Well, here we are. After eight long years since the release of previous album, ‘Death Magnetic’, thrash metal icons Metallica have ended 2016 by releasing their hugely anticipated tenth studio record, ‘Hardwired… To Self-Destruct’, and what a record it is.
‘Hardwired’ starts the album off in thunderous fashion. Oozing angst and fury while being delivered at a thrash-fuelled pace, this is a definite reminder of old school Metallica. The relatively basic lyrical delivery fails to lessen the potently delivered message from vocalist James Hetfield as the track hurtles through without a breath for rest.
One of the highlights of the record, ‘Moth Into Flame’, has a terrific introduction section with some ferociously heavy riffing. The pre-chorus hugely increases the track’s pace before a melodic guitar solo segues into an emotive chorus, showcasing Hetfield‘s vocals powerfully. For a 53-year-old man, it could be said that this is the most vibrant and captivating that Hetfield has sounded at any point over the last 25 years.
From the opening four or five tracks, you could be forgiven for thinking that Metallica have failed to self-edit effectively. It has been eight years after all. At two discs and at around 80 minutes long, it’s no surprise that the average running time per track is high and, at times, a couple of the tracks go on for just a little too long. ‘ManUNkind’ and ‘Murder One’ are prime examples of this, but despite the marathon-esque nature being the primary itch of the album, it’s more than made up for by the fact that it competently caters for every Metallica fan of every era.
Eight minute long ‘Halo On Fire’ definitely doesn’t suffer from its extended length, being quite the progressive epic. Dual melodic guitars return to ignite this track along with a shift in dynamic as gentle verses transform the soundscape by bulldozing into thundering choruses.
‘Confusion’ is reminiscent of the ‘Death Magnetic’ sound with stop-start guitar riffing, harmonic vocals, and multiple layers of head banging catchiness, while ‘Here Comes Revenge’ is sinister sounding, with heaps of spite and hard riffing in Hetfield‘s delivery. The rhythm interplay between drummer Lars Ulrich and bassist Rob Trujillo is intricate and theatrically atmospheric and is a strong element on show here.
Final track seven-minute plus ‘Spit Out The Bone’ is arguably the standout song on the whole record. With machine gun riffing and drumming throughout, this is another nod back to their pure thrash metal days. A superbly vitriolic vocal delivery from Hetfield is matched by Trujillo‘s hefty bass playing and complimented amongst several intricate guitar solos, altogether transporting the track to different levels without sacrificing any of the momentum and quality. You could say that this is one of the most hard-hitting and intense songs Metallica have created since the days of ‘Damage, Inc.’ and ‘One’.
Bookended by two slabs of furious thrash metal, the strength of which haven’t been seen in the band’s arsenal for quite some time, if you’re looking for a full-on thrash album then this will disappoint you. Metallica simply aren’t that band anymore. However, by fusing together elements of thrash, progression, and straight-up hard rock, the band have produced their strongest body of work since 1991’s self-titled magnum opus. While the haters may still hate, Metallica have returned in a serious amount of style with a true album of the year contender, and when was the last time you heard that?
Written by Neil Criddle (@DJCriddz)