Metallica are poised to release the biggest metal album of the year with Hardwired… To Self-Destruct later this month, but will it be worth the eight year wait? We can tell you it’s better than St Anger and (depending who you ask in the office) it’s better than Death Magnetic, but what is going on within its 12 songs and 80-minute runtime? Here’s our track by track guide.
There’s no long, drawn out opener here, we’re diving headfirst into the 80-minute metallic onslaught with more than a subtle nod to Metallica’s thrashtastic past. Sod all that Lords Of Summer nonsense, this is the punky, unbridled aggression we want to hear. And it’s so good to hear James Hetfield angry again. Great stuff.
Taking obvious influence from the horizon-wide instrumentation of Iron Maiden, it’s a serious fists-in-the-air anthem. Backed up by a thrash aesthetic, Lars Ulrich is putting a beast of a shift in, banging and slamming and pounding along to the stomping groove laid out by Papa Het. Kirk’s solo is a ripper, too!
Now That We’re Dead
Starting with what sounds like the intro to Shawn Michaels’ entrance theme, it transforms into a pounding, overdriven slab of stadium-shaped heavy metal but still with one eye on the garage days. It’s crunchy and hard-hitting, with Lars really showing off the size of his kit, but it sounds BIG and could easily slot into any live ‘Tallica set.
Moth Into Flame
It’s the biggie, and the song that really let the Metallica famileeh know the boys were back in town. Rolling drums, big bastard riffs and serious pace, it’s exactly what 2016 Metallica should be. But despite the chunky riffs throughout the album it’s interesting to note that Kirk’s name doesn’t appear once in the writing credits, which we discuss with the man himself in the latest issue of Metal Hammer.
Dream No More
Opening with a blatant homage (or even ripoff) of Sad But True, the dirgey, sleazy track is dripping in whiskey like it’s spent all day rolling up and down the Sunset Strip. It stomps around like Godzilla just stubbed his toe and packs some serious chug, but like the majority of the album, Kirk’s solo is a bit samey – and the eventual crescendo doesn’t really go anywhere. Although, it does get bonus points for the constant referencing of Cthulhu.
Halo On Fire
Much slower, and conjuring images of a candlelit vigil, it’s still very much Metallica with Hetfield’s croon acting as a palate cleanser after the five-tracks of mayhem. However, it does end up getting a little muddled, with the muted verses not quite interlocking with the various kitchen sinks thrown into the mix.
Moving onto the second disc, it’s not quite the gigantic statement of intent that Hardwired was. With militaristic marching drums, it’s a much slower affair than what we’ve heard previously and eases us into the more ‘progressive’ portion of the album. Kirk whacks in two solos to really get his money’s worth, but this really could be much tighter and shorter.
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Okay, it might not be the most inspiring song title, but that doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that it’s the one song Rob Trujillo co-wrote, and you can tell in its much looser approach to Metallica’s grand metal offerings. With its revving riffs and obvious political overtones, it’s metal with a message, but sadly it begins to lose focus and the edge is gradually softened.
Here Comes Revenge
Packing the heavyweight chug of Enter Sandman, the menacing groove intertwines with playful guitars to deliver a solid punch to the gut. And why hasn’t Lars played this well for years?! The only drawback is supergluing another basic solo onto the side in the hope of keeping purist fans happy. Not every song needs a solo, we just need Metallica to be Metallica, and at the minute, Metallica are about 90 seconds too long.
Am I Savage?
No, not Am I Evil?, but Am I Savage?. The guitar-driven intro is absolute grimace-inducing groove, making you pull that face. You know the one. But that’s where the enjoyment stops. As the fourth track on the noticeably longer disc, it’s all become a bit formulaic as the band sound reluctant to change what works. C’mon guys, dig a little deeper!
An intro akin to Sanitarium, followed by the inevitable BIG DRUMS, this is the ode to Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister, with aces and iron horses being referenced throughout. Forming a solid chunk of the meatier side of the album, we thought that the longer runtime would give Metallica room to experiment and fuck with the system, but it’s all very ABC now. When bands like Avenged Sevenfold are tearing up the template with The Stage, how come their grandaddies can’t push the same boundaries?
Spit Out The Bone
NOW THIS IS MORE LIKE IT! Where has this Metallica been hiding for the past half hour? Turbocharged, full of piss and vinegar, it’s a circle-pit inducing thrash masterclass from the godfathers of the Bay Area. Sounding perfectly at home on Kill ‘Em All, the relentless energy and gusto is almost palpable. With Ulrich on a mission to put a hole in his snare drum and Hetfield snarling like a lion in a patch jacket – especially with his pronunciation of ‘bone’ being more like BOWWNN. If Metallica play this song live then we will not be held responsible for our actions, it’s just balls-out savage metal and we love it.
Metallica’s new album Hardwired… To Self-Destruct is out November 18.
In the new issue of Metal Hammer we spent 48 hours with the band in New York City to really dig beneath the surface of the new album and into the minds of the four men behind it. It’s the only Metallica interview you ever need to read and is IN STORES NOW. Or you can order your copy online.