Hardwired... To Self-Destruct

Metallica

Blackened, 2016

http://www.metallica.com

REVIEW BY: Paul Hanson

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 11/29/2016

No matter what I say, no matter how clear my reasoning, I know I can't win – before the end of this review, I will alienate a Metallica fan simply because I have an opinion about the new release Hardwired…To Self-Destruct. Somewhere, some Metallica fan is thinking that I know nothing about Metallica.

I know the opening title track is possibly the worst song Metallica has ever recorded. The lyrics are dismal ("We're so fucked / Shit out of luck"). The guitar solo is short and not memorable. That said, it is a short blast and it does have the energy ramped up. When it was released as the first single, my first impression was to put it as the final track. It sounded a lot like the last tune on some of their albums ("Damage Inc." on Master Of Puppets, "Dyers Eve" on Justice, and even "My Apocalypse" on Death Magnetic) because of its length and intensity.

A better opening track, though, would easily have been "Atlas, Rise!," though I hate songs with punctuation in the title. It is my favorite track. The lyrics are about the Greek myth of Atlas, who had to support the world upon his shoulders. I wonder if deep in the crevices of each member's mind, that's how they felt as they went to compose new tunes – that the weight of their fans had been placed on their shoulders to write "awesomeness." The next track, "Now That We're Dead," is a mid-tempo stomp. You may hear references to "Sad But True" and other previous songs when you dig deep into its structure and overall feel. "Moth Into Flame" comes next with a vibe that is similar to "Atlas, Rise!" in that the song is set up with a thrashy guitar riff. "Dream No More" follows and makes reference to the mythical beast they wrote about on my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Ride The Lightening: Ktulu. "Halo On Fire" comes next and at a runtime of 8:15, it is the longest track here. I hear influences of "The Day That Never Comes" and "Fade To Black" when I listen to it.

"Confusion" kicks off the second CD with a syncopated tribute to Diamond Head's "Am I Evil," a frequent tune in the band's setlist. After not quite a minute, the song shifts to a mid-tempo affair, which is also found in the next track "ManUNkind." Of the two, I found "ManUNkind" to be more interesting from a musical aspect. I think they are playing in multiple time signatures, like much of the material on And Justice For All did so that made me happy. Commendable also is the shift in vibe at the 3:50ish mark. Though as of this writing, it hasn't played live yet, I truly hope "Here Comes Revenge" makes it onto the band's setlist; it could easily fit in somewhere. "Am I Savage?" has its merits and sounds like it is shifting time signatures as well.

As for "Murder One," I understand that the recent passing of Lemmy (do I really need to mention what band he played bass in?) impacted the members of Metallica greatly. I also understand why James Hetfield was compelled to write about one of their biggest influences and personal friend. With that in mind, I accept the inclusion of this tune on this release. I don't particularly think it is a good song, but I think the grieving the band has done in recent months gives them a pass. The next and final track "Spit Out The Bone" shatters my earlier impression about the title track being better as a closing track. It is a fitting closing tune that is in the same ballpark as the other album closers I mentioned earlier.

The deluxe edition of this release includes a third CD. The original plan was to release the "riff origins" of the other 12 songs. I was personally excited about the deluxe edition when I heard that. Then, one day, Metallica announced that their contributions to various tribute albums (Dio, Deep Purple, Iron Maiden), their Record Day performance, the 2014 single "Lords Of Summer" and the debut live performance of "Hardwired" from Minneapolis in summer 2016 would be on the third CD instead of the previously announced "riff origins." Because I have never heard those "riff origins," I can't say whether it was the right or wrong decision. I will say that in this day and age of YouTube, Metallica fans have heard all of the material on this third CD.

The pressure placed upon Metallica fans is immense. I'm uncertain how many of these tunes will make it onto the band's upcoming world tour, since adding one of these 12 songs would mean not playing other setlist staples. I don't envision Metallica adding another hour to their setlist so they can play "Enter Sandman" as well as "Atlas, Rise!" as well as "Master Of Puppets" as well as "Moth Into Flame." However, any of these tunes would be complimentary additions, even "Murder One."

Rating: B+

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