Metallica “Hardwired…to Self-Destruct” Review

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The Specs:
12 Tracks
1 hr & 17 min
Double CD & on Spotify
Standout Tracks: Hardwired, Moth Into Flame, Atlas Rise!, Here Comes Revenge, Spit Out the Bone
Coolest Riff: Main Riff on Confusion

On 11/18/16 Metallica released the much anticipated new album “Hardwired…to Self-Destruct”. It’s the first album since 2008’s also much anticipated “Death Magnetic”. I guess everything Metallica does at this point is much anticipated and they deserve it even though they have been more or less disappointing for the last 20 years. I have personally written off Metallica since Reload, but have recently become interested based on a piece of the “Moth Into Flame” single I heard. This is an album everyone is talking about and the reactions are all over the place. Being intrigued I dug in and also decided to give Death Magnetic a spin to offer a simple comparison.

Overall Rating:
S-Q-U-E-E

Comparison to Death Magnetic:
Hardwired is definitely building on Death Magnetic, which is an album I felt failed miserably. Sonically speaking Death Magnetic is bizarre & worth a skip even though at the time you wanted to make all the excuses in the world why it’s amazing just because it kind of sounded like Metallica trying to bring back classic Metallica. If Death Magnetic was a way of relearning their roots then I’m all for it because Hardwired revisits so much classic energy, but it feels way more genuine and natural than Death Magnetic. Both albums have long tracks, but Hardwired could have learned from its predecessor by keeping it to 10 tracks maybe 9. You will forget Death Magnetic even existed after one listening to Hardwired.

Let get into it:
Hardwired will surprise the crap out of you. It is definitively the best collection of songs Metallica has put out since the black album over two decades ago. Just the sound alone erases everything since the black album. For all the good in the album Metallica can’t seem to get out of their own way. There are so many great riffs and grooves, but they continuously ruin it by adding additional parts that ruin the flow. I have no idea when a verse, pre chorus, chorus or bridges begin or end. I could have also done without half of the guitar solos, they seemed forced and to fulfill someone’s need for guitar solos, but not exactly for the benefit for the song. Hardwired is mostly a collection of great metal parts with some not so good parts. If you’re looking for anthem hooky choruses then you’ll hate this album. Plus James Hetfield seems to insist on trying to sing ballads for some reason. At this point unless another Nothing Else Matters pops up James should only be barking it out. Overall this album has riffage paying homage to Kill em All through Load. Hardwired also pays homage a bunch of non Metallica styles such as Iron Maiden, Anthrax & funny enough Megadeth. I am actually excited to listen to this album again and again minus a few tracks. I am also not dreading hearing James’s voice. For some reason since Load I have found his voice to be unpleasant. Load would have been way better with another singer. Let’s break it down further.

Track by Track:
1. Hardwired (3:11) – Great intro to this album! If you like Battery, Damage Inc & Metal Militia then this is for you. When it comes to Metallica I don’t really listen to the lyrics, but this is one of worst pre chorus or chorus lyrics in the Metallica repertoire. Only if the rest of the tracks were under 4 minutes.

2. Atlas, Rise! (6:29) – One of my favorite tracks. Atlas pays homage to Master of Puppets & Maiden in this one. It gets a tad metal whimsical for no reason but it still kicks.

3. Now that We’re Dead (6:59) – Cool tribal intro kinda of a weird take on Megadeth’s Reckoning Day. Great metal riffage & groove out of the gate into a Kill Em All like verse. This song is the first song where you kind of think I could do without the pre chorus & chorus. I’d rather just hear the verse and intro. There’s some Load-esque moments on this one. Some cool & some eh. There’s a bunch of parts that could be taken out.

4. Moth Into Flame (5:51) – Another Puppets rocker mixed with the best of Load and James tearing it up on rhythm. The only part I’m not into is the Maiden guitar melody part, which seems just out of place in the context of everything. It’s supposed to be the guitar hook of the song, but the part after it is so much cooler.

5. Dream No More (6:30) – Sad But True like intro into the best of Load. One of my favorite verse melodies. Really cool and groovy. When they get to the pre chorus or chorus, I’m not really sure what it is they destroy all that is cool with some super sluggish unfocused part that reminds of Savatage actually (remember them?). I can picture Jon Oliva singing it for some reason, but it sounds more like Stevens. Savatage would sound much better doing it. I’m getting sidetracked, back to Metallica. The intro and outro to and from the solo section is an awesome guitar melody but the main solo is the same Metallica solo you heard a 1000 times on the black album. Drop the wah and try a talk box or something.

6. Halo On Fire (8:15) – Holy crap is this a waste of space & it might be the 2nd worst on Hardwired. It’s like Metallica is trying to do a Megadeth song like Go to Hell meets Dawn Patrol meets Revelation Mother Earth. Another really pointless intro. James the balladeer appears for the first time and unfortunately not the last. So boring and stoopid. Don’t waste your time looking for a cool part in this 8 min poo drop. It just keeps getting worse. I’ll take that back. A killer riff comes in at 4:50 and disappears faster than the phantom lord at 5:05.

7. Confusion (6:41) – Probably the biggest disappointment on Hardwired. After listening to a 1 minute long intro of the same Metallica part you heard on Puppets, Justice & Black Album you get to the coolest guitar riff of the album. Then in current Metallica tradition they destroy the momentum and go into some weird sub par Iron Maiden Mother Russi-esque part then to a really boring verse. Fortunately enough they weave the main riff in and out throughout the song. Unfortunately 99% of the parts around the main riff kind of make you scratch your head and wonder why wasn’t the whole song the main riff and does there really need to be multiple guitar solos. I blame Lars for finding 99 ways to die.

8. ManUnkind (6:56) – Most unnecessary Metallica intro ever. Even though it lasts 30 seconds it makes you look up every Iron Maiden song on Dance of The Dead, Brave New World, A Matter of Life and Death and Final Frontier, which takes hours! What the f*** Metallica like what the f***. I had to find the exact song where this came from for seem reason & you will too, they are playing sick game here. Did you make Robert break into Maiden’s studio and just steal their s***? Metallica is Metallica & Iron Maiden is Iron Maiden and lets keep it that way. It’s almost as if Metallica studied every Maiden song from these albums and said hey lets do this again and do it sonically exactly the same because that would be cool. Then after that we’ll go into that same metal marching band thing. At about minute and a half you finally get into the meat of the song and it’s like a take on that cool Shinedown song meets Load. I skip this track. And to my right Robert Trujillo, he wrote this.

9. Here Comes Revenge (7:18) – I love this track and no one really talk about it, which makes me wonder. Again after setting the momentum in the intro Metallica has to bring it down to this really annoying dreary tribal thing and then for a brief moment into Orion, which is really cool, if only for a blink of an eye. When it rocks it rocks hard.

10. Am I Savage (6:30) – Really cool intro into that Shinedown stomp. Then at the 2 minutes mark it gets all Megadeth like, which made me look up a ton of Megadeth songs to find the one it sounds like. I’m still looking, there’s so many. This song is really boring and the best part was listening to all the Megadeth songs.

11. Murder One (5:45) – Enter metal marching band part again. This is Metallica’s tribute to the late/great Lemmy. Probably one of the worst songs written in the last 30 years, this includes all genres. What the hell is this. I call 911 Emergency on this one. Sorry Lemmy there’s only death here no glory and sadly they overkilled you. OMG I’m starting to write James lyrics… next track!

12. Spit out the bone (7:09) – This track totally redeemed all the crappy ones on this album. Horns up & crank it! No Life til Leather! Thank you Metallica. Why the hell didn’t you write at least two more songs like this?

There you have it that’s my opinion, I hope you got something out of it. I delayed posting this because I wanted to see how I felt about it after time went by & I’m happy to say I’m still really into it. I know there was a bunch of negative stuff in there but it’s a really long album and there’s plenty of awesome stuff in there as well. Dig in and find it.

– Squeeze