Metallica – “Hardwired… to Self Destruct”
IT’S FINALLY HAPPENED! We finally have a new Metallica album! All metalheads around the world are collectively banging their heads to the sounds of Marshall amps and Tama drums. It seemed like this day would never come. Eight years is a long time to wait for an album. Most bands wouldn’t last going that long without a release of some kind of new material. But if we’re being honest here we’re not just talking about “most bands”… this is Metallica!
As far as the overall audio quality of the album it’s everything I’ve been hoping it would be. They have their signature “Wall of Guitars” sound, the drums are blended beautifully, and they still found a way to have James’ vocals cut through it all. The overall tone of the album is a little dark, but it honestly works. With tracks titled “Dream No More” and “Now That We’re Dead” you can understand why Greg Fidelman and the band went in this direction. It complements the lyrics and the overall composition of the album very appropriately.
Speaking of composition, let’s talk about how well these are written. It’s so refreshing hearing something simplified to ultimately make it sound better. Thrash metal should be simple while keeping a fast tempo. It also needs to be aggressive. This album has a great balance of this while also giving us more of a heavy dynamic on other tracks such as “Murder One.” Perhaps leaving Kirk out of the writing process was a good move. I just hope it doesn’t cause bad blood between the band members. However, it does raise the question of “what would it sound like if they did let Kirk in on writing process?” I guess won’t know unless he gets a chance to voice the next album… which is hopefully sooner than eight years.
What this whole album boils down to is if it’s a true Metallica album. Does it compare to greats like “Ride the Lightning” and “Master of Puppets?” Can we even compare them with how many years have passed since then? I think we need to stop comparing what they’ve done with what they are doing. They’ve made albums that stand the test of time so well we are listening to them 20 – 30 years later. However, these albums were made in an entirely different time for music. The music industry is not what it used to be and neither is Metallica. They’ve grown and it shows in their music. Not everything they’ve released may be your favorite but we can all pick two albums from them that we can agree are regular go to albums for at least a couple playlists you’ve pieced together.
As for this new album, I couldn’t be happier. My first impressions are that it was well thought out and they used the time they had to make it exactly the way they envisioned it. If the band I grew up with still can surprise me with amazing works of art like this I’ll still buy them. I just wish we could finally get them out to Rochester, NY to play a show or two.
I rate “Hardwired…” a 5 out of 5.