Album Review: Metallica – Hardwired…to Self-Destruct

By on Monday, 19th December 2016 at 12:00 pm

Metallica Hardwired to Self-Destruct album coverOver the past 20 years or so, the announcement of a new
Metallica album hasn’t been much cause for celebration. Obviously, it’s great that the original behemoths of metal are still not only creating but experimenting. ‘Lulu’, anyone? But they’ve never really hit the same levels of influence that they did with their output in the ‘80s and ‘90s. With ‘Hardwired…to Self Destruct’ they’ve actually managed to recapture some of that earlier success and bring out an album that isn’t actually terrible. Running just under an hour and 20 minutes over two discs, ‘Hardwired…’ feels like Metallica are back in the game and want to make one hell of a statement.

Bar opener ‘Hardwired’, every track on the album runs well over five minutes which means there’s plenty of room for tracks to make an impression. iI’s just a ferocious LP, with palm-muted guitars and demonic sounding riffs, exactly what one wants from a Metallica album. As the album progresses, the intensity of delivery seemingly increases, proving that there’s life in the old dog yet, so to speak. It’s easier to break the album down into its two Volumes, as they both serve their own purpose:

Volume 1

‘Hardwired’, the shortest track on the record, is also the opener. It wastes no time in bursting through your speakers and completely grabbing you to go on this full throttle journey. Frontman James Hetfield has lost none of the anger that fuelled Metallica for so long, though presumably being in one of the most successful metal bands of all time it’s hard to really be *that* angry. Lyrically, the song stands as a testament to 2016: “we’re so fucked, shit out of luck, hardwired to self destruct”. If any truer words of this year have been laid to musical output, please drop us a line on Twitter.

‘Atlas, Rise!’ is the first of the big guns to hit us. Hitting with the immediacy of its predecessor, it takes its time in building to the velocity that Metallica operate at, using more melodic riffs to really power home Hetfield’s raging call of “Atlas, rise!” This method of rallying is used predominantly throughout the entire record, and pretty much the entire Metallica discography, so it’s not exactly new, but they do it bloody well.


The centrepiece of disc 1 comes in the form of the final track, ‘Halo On Fire’ At over 8 minutes, it takes you on one hell of a ride. Starting with the standard ferociousness, it then falls into a more dream-like state, a la ‘Enter Sandman’, until it roars back into life. Rinse and repeat this over the course of 3 minutes or so. Then it moves into a second act, though nothing too extreme, as it’s the third act where things pick up. You’re rewarded for the perseverance throughout the beginning of the track with extremely melodic solos, a basic 4/4 beat and absolute power. A perfect closer for the first disc.

Volume 2

Opening the second half, ‘Confusion’ pretty much carries on with the groundwork laid in the prior half. The cleverly titled ‘ManUNkind’ is where a little variation comes into play, starting off with gentle bass and guitar playing wrapping around each other, before the obvious onslaught of noise and power. It does so with a little less melodrama that all of its predecessors, which is soon rectified by ‘Here Comes Revenge’, itself a searing and thunderous track.

Returning to a demonic state is ‘Am I Savage?’, which is rife with religious statement and straight up savageness, which answers the song title question that yes, yes they are. Volume 2 houses the tracks with brief lighter approaches, which only accentuates the barrage once it hits, as shown again in ‘Murder One’. Leaving it once again to the finale of the volume to bring the strongest attack, ‘Spit Out the Bone’ easily has the band at their best, with Hetfield’s snarl being particularly aggressive during the lines “long live machine / the future supreme / man overthrown / spit out the bone”.


As a whole, ‘Hardwired…’ does what it’s main job ultimately was, and that’s resurrect the faith that Metallica still have the ability to create savagery and power that is timeless. They sound just as they did 20 to 30 years ago finally, and it just goes to prove why they’re the top dogs in the world of metal.


Metallica’s tenth and latest studio album ‘Hardwired…to Self Destruct’ is available now from Virgin EMI. For more on Metallica on TGTF, go here.

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