Lars Ulrich says Metallica expected 10th album Hardwired… To Self Destruct to pick up where Death Magnetic left off – but that began to change after they performed debut album Kill ‘Em All live in full.
And the drummer admits that the 2013 performance was the first time he’d understood the real value of their 1983 record.
Hardwired… To Self Destruct was announced on Thursday, when Metallica debuted lead track Hardwired. The double-album is to be released on November 18.
Ulrich tells Rolling Stone: “Originally we wanted to continue where we left off. Since Death Magnetic we’ve been on a roll. We did the Lou Reed stuff, a Ronnie Dio - Rainbow medley, a Deep Purple cover, and the movie took two years.
“It wasn’t until further into the process that we took stock of what we were doing and asked what we were trying to say with the album. That’s when things came into shape and become more coherent.”
While they “didn’t work with a mission statement,” Ulrich points to their performance of Kill ‘Em All at their Orion festival as a key moment in choosing direction.
“That was the first time I really got into that record,” he says. “Early on I was dismissive, because Ride The Lightning and Master Of Puppets may be a little more intellectually stimulating and challenging. They were deeper records.
“When we played it I realised Kill ‘Em All had a cohesiveness. It had its own thing with the speed, but it’s simpler. The songs are longer but not quite as progressive. It’s a world all its own.
“There are some elements of that that rubbed off into this. I’d say there’s a trace of residue from rediscovering Kill ‘Em All that crept in.”
Ulrich previously described the material on Hardwired… To Self Destruct as “less frenetic” than Death Magnetic. He explains: “Most of the songs are simpler. We introduce a mood and stick to it – rather than songs we’ve done where a riff happens and we go over here, then over there, through all these different soundscapes.
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“The songs are more linear. There are certainly less starts and stops. It cruises along a little bit more than the last record.”
Metallica’s concert in Minneapolis tonight (August 20) will be streamed live across the world – but the band aren’t sure whether they’ll debut any fresh material.
Ulrich reports: “The chances of playing a song from the new album have increased since we shared a new song with the world. But one thing we realised when we were making the album is that we put a lot of time and effort into making these songs good.
“Given a choice we’d rather people hear the recorded version than a live version on some shitty phone recording from 900 rows back. So read into that what you will.”
The Minneapolis concert will be broadcast by Pandora in the US, Australia and New Zealand, and also via Metallica’s website.