Metallica – Hardwired… To Self-Destruct [Deluxe Edition]
2016, Blackened Recordings
2. “Atlas, Rise!”
3. “Now That We’re Dead”
4. “Moth Into Flame”
5. “Dream No More”
6. “Halo on Fire”
3. “Here Comes Revenge”
4. “Am I Savage?”
5. “Murder One”
6. “Spit Out the Bone”
1. “Lords of Summer”
2. “Ronnie Rising Medley”
3. “When a Blind Man Cries”
4. “Remember Tomorrow”
6. “Hit the Lights” (live)
7. “The Four Horsemen” (live)
8. “Ride the Lightning” (live)
9. “Fade to Black” (live)
10. “Jump in the Fire” (live)
11. “For Whom the Bell Tolls” (live)
12. “Creeping Death” (live)
13. “Metal Militia” (live)
14. “Hardwired” (live)
8 years after Death Magnetic, Metallica finally delivers a brand new studio album, a double-disc release, no less (three discs if you buy the deluxe version). I was a big fan of Death Magnetic. It was easily the band album the band did since the Black Album, and I even enjoyed Beyond Magnetic (an EP of leftovers from the Death Magnetic sessions). So, I was looking forward to new music from Metallica.
At first listen, my initial thoughts on this album were that it was okay, below Death Magnetic standards, but not terrible. With repeated listens the album has grown on me. At two discs and 77 minutes, listening to the entire album is a tiring experience. Just as with the Load and ReLoad albums, if Metallica could’ve whittled these sessions down to ONE disc, they could’ve had something really good. Funny enough, during press for this album James Hetfield mentioned something to the same effect in regards to Load and ReLoad, yet he apparently doesn’t have a problem with the standard issue of Hardwired… being a double-disc offering.
Sadly, this is the first Metallica album to not feature Kirk Hammett songwriting credits. He lost all of his riff ideas when he lost his phone (What, no backup?). I guess the band had a tight schedule as songwriting and recording continued as planned with James & Lars contributing to the majority of the songwriting (Robert Trujillo gets one credit on “ManUNkind”). That might explain why some of the solos here are kinda lackluster at times since Kirk was coming up with them on the spot.
Okay, so what about the songs? Almost all tracks come across in one of two ways. It’s either the band taking inspiration from their thrash days or the band writing really heavy songs that could’ve fit on either Load or ReLoad. Thrash or the “U2 version of Metallica”. That’s what comes to mind when listening to these songs. Nothing sounds super slick and radio ready like the band’s self-titled black album, and yet I don’t think much here sounds like Death Magnetic either.
“Hardwired”, “Atlas, Rise!”, “Moth Into Flame”, “Murder One” and “Spit Out the Bone” pay the most homage to the band’s thrash roots. “Am I Savage?” (I don’t know, can you tell me if you’re evil as well?), “Now That We’re Dead”, “Dream No More”, “Halo On Fire”, “ManUNkind”, and “Here Comes Revenge” could be from the Load & ReLoad days. With the exception of “Here Comes Revenge”, which kinda sucks, the rest of these tracks have really started to grow on me. Especially the thrashier ones.
Look, Metallica can never be the band that they were during the ’80s, but the heaviest and fastest tracks on this album prove that they are still a formidable metal band capable of still producing great thrash songs. As for the songs that sound like they could’ve come from the Load sessions, even those are pretty good, with “Now That We’re Dead” being the standout from that bunch.
The bonus (third) disc is a collection of covers (Ronnie James Dio, Deep Purple, Iron Maiden & Diamondhead) and live tracks, plus “Lords of Summer”, a track the band release back in 2014 during that year’s summer tour. It’s a good track, but since it’s 2 years old already, I’m glad they didn’t included it on the standard album.
This is an album that definitely could’ve benefited by having 2 or 3 songs removed, but Hardwired… to Self-Destruct is a strong album and worthy addition to the band’s catalog.
Highlights: “Hardwired”, “Atlas, Rise!”, “Now That We’re Dead”, “Moth Into Flame”, “Murder One”, “Spit Out the Bone”, “Lords of Summer”