Eight years have passed since a new Metallica album, yet this year on November 18th their new album, Hardwired… to Self Destruct, has been released. Not since 2008 has Metallica put out new material with their album Death Magnetic. Some of Death Magnetic’s tone is carried on into their next album, and in a positive way. Hardwired clocks in at their second longest album, beat only by Load at one minute longer. Hardwired is split into two discs; six songs each. This is new and has an interesting feel, as each disc has their own feel as well. This album is also unique as it features no songwriting contributions from Kirk Hammett, lead guitarist.
Prior to the album’s release, three singles were released over a few months. The first song, “Hardwired”, was released August 18th, long before the album debut. Two more singles, “Moth Into Flame” and “Atlas, Rise”, were released September 26th and October 31st respectively. These songs had fantastic reception, and did well to excite fans for this next album. All three were off of the first disk, and left the tone of disc two yet to be discovered. Overall, the album has a lot of a rock and roll, mostly in its vocals and rhythm riffs, yet there’s still plenty of thrash and speed to be felt.
The album starts off with “Hardwired”, the shortest and thrashiest song on the album. At only three minutes, this high BPM song is very fast paced. Despite an incredibly short solo, the ending groove truly completes the song. Its an excellent song to start the album with. Second is “Atlas, Rise”, a rhythmically intensive song. Solid rhythm under great vocals form the verse, and the breakdown riff behind the solo is absolutely insane. A totally Kill ‘Em All riff behind a phenomenally thrashy wah solo puts this song towards the top of the rankings for this album. Third is “Now That We’re Dead”, a very rock and roll song led by strong power chords and vocals. Once again, a disappointing solo, but very reminiscent of of Death Magnetic. This one stands out in particular for its similar tone and effects. After is “Moth Into Flame”, a groovy tune with interesting lead work. The chorus vocals convey a lot of talent and coincide with the guitar well. The great break down riff and a wah drowned solo are practically trademarked at this point. Song five, “Dream No More”, starts off very slow with some drawn out chords into a very heavy verse. So far, it’s heavier than the other songs on disc one, yet not much can be said for the rest of the song. The last song on disc one, “Halo On Fire”, is true rock and roll. A favorite of disk one, the guitar harmonies are indisputably beautiful and James Hetfield’s sweet verse lyrics bring a soft tone to this song. But the chorus come in with a volume and power, yet still very rock. All the way through to the breakdown and even the solo, rock and roll breathes in this song, and it serves as a great transition to the next disc.
Disc two conveys a more brooding, dark tone, with songs that feel slower and heavier. Most notably, the drums are much more audible on the second disc, lending to a heavier tone. The first song on disc two is “Confusion”, which starts to show some of this mood. Once again, strong rhythm and vocals drive the song, but the drums already feel more powerful. Second is “ManUNkind”, a unique song in that it’s the only one to feature songwriting contributions from bass player Robert Trujillo. One of the first songs, though not the last, to start off slow, a beautiful bass melody accompanied by sweet lead opens this song off. It soon gives way to a groovy rhythm with great riffs all the way to the end. The breakdown gets even heavier, and the lyrics lend to this as well. After is “Here Comes Revenge”, which very well might be the best song on the entire album. Starting with what can only be described as gnarly chords and bending wah lead, into what might be the greatest rhythm riff of all time. Although the the verse is weak, it comes back in an explosive way for the chorus. A groovy breakdown riff into a powerful solo backed by the chorus riff keeps this song interesting all the way through, and concludes with the opening riff. Fourth is “Am I Savage”, which also starts off a little bit slower but moves into a very groovy verse riff. A dark, heavy breakdown riff with exotic pitch harmonics and a thrashy solo lend to this discs tone as well. The fifth song on this disc is “Murder One”. This song is special, as it is a tribute to the late Lemmy Kilmister, frontman and bassist for Mötorhead. Mötorhead had an incredible influence on Metallica’s early career, and this song goes out to honor the greatest. As for the song itself, it’s very driven by vocals, powerful singing with equally powerful lyrics. The last song on the whole album is “Spit Out The Bone”, another rapid, quick paced song. This song is characterized by some serious drum work, with double bass drumming from Lars Ulrich that’s rare to hear. A quick breakdown with a weak solo on top, yet still with powerful drums. Towards the end there’s a second solo, something unique about this song. It’s thrashy, intense, and no more of a Metallica-esque solo could have finished this masterpiece album.
This album is a fantastic addition to Metallica’s discology. Without a single song to mar the quality of the album, it’s one of the greatest for sure. A great follow up to Death Magnetic, hopefully we can expect more great music from the most successful heavy metal band on the planet.