tribute compilation album to Dio called This Is Your Life. Other tracks on the deluxe edition are covers of Deep Purple’s “When a Blind Man Cries” and Iron Maiden’s “Remember Tomorrow,” as well as remastered versions of nine songs performed live at Rasputin Music in Berkeley, Calif., during Record Store Day this year.

The band also put out a music video for every song on the album. Noticeable among these videos is the one for “ManUNKind” which acts as a tribute to the black metal scene. Directed by Jonas Akerlund (Beyonce, Rammstein), who is set to direct the “Lords of Chaos” film which will focus on the Norwegian black metal scene in the late 1980s/early 1990s, the video features a band that looks similar to early Mayhem, beginning with Pers “Dead” Ohlin taking a whiff of a dead crow before going on stage to cut himself open with a knife.

All in all, Hardwired…To Self-Destruct continues to build on what the band made in Death Magnetic, but incorporates elements from previous albums like Kill ‘Em All and Master of Puppets. The result is an album that sounds familiar, and pushes the band forward.

You can watch the music videos for Hardwired…To Self-Destruct below. Comment and tell us what you think!

David Gagnon

Born in the Chicago suburb of Wheaton, Dave has laid down his soul to the gods rock n' roll. He attended Columbia College Chicago as a major in Creative Writing. Some of his favorite things are heavy metal and pizza.

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