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Articles Home » 2016 Articles » Metallica - 2016 Hardwired.. To Self Destruct
Metallica - 2016 Hardwired.. To Self Destruct

ARTIST: Metallica
ALBUM: Hardwired.. To Self Destruct
LABEL: Blackened
YEAR: 2016


LINEUP: James Hetfield - vocals, guitar * Kirk Hammett - guitar * Robert Trujillo - bass * Lars Ulrich - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Hardwired * 02 Atlas, Rise! * 03 Now That We're Dead * 04 Moth Into Flame * 05 Dream No More * 06 Halo On Fire * 07 Confusion * 08 ManUNkind * 09 Here Comes Revenge * 10 Am I Savage? * 11 Murder One * 12 Spit Out The Bone



Given the mammoth eight year gap between 'Death Magnetic' and 'Hardwired.. To Self-Destruct', it's hard to accuse Metallica of being idle during the break between albums. Endless touring, their own festival, the 'Lulu' collaboration with Lou Reed and a forgettable concert film 'Through The Never' were some of the distractions, seemingly a smokescreen to avoid recording a new studio album. Therefore the announcement of the album several months ago came as somewhat of a surprise, with the accompanying three singles providing an encouraging glimpse into the albums direction. With the final product now a reality, the metal world will pore over it in excruciating fashion as always, the aging band still at the forefront of the scene, which shows a definite lack of progression in the genre. As is their trademark the album is lengthy, running at nearly 80 minutes, which somehow necessitated a double album release. The essential question is how it stacks up to the bands back catalogue and after repeated listens by myself, the sense of complete indifference to numerous underwhelming tracks is impossible to ignore. It's led me to ponder many questions, which I'll explore in a track-by-track analysis.

The Songs
'Hardwired' - The opening single was everything you want from Metallica, a slice of devastating thrash, simple and to the point, showing the intensity that made them legends still exists. At three minutes it's by far the shortest track- perhaps a token inclusion, but one that never lets up, the riffs shredding with an aggression one would hope mirrors the rest of the album.

'Atlas Rise' - This was the third single released prior to the album and displays a stripped down traditional metal structure, with obvious nods to vintage Iron Maiden in the guitar harmonies. It still has all the traces of vintage Metallica however, although like most of the songs on the album its six plus minute running time is unwarranted. There just isn't enough variety to justify it.

'Now That We're Dead' - The opening riff had me convinced this was a cover of Kiss' 'Lick It Up' for a few seconds. In a way I wish it was, because this sets the tone for the rest of the album, barely mid-paced metal with riffs that almost recall the 'Load' era, somewhere between metal and hard rock, with no in-between. It's seven minutes and honestly goes nowhere, lumbering around with scant melody. It's painfully labored, a real disappointment.

'Moth Into Flame' - The second single was warmly received by most, but I have my reservations. It has various thrash breakdowns, but some of the melody lines here are unappealing. They have grotesque modern rock leanings and leave me colder than anything from the 90's. It dilutes what could have been a memorable track. However in lieu of what follows this could be seen as a major classic.

'Dream No More' - This is where the album really starts coming off the rails. A plodding track which never gets out of first gear and has shades of the 'Black' album in parts, but without the vitality. The song again is over six minutes and never changes gear, stuck entirely in the same groove so to speak. Where's the heaviness? There's an identifiable chorus, but the song just fails to hold my attention.

'Confusion' - The opening riff has some early Black Sabbath overtones, but it takes almost two minutes to get going, the song melodically recalling the 'Re-Load' album, with heavier riffs. It never breaks out however and trying to sit through the song feels like a real task. I couldn't imagine anyone wanting to hear this live. Totally devoid of any life or inspiration.

'ManUNkind'- The acoustic intro gave me Iron Maiden flashbacks for a moment, but it didn't last five minutes like theirs do. However Metallica are just as guilty of long-winded tracks and this is another, bouncing along like an outtake from 'Load.' This is not metal in my opinion, just a stale hard rock track with a chorus that does resonate eventually, but not enough to come back for more. What's with the monotonous rhythms? They aren't varying from song to song, just meandering along in a haze of similar patterns and guitar solos.

'Here Comes Revenge' - With a title like this you'd expect something brutal perhaps, but instead it's more of the same. Seven minutes of filler which sounds like a jam they recorded on the spot. Even after multiple listens I can't separate it from the previous three tracks. There's no tangents, nothing essential to sink your teeth into.

'Am I Savage' - When I saw this title I expected something brutal, another false flag sadly. Moving at a snail's pace, it has melodic sections that could almost be Megadeth. It doesn't build up to anything, agonizing in its pace and length.

'Murder One' - Another promising title, another bore. The intro has an 80's 'Fade to Black' feel to it, before dissolving into another unmemorable workout, nothing redeeming whatsoever. More labored riffs and drumming highlight a song which has zero melody and imagination.

'Spit Out The Bone' - As if to thank the listener for their patience in enduring this album, the band throw in a thrash track which explodes during the opening 20 seconds in rampant fashion and manages to maintain it for the duration of its seven minutes. It has a vague '..And Justice For All' feel at odd moments. It's fast and what you want to hear from the band and there's an obvious nod to Lemmy with some of the bass rumblings. Overall though it feels too late in the album, with the horrendous preceding six songs ruining the flow of the album entirely.

In Summary
Simply put, this is the most boring album the band has ever recorded. I don't dislike it, but have no inspiration to hear the majority of it again, which is the most damning criticism I can level at it. Maybe there's a good reason it took the band eight years to come up with this. Perhaps the inspiration that once propelled them is all but dead, with the band all well into in their fifties now. I never would have suspected an album this dull though. It pales compared to 'Death Magnetic' and the unfairly maligned 'St Anger.' I wouldn't be at all sad if this was their last statement, because on the evidence provided Metallica are spent. Once upon a time it would have hurt me to say that, but perhaps like them, my interest has all but faded too.

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#1 | gdazegod on November 14 2016 23:46:30
In some of the Metal forums (fora) that I follow/visit, the same type of opinion can be found. Not quite blown away, but recognising that the album might take some time to chip away at. Not really my cup of tea though.. helpless
#2 | RobLynott on November 15 2016 13:31:53
A rare case where I pretty much disagree with a review in this forum!

I think the first half is very very good. This also includes 'Halo on fire' which was skipped for unknown reasons. Moth into flame is really awesome imo as is Atlas, Rise!.

The second half is quite patchy. While Confusion und Here comes revenge are decent tracks, Manunkind, Am I savage and Murder One are downright boring Load/Reload-style songs. Dunno why a Lemmy tribute song has to be that slow. helpless Album closer Spit out the bone however is absolutely fantastic imo.

My problem: The album is too long. If you cut away 3 or 4 tracks (the Load/Reload 'remakes') and make it circa 55 minutes long it's actually a great album. But even now it's still beats Load, Reload and St. Anger by a country mile!

My tracklist for a better listen would be:
01. Hardwired
02. Atlas, Rise!
03. Now That You're Dead
04. Moth Into Flame
05. Dream No More
06. Halo On Fire
07. Confusion
08. Here Comes Revenge
09. Spit out The Bone
#3 | dangerzone on November 15 2016 14:31:27
Glad you pointed out my 'Halo On Fire' omission. I had listened to it multiple times, but for some reason I totally forgot to add it to the running order of my review. It's slightly better than the tracks surrounding it, but far too long at 8 minutes and again is too restrained for my liking.
#4 | rkbluez on November 18 2016 21:58:54
Agree with Rob here for the most part it sounds like classic Metallica with the exception of a few songs that make the running time too long...if they edited this down and shortened the songs a little it would be a great album...but as Rob mentioned it's still way better than the Loads and St. Anger stuff...and should please Metallica fans who've been waiting for new tunes by the band.
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