Metallica – Hardwired…To Self-Destruct
Reviewed by Arno Callens
Metallica, you say?
Whether you like them or not, everyone has an opinion on these Bay Area thrashers. Some believe they haven’t released anything great since *insert any album between Kill ‘Em All and Reload*, and others will defend the most questionable of the Four Horsemen’s choices until the Apocalypse. At least we can all agree St. Anger sucked (right?).
I actually liked that one when it came out, but then again, I was fourteen and just getting into metal. As soon as I picked up a copy of The Black Album I sold St. Anger to some unwitting kid like my former self, and bought Master Of Puppets with the profits. Maybe St. Anger is a rite of passage for newbies to the genre, or maybe Metallica has been consistently dumping on their legacy since…again, take your pick. I myself am not overly familiar with Load and Reload, but I like the band’s more well known songs. As albums, I can’t judge them, but perhaps that lack of familiarity says it all. Metallica peaked early, and fell equally quickly off that pedestal.
Death Magnetic was then *kind of* a return to form, but an unmemorable one. And in all fairness, next to the formless St. Anger, anything was bound to sound better by comparison. Of course whatever promise Death Magnetic held was unequivocally ruined by Lulu, an album so misshapen it makes St. Anger seem like Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Even though it’s closer to a drunk violinist falling off a cliff.
Enter Hardwired…To Self-Destruct. When the first single “Hardwired” hit, I wasn’t particularly impressed with the uninspired self-tribute, but positively surprised at how straightforward it was. Metallica appeared to have quit the art school program and gone back to the dirty rehearsal room. “Moth Into Flame” was a much stronger sign that the band might be back for real, with its infectious grooves and classic chorus. By the time “Atlas, Rise!” came around, I was pretty much sold on this record, and sure enough they got my money.
Was it worth it? Yes, although I agree with pretty much every review, good and bad, out there that Hardwired outstays its welcome. However, a decent to great Metallica album is more than welcome, so I’m willing to cut the B-side of this unnecessary double disc some slack. The A-side is strong enough to carry the whole thing anyway, building on the aforementioned singles to other standouts such as the Lovecraftian love letter “Dream No More” and the quiet but deadly “Halo On Fire”. Post-halftime, only the suitably aggressive “Here Comes Revenge”, Lemmy-salute “Murder One”, and throwback thrash attack “Spit Out The Bone” manage to get the blood and fists pumping, but on subsequent listens the PTSD nightmare “Confusion” got a few approving nods out of me too. There is ample room for growth.
Which goes for Metallica too. Hardwired…To Self-Destruct may be the band at its best since The Black Album, but it’s not at their best as on The Black Album and its predecessors. It is, however, a bloody good time at the movies, as opposed to the depressing soap opera Metallica has given us over the last fifteen years or so. The fourteen year old in me is glad to have bought a brand new Metallica album that he won’t have to pawn off to someone to who I really owe a copy of Hardwired. You know who you are.
I’ll finish up by remarking how fun it was to pick a clip to go with this review. Normally the choice is between one lyric and/or official video, but in the case of Metallica I could literally pick any song and there would be a corresponding clip. That’s some solid marketing.
3.75 // 5