Release Date: Nov 18, 2016
Record label: Rhino
Genre(s): Heavy Metal, Hard Rock
It seems as if Metallica are in a strange place at the moment. Look at that cover. Look at it. It’s awful, isn’t it? What are they trying to say with that picture? There’s no way any normal human being would look at that artwork and say “that’s amazing, I want it on my album”. The whole ….
It’s testament to the enduring appeal of Metallica’s early work that in recent years their live setlists have included almost nothing recorded after 1991’s Black Album. To that end, their 10th album is an attempt (and a more successful one than 2008’s patchy Death Magnetic) to replicate the glories of their first three. The back-to-basics approach serves them well.
When your first decade of music not only sells by the tens of millions but permanently leaves an indelible impact on an entire genre of music, it is expected that the rest of your work will forever be judged against that early output. It’s not fair, but that’s what every major artist has to deal with and especially in heavy metal. Every major sea change the metal genre has experienced was instigated by young, brash phenoms—Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Slayer, Death, Napalm Death, and Emperor to name but a few—and consequently metal fans latch on to a band’s early work and cling to it for dear life, no matter how long a band will keep going.
Metallica began their long journey back home some time after nearly imploding during the recording of 2003's St. Anger. Hardwired...To Self-Destruct arrives 13 years after that album but it, almost more than its 2008 predecessor Death Magnetic, feels like a repudiation of the band's '90s, the years when Metallica shined up, slowed down, and got a lot weirder.
Metallica have just made their finest record in 25 years. Hardwired … to Self Destruct is by no means perfect: at 88 minutes it’s far too long and sags dreadfully during its second half, but when it’s good, it’s almost startling in its efficacy. Five out of six tracks on the first disc are as good as anything the thrash legends have released since their colossal self-titled album in 1991: in particular, Atlas, Rise!, Moth Into Flame and the snappy, brutish title track are revelatory.
It's been eight years since Metallica's last studio album. But that's small change next to their long haul to this two-disc resurrection: via the jagged apocalypse of 1988's ...And Justice for All and the focused brawn of 1991's Metallica. The mostly epic-length tracks – almost entirely written by drummer Lars Ulrich and singer-guitarist James Hetfield – are melodically assured furies of serial riffing and tempo shocks.
When Metallica released the Black Album back in 1991 they were already considered by some (many?) to be well past their prime. Then came Load. And Reload. St. Anger. Death Magnetic. By many accounts Metallica has been living on borrowed time for the past 25 years. Now we have another ’tallica ….
Review Summary: Metallica stop trying to please everyone else, and release an album that embodies where they're at in their lives.Kill ‘Em All is a pure album. It wasn’t guided by fame, label executives, money, fans or anything outside of four guys’ desire to create and play music. Every album since then has had some sort of external baggage attached to it.
Metallica are back with their 10th album. When you’ve conquered the world, released a string of genre-defining classics and endured a very public meltdown, where do you go next? Back in 2008 Metallica answered that question with ‘Death Magnetic’, an epic and bewilderingly complex return to their thrash metal roots. Now, eight years on, the Bay Area legends have less to prove – and it shows on ‘Hardwired… To Self-Destruct’.
The past twenty five years haven’t exactly been kind to Metallica. Ever since their mainstream-rock apotheosis on 1991’s Metallica, they’ve faced a quarter-century losing streak: the bloated hard rock of Load, Reload, and Garage Inc., the snoozy live album-cum-orchestral-experiment S&M, the migraine-inducing ineptitude of St. Anger, and the recycled rage of Death Magnetic.
Eight years ago I reviewed Metallica’s last album, Death Magnetic in RC, giving it three stars and suggesting more disciplined self-editing was needed. The same still applies now – do they not read Record Collector…? Hardwired… To Self- Destruct is guaranteed to sell millions whatever the reviews, but let’s be positive and give a thumbs-up to the good songs, in particular Spit Out The Bone, a ferocious bit of thrash metal designed no doubt to keep long-standing fans happy. Hardwired is a slightly less gripping version of the same, as is Moth Into Flame.
After 2003's St. Anger, the bar was set fairly low for Metallica to write and record a full-length that would top it, and they handily succeeded in doing so with 2008's Death Magnetic. The latter record showed the thrash vets still had something left in the tank, and Hardwired…To Self-Destruct largely follows suit, even after the lengthy eight-year wait between releases.Yet, they would have been wiser to trim more of the fat from the 12-track, two disc affair.
First album in eight years from the four hoarse men of the stadium-metal apocalypse How do you cling on to your throne as the world’s biggest hard rock band for more than 25 years? Metallica have had a few wobbles over the decades: legal battles with fans, a few duff albums, bust-ups and fall-outs and ill-advised public therapy sessions. Their harshest critics would argue that in the process they have diluted thrash metal into safe family entertainment, mainstream enough to headline Glastonbury or pack cinemas with glossy IMAX concert films. And yet, even in 2016 a new Metallica album is still a cultural event in a way few other rock releases are.
Strange times for Metallica. Right now, there’s a fiery renaissance of burgeoning, fearless, and genre-bending bands currently defining popular metal, all of which begs the question: How can the genre’s most internationally renowned band stay relevant? In an interview with Rolling Stone earlier this year, drummer Lars Ulrich all but promised his outfit’s immortality. “I think mentally we could do this for another 100 years,” he proudly declared, adding: “I hope we go on making records until the day we fall over.
It is hard to get excited about the idea of a new Metallica album nowadays, and I write those words as someone who grew up with Ride the Lightning, Master of Puppets and … And Justice for All on near constant repeat for at least a couple of years. Death Magnetic was just so ordinary, and Lulu so head-scratchingly abysmal (to the point that I’m still not entirely sure it wasn’t just a tremendous prank) that I may not even have listened to Hardwired… had I not been assigned the task of reviewing it. Actually though, despite my scepticism, if you can ignore the truly appalling cover art (no mean feat), Hardwired… gets off to a pretty solid start.
For 20 years, Metallica fans have had to choose between befuddled disappointment and stern rationalisation, with Load, ReLoad, the Napster wars, “I Disappear”, St. Anger, “The Unforgiven III” and Lulu all being as polarising as they were frustating. Everything they've done since becoming the biggest thing in metal with their 1991 self-titled behemoth of an album has seen the band drift further and further away from The Mighty Metallica of the 80s.
A year after the release of 2008’s Death Magnetic, Metallica were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The two things weren’t necessarily connected: Death Magnetic had its moments, but mostly got by on grade inflation. Even then, the album was enthusiastically touted as a “return to form” because it wasn’t as terrible as 2003’s St.
"Hardwired ... to Self-Destruct" is Metallica's first album since 2008's “Death Magnetic.” With "Hardwired … to Self-Destruct" (Blackened), Metallica issues its once-a-decade reminder that it's time to hit the stadium-rock circuit and make millions on tour. It's more an act of commerce than an artistic imperative. That doesn't mean Metallica has gone belly up.
When a band releases a record that’s poorly received, it’s common for them to see it as a reason to revert. Those return-to-form albums may revisit the sound of a bygone era, but rarely, if ever, do they capture the spirit so crucial to their creation. That was the case for Metallica’s 2008 album, Death Magnetic. As a response to 2003’s endlessly lambasted St.
When I first heard Death Magnetic in 2008, I didn’t know that it was Metallica. As Ride the Lightning-worshipping riffs and drum beats—all captured with a mock-80s production style—spilled from a radio at work, I thought, “Damn, this band is really ripping off Metallica.” And then I realised that it was Metallica ripping off Metallica. Ever since The Black Album came out, there’s been a sizeable chunk of Metallica’s fan base that has wanted the band to return to its thrash roots—to recapture the fight-or-flight intensity from the first four albums.