Metallica takes back metal with ‘Hardwired’

The “metal” in Metallica’s name is back! After an eight year gap in between studio albums, the band has proven it can still write and perform heavy metal like it once did. Fans got a taste of new music in 2014 with “Lords of Summer” (which can be found on the deluxe edition) and won’t be disappointed in the rest of Hardwired…To Self Destruct.

Hardwired is the band’s first self-released studio album on its own Blackened Recordings and was issued as a double album or triple deluxe edition on November 18th. The double album contains 80 minutes of music with six tracks per disc. The triple edition CD contains a bonus disc featuring previously unreleased studio and live tracks, including “Lords of Summer” and “Ronnie Rising Medley” from a Ronnie James Dio tribute album. The set wraps with a live version of “Hardwired” from August 2016.

All of the tracks are uptempo and very thrash and full of speed with some slower elements spread throughout, including the beginning of “ManUNkind.” Lars Ulrich may get the brunt of drummer jokes for his simplistic drumming, but the 52 year old can still keep up the speed with his machine gun-like double bass drumming throughout. Kirk Hammett’s guitar solos are full force and Robert Trujillo’s pounding bass blends in with the guitars, but isn’t overpowering.

Like always, Ulrich and frontman James Hetfield have written most of the material, but usually Hammett contributes. That wasn’t the case this time.

“For me, being in this band, I always want to contribute,” Hammett tells Team Rock. “I always have a lot of musical concepts and ideas to bring to the table. Obviously, that was not meant to be this time, and I had to accept that fact. So I focused on my solos, just making sure that my playing on the album was at its best – at its full potential. Hopefully I can bring my ideas to the next Metallica album. I just hope it’s not another eight years.”

Metallica opens the album with the title track, which is just over three minutes in length. It’s the shortest album on the track, but doesn’t suffer the fate of many singles that have been shortened for radio. I’m surprised the explicit lyrics in the track alone didn’t warrant a parental advisory sticker.

My favorite track is from the bonus disc called “When A Blind Man Cries” from the Re-Machined: A Tribute To Deep Purple’s Machine Head album in 2012. It’s very bluesy and starts out slow but gains momentum and speed towards the end of the four and half minute track. Kirk Hammett’s guitar skills are exceptional during the bluesy solo. A very nice nod to blues rock with a metal twist.

Another favorite is “Spit Out The Bone.” The song represents thrash to a T. The minute long intro has a variety of beats and accents. I love Hetfield’s approach to saying “Spit out the bone.” It’s a very unique way that only Hetfield could pull off.

The production side of things is better than 2008’s Death Magnetic. I don’t feel Hardwired…To Self Destruct is pushed beyond where it should be, like its predecessor. I do feel the bass should’ve been mixed a bit louder, as it tends to blend with the guitars, at least on the boombox I use. Otherwise, I feel the production is pretty spot on and not overproduced like most of today’s music. Metallica isn’t using any loops either, like a lot of metal bands have begun using. This continues to make them pioneers in my opinion. They’ve always done things their own way and it seems like they’ll continue to do so as they’ve bought the masters of their previous work and can do what they want.

Overall, there’s not a bad song on the album. Classic Metallica fans will buy the album and put it on repeat on either CD or LP, because that’s how music is meant to be heard. I became a fan with The Black Album but have purchased their earlier works as well, so hopefully newer fans will give this album a chance. I’m just glad Metallica is back to being Metallica and have released a new album that isn’t overly mastered and sounds fantastic!

2 CD | Deluxe 3 CD | 2 LP | Deluxe 3 LP

Author: Buddy Iahn

Buddy Iahn founded The Music Universe when he decided to juxtapose his love of web design and music. As a lifelong drummer, he decided to take a hiatus from playing music to report it. The website began as a fun project in 2013 to one of the top independent news sites.