And drummer Lars Ulrich has recalled how it was inspired when he was presented with a photo at his own wedding.
He married Jessica Miller in 2015 and invited creatives Herring & Herring to shoot the event – and during the festivities he came up with the idea that would later become the main image for the band’s 10th record.
“For a wedding present they gave us this crazy picture of the two of us superimposed on top of each other. It was this awesome thing.
“I showed it to James at the wedding and said, ‘One day, when we do something in the future we should get these guys to do all of us on top of each other.
“They came out and shot all of us doing that crazy superimposed stuff. The images were so cool that they became the whole package – this whole campaign, for lack of a better word.”
He adds: “We didn’t know it was going to be that cool. But those images are really different from anything we’d done before. It feels really cool.”
Bassist Robert Trujillo says: “When we were in Central America there were these big massive posters of that image. James goes, ‘Look, it’s your face.’ I go, ‘No, that’s not my face.’ ‘Well, that’s your eyebrow – wait a minute, that’s Kirk’s nose. That’s your tooth.’”
Guitarist Kirk Hammett comments: “I know that’s my tongue. That’s all I know for sure is me.”
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Asked by Taylor whether they’d change anything about Metallica’s 35-year-history with all its ups and downs, all four members say no.
Frontman James Hetfield reflects: “Things happen for a reason. I’m not proud of everything, for sure, but I’m proud that we’ve survived. There’s always some kind of silver lining – something good comes out of something bad.”
Ulrich says: “I wouldn’t rewrite any of it. Over the 35 years we can pretty much hold our heads up high. We’ve always done whatever felt right. Sometimes later you’ll sit down and go, ‘What were we thinking?’
“But I always come back to, ‘I know at that time it felt like the right thing to do.’”
Hammett says: “I just realised recently that I was pretty much meant to play with these guys. I can’t imagine, and I have thought about it, being in a better musical situation than I am now.
“I wouldn’t change any of the blood, any of the sweat, any of the tears we’ve been through, because it’s brought us to this point now. We’re all better people for it. I’m looking forward to the future.”
Meanwhile, BBC Radio 1 have released two clips from their Metallica live session – watch the band performing Hardwired and Atlas, Rise! below. The full performance is available to some parts of the world via the BBC iPlayer.
Hardwired… To Self-Destruct was released on November 18. Metallica are in the process of revealing their WorldWired tour dates, set to expand across 2017 and beyond. They’re the cover stars of the current edition of Metal Hammer, on sale now in print and via TeamRock+.
Metallica tour dates 2016-17 so far
Dec 17: Oakland Fox Theater, CA
Jan 11: Seoul Gocheok Sky Dome, South Korea
Jan 18: Beijing Le Sports Centre, China
Jan 20: Hong Kong AsiaWorld-Expo, China
Jan 22: Singapore Indoor Stadium, Singapore
Feb 03: Copenhagen Royal Arena, Denmark
Feb 05: Copenhagen Royal Arena, Denmark
Feb 07: Copenhagen Royal Arena, Denmark
Feb 09: Copenhagen Royal Arena, Denmark
Mar 25-26: Sao Paulo Interlagos Racetrack, Brazil
Mar 31-Apr 01: Buenos Aires Hippodrome San Isidro, Argentina
Apr 01-02: Santiago Parque O’Higgins, Chile