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Album Review: Metallica ‘Hardwired… to Self-Destruct’


Metallica. That single word conjures up so much imagery and meaning on its utterance. Lauded by many as one of the greatest metal bands in history as well as arguably being one of the biggest bands in history, Metallica have quite a long list of achievements to their name. Part of the iconic ‘Big 4’ thrash metal bands, thrash metal pioneers in their heyday, as well as having four near-perfect albums to their name that still are relevant today, Metallica have a lot going for them.

However despite so much success, the past few years have not been kind to Metallica. For many their more recent albums are seen as their weakest releases, as there’s almost universal hatred towards their ‘St. Anger’ album and their ‘Lulu’ album with Lou Reed was seemingly ignored by the world. Metallica have struggled as a group to retain the ferocity and songwriting that cemented their position as one of the premier bands on the planet.

So, it was with great expectation and trepidation that fans awaited the release of their latest album, ‘Hardwired… to Self-Destruct’. Would this album be a step in the direction of their glory days like their previous effort ‘Death Magnetic’? Or would it be another forgettable addition to an increasingly divisive catalogue? We sat down to give one of the most anticipated albums of the year a listen, and this is what we thought.

Before we get into the fun parts of the album, we’re going to talk about what wasn’t so good. Like dinner, you’ve got to have your vegetables first. The first and most obvious drawback to this album is its length. Clocking in at about 80 minutes ‘Hardwired… to Self-Destruct’ is a monster to listen through, with a good many of the songs being six minutes in length or more. While long songs aren’t necessarily a bad thing, the sheer number of them on ‘Hardwired…’ makes listening to this album somewhat daunting.

What also lets some of these longer tracks down is the fact that they struggle to hold your interest for their entirety. A prime example of this is ManUNkind. While featuring some really interesting individual parts, the song struggles to flow, making it feel a bit of a drag.

‘Hardwired…’ is a throwback to the band’s glory days, while introducing some newer elements that, rather than ruin Metallica’s sound, add to it and bring new and interesting angles to light.

Apart from these minor gripes, the remainder of ‘Hardwired…’ is a solid effort from the Bay Area metal titans. While not as frantic nor heavy as their earlier discography, ‘Hardwired…’ sees a Metallica who are comfortable with who they are musically, writing music for themselves.  Stylistically falling somewhere between the thrashier style found on ‘Ride The Lightning’ and the more rock-oriented metal from their self-titled album, ‘Hardwired…’ sees a band who’ve finally settled into a sound that’s truly their own.

While still keeping some interesting solos and technical guitar work, ‘Hardwired…’ sees a bit more melody, even and borderline pop catchiness, creep in, most evident in Atlas, Rise! With its insanely catchy chorus and refrains, coupled with the thrashier guitar work and solos, Atlas Rise! is a fantastic example of the contemporary Metallica sound.

Overall ‘Hardwired…’ is a throwback to the band’s glory days, while introducing some newer elements that, rather than ruin Metallica’s sound, add to it and bring new and interesting angles to light. While not as ground-breaking as their earlier work, Metallica have served up an offering of meat and potatoes thrash that metal fans should find filling and satisfactory. For a band who’ve been around for so long, ‘Hardwired…’ feels like one of the rare occasions in their more recent discography where Metallica have truly felt themselves. This album is definitely worth a listen!

Album Rating: 3