Metallica Review: ‘Hardwired…to Self-Destruct’ Brings Band Full Circle

2016-11-17

Review by Anne Erickson

Review: Metallica are uncompromising, near-apocalyptic on ‘Hardwired…to Self-Destruct’

Metallica waited a mighty eight years to follow up their 2008 studio album, “Death Magnetic,” but the timing and result couldn’t be better. The new release, “Hardwired…to Self-Destruct,” sees the metal men brutal, uncompromising, heavy and near-apocalyptic. It’s a nod to earlier Metallica, as they proudly wear their thrash-y roots on their sleeves, but also brings the band into 2016, with clear production and a modern edge.

Deafening drums, razor-sharp riffs, powering rhythms and guttural vocals make up the two-disc set, and themes take listeners through the abyss of the destruction of mankind. It’s the kind of relevance that begs the question, “Were the guys of Metallica inspired by the 2016 presidential election?”

Before “Hardwired” dropped, there was lots of talk about the album possibly sounding like “Kill ‘Em All.” In reality, I think the new tunes sound more like a towering blend of the thrash of “Death Magnetic” and “Reload,” plus melody, and that’s a good thing. It’s especially worth pointing out that these new tunes are darn catchy—perhaps the most unforgettable Metallica songs in decades.

If there’s one song that represents the full album, that would be “Atlas, Rise!” with its head-bopping riffing, lightning-fast guitar soloing and crunchy vocals.

Other stand-outs include “Moth into Flame,” which mixes in several heavy music styles, and “Spit Out the Bone,” the latter which is the last song on the set and simply doesn’t let down, with relentless energy and vigor.

When a band with as much history as Metallica releases a new album, it can be a double-edged sword. There’s happiness for new tunes but also skepticism that the fresh material can live up to the music that made the band such a favorite. On “Hardwired…to Self-Destruct,” Metallica deliver a set that deserves a respected slot in the band’s celebrated discography.

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