Metallica
Hardwired... To Self-Destruct (Deluxe Edition)

Talk about one of the most anticipated metal releases for 2016. The hype for Hardwired… To Self-Destruct has been through the roof.  I preordered this special 3cd edition some time ago and it never reached me.  My post office could not find it and it was never delivered, yet I paid for it.  Score: Rini 1 and Metallica 0.  My bank ruled in favor of me and credited back my account.  I found this edition less expensive on Amazon and went ahead and scored it from them.   As far as I’m concerned Metallica’s first 4 albums are untouchable thrash metal classics, defining the genre. They’re perfect.  The Black album, I hated when it came out. I saw them live on the Blackened tour and they were phenomenal. It’s only years later I’ve come to appreciate the Black album.

The Load and Reload albums were stinkers.  Going for a larger groove oriented sound, abandoning anything resembling thrash. It’s not until St. Anger when Metallica would go back to their thrash roots. The problem was the band was in strife, dealing with Hetfield’s alcohol addiction, the Some Kind of Monster movie, Bob Rocks’ continuing misguided influence Metallica were not musically focused. I still enjoy St. Anger. I  agree the songs needs to be chopped in half, way too long for their own good.  Furthermore there were NO guitar solos. Terrible. But the abysmal production of St. Anger was uncalled for, from a multi-million platinum selling band. From the horrific drum sound to no bass guitar to James’ cracking voice this album gains notoriety as the worst sounding metal album, right alongside Sodom’s god awful production of Obsessed by Cruelty.  But St. Anger was thrashing and catchy so I overlook some parts of this.

2008’s Death Magnetic was and is outstanding. Better production, although some clipping was evident and a return to their vintage sound has this and their Beyond Magnetic ep as some of the bands strongest material. Lulu, well, hmmm experimental is the word. Collaborating with Lou Reed the album is a debacle. Polarizing their entire fan base. I’ve met no one that likes the album.  These are their full length albums of original material. In order from best to worst and I’ll get to where Hardwired… To Self-Destruct fits in at the end of the review, once I finally get to the review: Master of Puppets, Kill ‘Em All, Ride the Lightening, ...and Justice for All, Death Magnetic, the Black album, St. Anger, Load, Reload, Lulu.

One of the smart moves was to release Hardwired… To Self-Destruct across 2 discs. The playing time is 76 minutes total, which is a long metal album. This preserves the production value of the material, very smart move, Metallica.  Songs range from the 3 minute mark to their trademark long songs. Metallica has been writing long songs since their classic 1983 debut Kill ‘Em All, so I’m used to it, but on certain albums the longer songs work, but on albums like St. Anger and this new one, not so much. Album opener “Hardwired” slays. Metallica could not have picked a better opening song. This needs to be their live opener on this tour. They waste little time, and get right to the thrash metal. Hetfield sounds outstanding.  Harnessing his vintage 80’s metal voice he sounds angry and pissed on this track. I love it.

Hammet’s got some solos, Lars throws in the double bass and thank god for Rob Trujillo. Yes Metallica hazed him on Death Magnetic by burying his bass guitar in the mix. On Hardwired… To Self-Destruct they grew up and the bass guitar is audible on the entire album. He’s always been a great bass player with his bass plucking with Suicidal Tendencies and Infectious Grooves.  This adds a much enhanced rhythm section, which has been sorely devoid for years.  Rob’s bass playing on this record destroys!  “Atlas, Rise!” is good. More mid-paced. The song is repetitive, yet I really enjoy this track.  “Moth into Flame” is another highlight on disc1. It has groove and killer riffing. Excellent solos and nice fast, thrash passages, which again harken back to their classic thrash metal classics from 30 years earlier. Hetfield mixed up his vocal tones and adds an extra layer of greatness to the track. I like the drumming from Lars on this track as well. Well done.  “Halo on Fire” is worth mentioning as it sounds like a leftover off the Black album, alongside some eerily similar moments to “Fade to Black”.  Long, moody, James laying down some melodic vocals with some simplistic musical arrangements.  At over 8 minutes the song is the longest on the entire album.  Some of the guitar melodies are nice with Kirk laying nice solos towards the end of the song, the tune picking up pace and Lars throwing in some double bass.  The entire song has future classic written all over it.  Truly a monster song.

Disc 2 opens with “Confusion”.  Decent track featuring some excellent guitar riffing at the 2.40 mark.  This song grooves throughout its 6+ minute length and more excellent soloing from Kirk.  “Here Comes Revenge” is groovy, heavy, excellent solos and nice signature time changes.  “Spit Out the Bone”, closes the album and is a terrific thrash metal closer.   Right up there with their earlier classics.  I love this song.  I just wish there were more of these moments.  The way Hetfield spits out his vox on this track and guitar riffing, I wanted more, but the album gets slogged down with a little too much groove for its own good.  The album needed some more true fast songs thrown in the mix, but too many songs groove and groove, slow, melodic and take a while to hit the Metallica riff.

This is more evident on Disc 2, which is not as strong as Disc 1.  Disc 2 focuses more on the heavy groove style and simpler song writing which was on the Black album.   With that being said, I still like Hardwired… To Self-Destruct alot.  Not as strong as Death Magnetic, but if I were to place this in their discography, I would put this right after  Death Magentic and before the Black album, because this is a really strong Metallica album with enough metal and thrash moments to keep you happy.  The production is excellent.  All the instruments breathe well and James’ vocals cutting through all the metal up your ass moments.  I’ve been cranking this non-stop recently.  Metallica even shot a video for every song, pretty wild and the videos are all excellent.

This deluxe edition has a bonus 3rd disc of b sides, covers and a live set.  This is the edition you want.  Hell, one of the live tracks is “Metal Militia”, one of their greatest Metallica songs ever.  At 80 minutes disc 3 is dynamite.  The original song “Lords of Summer”, on disc 3 is outstanding.  I love the chorus and some of the brooding melodic metal riffs, the faster thrash parts.  Excellent song, this should have been on disc 2, replacing one of the meh tunes, on that disc.    The booklet layout is exceptional, no complaints there.  Lyrics displayed beautifully and creatively and various pictures of the band members, altered, like on the album cover, all spread out across a massive digipak.    The combination of all 3 discs adds up to 3 hours-worth of music.  Well worth the extra skrilla on your part.

While not as good as Anthrax or Megadeth’s 2016 offerings, Hardwired… To Self-Destruct is a strong output from Metallica and one of my favorite albums for 2016.  I hope they don’t wait another 8 years to release a new album.  They will be into their 60’s and doubtful any fast thrash tunes would be on an album 8 years from now.  If you love Metallica, get this, despite some of my gripes it’s a pretty ripping and fun album.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Frank Rini
December 5th, 2016

Comments

  1. Commented by: emperor

    Eh, I sure wasn’t anticipating this album, stopped caring about Metallica’s releases after Load. Hype only applies if you care, which the reviewer obviously does.

    Summary of this album, it is a mix of Death Magnetic and the Loads, with some Kill ’em All sprinkled in (I noticed this in some of the beats Lars used, particularly). You can almost place each song – “Hardwired” – KEA, “Atlas,Rise” – DM, “Confusion” – Load.

    One thing that still bothers me is the guitar tone is still not up to par. Compare this to Ride the Lightning, the 5.98 ep, the Black album, or even Load, they all sound much better. Some of the grainy sound from Death magnetic carried over.

    Anthrax’s new one is SO much better than this it’s not even funny. Kudos on pointing that out (I didn’t get into Megadeth’s), now THAT is a must buy album.


  2. Commented by: E. Thomas

    Yeah this is ‘Load’ meets Death Magnetic


  3. Commented by: F.Rini

    Emperor: In terms of metal releases, worldwide, yes this was the most anticipated album for the year, record sales prove that. Still does not make it the best album of the year. You will see all of the staff’s best of’s in the coming weeks and mine will mostly contain death metal and grind. I take everything into account and when I see a bunch of 50 somethings still thrashing it out it’s an accomplishment. I really paid attention to the riffs on this one and some of what Metallica are driving home with a song like Am I savage?, really is crushing riffs. The new Anthrax is ridiculously awesome, like their last record. I do feel there is a lot of “Hate” towards Metallica and some of it has to do with people just hating ’cause the band is popular. Back in the day anytime a death metal band or thrash band broke the proverbial glass ceiling all the haters would come out of the ground saying they now suck, which is B.S. I am not implying that is you, at all, you have well thought out points! However; I see a lot of fans, whether it’s death, thrash, grind, traditional or black metal screaming..”You know I still wish it was 1983, or 1986 or 1990″…I’ve always been, yes we have our certain favorite years of metal, but stop tearing the scene apart by living in the effin past and move along with the times, brother.

    To each his own and we all appreciate your comments and coming on here and adding your thoughts. It’s what metal is about. And, Erik, thanks for always reading. Editor extraordinaire, even if New Orleans D is porous, this year.


  4. Commented by: Glenn Whitehead

    This band ran out of talent on the 4th album. The singer isn’t very good. The riffs are tired. The lead guitarist is the worst musician in a popular band ever in History and should have been fired decades ago for a real hot player. The drummer is inept and never was very good. Which leaves you with the bassist, who rules. There is simply nothing there of interest. Considering the zillions of talented bands out there and all the great stuff on Bandcamp, this is bullshit, a distraction from really good mmetal music. If you like thrash, listen to Witchery or Angelus Apatrida ffs!


  5. Commented by: Cirkus-Lizard

    Frank…spot on review. I’ve not paid a lot of attention to Metallica since the late 80’s, but have been enjoying this quite a bit. Unfortunately the band needs someone to challenge their inability to self edit. Imagine one 45 minute CD with the 1st disc less Dream No More but add Lords of Summer and Spit Out the Bone.

    Vocally James sounds great, and would disagree with emperor on the production other than the drums being too loud…although in all fairness I have spent very little time listening to more recent releases.


  6. Commented by: F.Rini

    Thanks cirkus-lizard. Yep, Metallica has to streamline songs more. It’s their biggest problem.


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