Review of Metallica's Newest Album: Hardwired...To Self Destruct.
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Review of Metallica's Newest Album: Hardwired...To Self Destruct.

The perfect album for a turbulent year around the world.

Review of Metallica's Newest Album: Hardwired...To Self Destruct.

Metallica. One of the biggest, if not THE, biggest band in the world. They've been through everything.

Alcoholism, to the point where the business called them Alcoholica? Check.

Albums that sold in the millions, but threatened marriages and the band members' friendships? Check.

Members lost to either death, departures citing personal differences or being forced to leave? Check that, too.

One of the many bands that formed in the mid 80s in America, Metallica along with contemporaries Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax became a card carrying member of a musical club in heavy metal called The Big 4 Of Thrash. They have been active since the early 80s, and are still going strong. In fact, all of these bands released albums in 2016.

Metallica: the beefiest, most relatable stuff. Stadium sized choruses and riffs.

Megadeth: the thinking musician's metal band. Apocalyptic virtuosity in the guitar work, found in every album they've made.

Slayer: the music you listen to when you go to hell.

Anthrax: music to have a prison riot to. Or a schoolyard fight.

While the other three bands have all released albums consistently, Hardwired To Self Destruct comes after a eight year gap from Metallica's last album, Death Magnetic.

Indeed, the title could not have been more appropriate, given what a brutal year this has been so far. The album released on the 18th of November, and has sold 300,00 physical copies at the time of writing. In this age where iTunes pre-orders, YouTube videos and digital downloads are the norm for how people now purchase music, for a metal band to sell so many copies is nothing short of amazing. Granted, they are what metalheads like to call a 'legacy band' in that there is a high nostalgia factor in their live acts and albums - people generally wait for new releases hoping that they will either come close, or probably even surpass the glory days of what they knew the band to sound like.

While the album art begs for considerable improvement, maybe they were hard strapped for an album artist at the time of production, or something. You know, because hardwired to... never mind.

It is a double album. It has two discs, six songs per album.

The first disc is stellar from start to finish. It starts off with the title track Hardwired, which is the shortest song on the album, just under three minutes. Fast and brutally functional musicianship over thundering drums and yelled lyrics, the song is classic Metallica, although the chorus's inclusion of the F bomb is a bit uncharacteristic of their work.

After a few hiccups on the second track - Atlas, Rise! - which seems a bit too disconnected in certain parts, the remaining four tracks - Now That We're Dead, Moth Into Flame, Dream No More and Halo On Fire are all instant classics of Metallica's catalog, including blistering guitar solos, Hetfield's iconic voice still pushing power and a sense of driving energy all these years later.

The second disc is even more confused than the first - ironic since the first track is called Confusion - and while the song is written about soldiers having returned home and suffering PTSD, it fails to pass muster. The second song, the oh-so-cleverly titled ManUNkind, explores many time signatures and tempo changes, and Here Comes Revenge has a bit of gloomy noodling on the Floyd Rose tremolo system by Kirk Hammett sprinkled throughout to really create an eerie leading hook. Am I Savage? is probably the best song on the second disc, by virtue of how easy it is to remember - it is the song you search for on the second disc, skipping all the others and hitting repeat when you finally find it. Murder One is a tribute to Lemmy from Motorhead - it is named after what his bass amp was called. It sounds nothing like a Motorhead song, but instead name drops some of Motorhead's most famous song titles. The album closes out with Spit Out The Bone. The lyrics could be describing Skynet from the Terminator franchise, and it is almost 8 minutes of James Hetfield's carpal tunnel guitar playing - the song almost sounds like it belongs in the first or second Metallica album, in the mid 80s.

A coherent and well put together first disc - a bit of a mess in the second. Did Metallica somehow prophesize how we thought 2016 was going to turn out, versus how it actually did?? Knowing metal bands, I wouldn't be surprised.

Regardless, it is a great album. If you've got a friend who's into this stuff, ask them to "lend me your ears", or at least their copy of the record.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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