While the album’s title track was a tightly-wound, agitated thrash workout coming in at 198 seconds (lean and mean by Metallica’s standards), its follow-up is a full-fat six minutes. Moth Into Flame has ramped up the excitement levels even further.
It begins with a two-guitar old school riff, punctuated by Lars riding a hi-hat that gradually builds until the main riff comes in. It powers in like a train laden with steel girders. It chugs like a beer lover at Oktoberfest. It sounds massive. Hetfield throws in a neat flourish here and there to keep things interesting.
The song itself seems to be about the grim realities of drug abuse, delivered in a vocal style reminiscent of The Four Horsemen from 1983’s Kill ‘Em All. By the time they get to chorus, they kick the tempo up several notches. It feels that Hardwired… To Self-Destruct could be their fastest, most aggressive album in years. It’s not as raw as something like the wayward bile of 1988’s Dyers Eve, it’s more measured. It’s like one well-aimed punch in the sternum rather than a flurry of punches around the neck and face. At six minutes long, Moth Into Flame peaks and troughs in all the right places. In the past, they’ve sometimes been guilty of labouring a good idea into the ground. Here, they seem to be conscious of that and avoid hanging around on one riff too long – and check out Ulrich’s flamboyant fill at four minutes 35 seconds.
Like we said, there’s 53 days to go until the new album is released. This is going to be an agonising wait.
Metallica’s album Hardwired… To Self-Destruct will be released on November 18 through Blackened Recordings.