Metallica - Hardwired... To Self-Destruct review


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Band: Metallica
Album: Hardwired... To Self-Destruct
Release date: November 2016

Disc I [CD]
01. Hardwired
02. Atlas, Rise!
03. Now That We're Dead
04. Moth Into Flame
05. Dream No More
06. Halo On Fire

Disc II [CD]
01. Confusion
02. ManUNkind
03. Here Comes Revenge
04. Am I Savage?
05. Murder One
06. Spit Out The Bone

Disc III [CD] [Deluxe Edition Only]
01. Lords Of Summer
02. Ronnie Rising Medley
    1 - A Light In The Black [Rainbow cover]
    2 - Tarot Woman [Rainbow cover]
    3 - Stargazer [Rainbow cover]
    4 - Kill The King [Rainbow cover]
03. When A Blind Man Cries [Deep Purple cover]
04. Remember Tomorrow [Iron Maiden cover]
05. Helpless [Diamond Head cover] [Live at Rasputin Music]
06. Hit The Lights [Live at Rasputin Music]
07. The Four Horsemen [Live at Rasputin Music]
08. Ride The Lightning [Live at Rasputin Music]
09. Fade To Black [Live at Rasputin Music]
10. Jump In The Fire [Live at Rasputin Music]
11. For Whom The Bell Tolls [Live at Rasputin Music]
12. Creeping Death [Live at Rasputin Music]
13. Metal Militia [Live at Rasputin Music]
14. Hardwired [Live in Minneapolis]

Is Metallica back? Nah. Is Metallica less gone? Yeah, sure. Hardwired… To Self-Destruct gets off to a pretty good start; the title track may be as generic as one of Kirk Hammett's guitar solos, but at least it's fast-paced and over quickly, and the next few tracks are pretty strong. Unfortunately, like so many other aging titans, Metallica can't keep up the pace across 77 minutes of bloated, mediocre material.

Songs like "Now That We're Dead" and "Dream No More" wed the deliberate pace and heavy groove of Metallica material with the ponderous bluesiness of Load, resulting in what I mistook for doom influence before the continuous cycles of standard hard rock/heavy metal riffing disabused me of that notion. The title track may have given the impression that Metallica was winding the clock a little farther back than they actually are; while the thrash elements on this album do feel a bit more old school than those on Death Magnetic, many of the songs on Hardwired follow more closely from the moderate tempos, steady groove, and blocky blandness of edgy alt rock Metallica. Nothing on Hardwired feels visceral or dynamic; a few good songs, yes, but none I would deem fit to stand alongside the great thrash releases of this year from bands like Death Angel, Vektor, Helstar, Exmortus, etc.

Part of my distaste for Hardwired comes from the doughy bluntness of Metallica's modern sound. I don't care for James's too-clean voice and too-precise articulation, or Lars's meat-hammer bass drum, or that Reload-holdover guitar tone that simultaneously sounds too fat and hard rock-oriented to make convincingly savage thrash and not powerful enough to achieve any other kind of satisfactory effect. Even without the immensely suffocating production of Death Magnetic, Hardwired sounds far too controlled and compact to rip and tear through sonic barriers like "Battery" or "Trapped Under Ice." If I didn't know any better, and I don't, I'd wager that the band got frightened by the overwhelmingly negative reception to Lulu and decided never to experiment or try anything new ever again. Somebody took a magnifying glass to Hardwired and ensured that not a single note could slip out of place or exhibit any unauthorized personality.

This is Death Magnetic Metallica using Load techniques to play Black Album material, which in a post-Lulu world can sound like …And Justice For All, but I'm not encouraged by the fact that this album merely succeeded at not being terrible. I'm not setting the bar as high as Master Of Puppets, but I'm also not setting it as low as Lulu. Hardwired is fine, but Metallica can do a lot better, even now.

I don't want to give the impression, however, that I'm criticizing Metallica just to consolidate my metal elitist points or something, because hating Metallica is as in-vogue now as it ever has been and I want to be a part of that bandwagon about as much as I want to be lumped in with the fanboys. My distaste stems from genuine disappointments, but Hardwired also has plenty of things going for it. The best moth-related thrash song of 2016 is very clearly Death Angel's "The Moth," but "Moth Into Flame" keeps its adrenaline flowing through six minutes, having discovered that layering James's vocals curbs their piercing cleanness. "Spit Out The Bone" and "Atlas, Rise!" are definitely among the best songs the band has produced in a long, long time. Even if Hardwired is a step down from Death Magnetic, it's a step up from eight years of endless live releases and reissues.

Too many songs on Hardwired are forgettable to make it anything more than the best album that Metallica released in 2016, and, frankly, I wish Metallica would stop trying to write seven- and eight-minute songs if they only have 90 seconds of ideas. Even so, I liked the album overall and can see myself returning to it, maybe even learning to like it a little more with time. I expect better of Metallica next time, but they at least managed to keep their act together.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 5
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 6
Production: 6


Written on 27.11.2016 by I'm the reviewer, and that means my opinion is correct.


Comments: 22   Visited by: 927 users
27.11.2016 - 23:52
Bad English
I have been spinning new Sucktallica album on spotify , actually its pretty good, its one of those what you can spin and spin, back to roots, garage days, more garage punk whit a bit metal elements if we look at song lenght, thing what is missing long hair, letter jackets, dirty garage whit emthy beer cans everywhere, stinky smell of cigarettes and well only good thing is good master here, otherwise its smells like teen spirit, old good garage days, beck to the damn roots, almost every song is good. Whats wrong whit em after black album sucktallica, before metallia, anyway decent album, but sad fan boys and girls will overate it.

but it don't change a fact its sucktallica now and will be
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
28.11.2016 - 00:26
Nice review, SSUS. agree with you, though i like it a tad more than you. after so many albums that did nada for me, i'll actually spin this one again.

nowhere near their first four, but those were 30 years ago.
get the fuck off my lawn.
28.11.2016 - 03:16
I agree with the reviewer 100%. This album is not awful. Some songs aren't very good and their is way too much repetition and overdone ideas. However, there are some good moments too. Spit Out the Bone is a very good song IMO. Moth Into Flame, Atlas, Rise too. I do disagree with the reviewer I really liked Now That We're Dead. It's not really a thrash song, it's more groovy rock hard/metal but I found myself singing it in my head after a few listens. It's not infomercial singing in my head either, it was genuine "I like this song" shit. Anyways I'm not a fan boy and I hate follow the crowd and just hating on something or someone just because it's cool. AKA Hipsters (I hate hipsters). I do feel this is an album that should be 8 songs long and about 30-32mins and it would be a really solid release. Unfrtouantely it's 12 songs and 77 long ass minutes. Therefore, I'd rate it a 6 flat.

By the way I think Anthrax' For All Kings and Testaments "Brotherhood of he Snake" were the best two thrash albums this year. I do love Death Angels Evil Divide though. I'd rate it third. Exmortus is awesome, love them just don't consider them a true thrash band more speed/power. Vector is very talented, the vocals are just not my favorite style. Still great new album by them. Helstar is more speed/power metal with thrash elements. To each their own, they are very talented too. When Rivera screeches I love it, when he sings in an operatic way I just don't like it as much.

People shit on the old grandfathers of thrash, but IMO they are still the best at what they do and their new albums have all been awesome this year, accept for Metallica.
28.11.2016 - 03:17
Au Pays Natal
I tried, I really did. Band just doesn't do it for me anymore. Excellent review and thanks.
28.11.2016 - 05:09
I thought the album was pretty okay. I really agree with the reviewers line of, "I'm not encouraged by the fact that this album merely succeeded at not being terrible.". Its really the most accurate thing i've heard about this album.Metallica made their careers on mindblowing albums and this one is a far cry from that. But, there are a lot of bright spots. I think if they had just cut the entire second album minus Spit Out The Bone, the release would have been a lot more solid. Well, that wouldn't really solve the crappy production though.
28.11.2016 - 08:32
Captain Obvious
I respect this review, fair enough. I'd probably give it anywhere between 7.5 or 8.5 because some of these songs kick ass. The mid-tempo stuff like "Now That We're Dead" and "Here Comes Revenge" are super catchy to me. My favourite song from this album is "Halo on Fire", it has to be one of the most beautiful songs they've ever written, and I really hope it becomes a live staple on this tour. Every time I listen to the song, I can imagine a crowd of 75,000 people screaming along to every lyric and every guitar harmony.

"Spit Out The Bone" will garner universal praise from feminazis around the world, and at the same time cause an uproar among sexist males for having a title that's suggestively anti-blowjob. Other than that, the song is one of the best they've written in a long time. It'll be interesting to see if they can pull it off live, though.

Overall, while there are songs that I find to be pointless filler (ie Confusion, Am I Savage, ManUnkind), this album is very solid. As for where I would rank this album, I would put it slightly below Death Magnetic, but above everything else they've given us in the past 25 years. If this is the last album we ever get from them, I won't be disappointed.
Did you ever notice that the people who tell you to get a life are normally people who should be dead in the first place?
28.11.2016 - 08:52
Cynic Metalhead
Atrocious Virgin
Apart from being a rip off of "Death Magnetic" and playmaking within its context, I enjoyed it much more than your review says. Terrific review by the way and truly justifies all high and low points of a record but as far as "enjoyment" level is concerned, people having fun with it and so do I.
28.11.2016 - 11:35
I guess the bands ageing is showing more than ever now, it's not like their old days, that said it's not bad material and not as bad some people make it out to be. It's not like their old days but I didn't expect it to be, and I can listen to this album when i'm in the right mood. I imagine a lot of the die hard fans will be happy with these songs. Some of the riffs in songs like Confusion are good. The only real problem I have with this album is (as someone mentioned before) it sounds too similar to Death Magnetic for its own good, and a few of the songs could've been made more exciting.
28.11.2016 - 13:42
I haven't been able to get into anything Metallica have done after (and kind of including) the Black Album because James Hetfield's voice just developed a much more whiny and "yeaaahhhhaaahhhaaahhh" type delivery to it, which totally turns me off. Either his voice changed naturally, or he intentionally changed his technique, but either way, I don't care for it. Hard to listen to those types of vocals without imagining that you're listening to some radio billboard hard rock band. They've got such a cringy "yeahhhh I want you by my side babyyyy" type tone to them
This is the water, and this is the well
Drink full and descend
The horse is the white of the eyes, and dark within
28.11.2016 - 14:50
Old Nick
"Too many songs on Hardwired are forgettable to make it anything more than the best album that Metallica released in 2016, and, frankly, I wish Metallica would stop trying to write seven- and eight-minute songs if they only have 90 seconds of ideas".. very well said and very good review overall. There are 5 great songs in this album (Hardwired, Atlas, Moth, Halo and Bone) and the rest are not just below great, they are forgettable, generic and flat. Extremely long and bloated intros for no reason. It's such a waste of the great talent they have (or used to have?). The "tribute" to Lemmy is disgraceful, they could have covered one of Motorhead songs instead, like Damage case for example. Also the video for Manunkind is really awful and disrespectful towards Dead I think.
on and on south of heaven

28.11.2016 - 15:03
Metallica should really release their hard rock blues stuff under another name. That stuff is so much different (and not very good hard rock) than their thrash metal stuff, I don't see how someone can enjoy both. I also don't understand their obsession with long songs when it is clear they don't have the ideas for them. Far too many songs where I only enjoy Hammett's solo.

Great review. I agree on all points. The guitar sound is very unmetal and the drumming is horrible, as usual for the band.
28.11.2016 - 15:16
The Shape 1973
"Too many songs on Hardwired are forgettable" " I wish Metallica would stop trying to write seven- and eight-minute songs if they only have 90 seconds of ideas" "this album merely succeeded at not being terrible"

What he said.
Just because you believe in your strong morals it doesn't mean they are correct
28.11.2016 - 20:53
- Is Metallica back?
- What?
- Is Metallica less gone?
- What the hell are you talking about?
- Oh in that case let me rephrase my question; is this album any good?
- F**k no.

28.11.2016 - 22:11
Nihil's Maw
This is Death Magnetic Metallica using Load techniques to play Black Album material...

Yep, this is exactly what it sounds like. Not as terrible as it could have been, but not exactly all that exciting, either.

Anyway, good review.
01.12.2016 - 22:35
Heaven Knight
So this is worse than Lulu?
So behold the flight of the sapphire dragon
soaring through the skies once again

01.12.2016 - 22:43
Marcel Hubregtse
Grumpy Old Fuck
Written by Ellrohir on 01.12.2016 at 22:35

So this is worse than Lulu?

Totally not. Nothing is worse. But I understand your question
Member of the true crusade against European Flower Metal

Yesterday is dead and gone, tomorrow is out of sight
Dawn Crosby (r.i.p.)
05.04.1963 - 15.12.1996

03.12.2016 - 01:39
Black Knight
Written by Ellrohir on 01.12.2016 at 22:35

So this is worse than Lulu?

Not as worse as Lulu, not as good as Death Magnetic (which doesn't say much btw) but crap as Load (of fucking bullshit).
04.12.2016 - 14:14
Actually I see the new album more focused and developed over last couple of albums, DM is full of too-long songs with no direction and full of repetitiveness, while no words describe St. Anger and Lulu disasters.

If you are expecting new AJFA, MOP or RTL, this won't happen... it's the time effect; musicians age and the era itself (80's was more creative and challenging in music)
04.12.2016 - 14:47
Cynic Metalhead
Atrocious Virgin
Written by Nile_demon on 04.12.2016 at 14:14

Actually I see the new album more focused and developed over last couple of albums.

This is what it stands out for this record.

I also believe it's been more constructive, well-balanced, nicely fragmented and put into recording. Well, I understand about comparing with "Death Magentic" as outline of it is lot resemble to "Hardwired" but it is been more brilliantly executed.
13.12.2016 - 20:27
Underpaid M.D.
Excellent review, sums perfectly my thoughts about it.
"Les vers savent qu'ils n'ont pas d'ailes, c'est pour cela qu'ils se cachent sous terre"
08.05.2018 - 06:51
I've listened through "Hardwired" now for several times. Well, yes, James's style of singing ever since the black album changed, and the explosive screams of "Kill'em All" are not likely to ever resound from his throat. And, yes, the attitude and energy seem to have died together with Cliff (although much of it is still present on "Justice"). Even the black album, which I hated when it came out (except Sad But True) so much that I was actually relieved never to have had the band's logo tattooed on my skin, meanwhile has caught me somehow. The Metal ballads were there on Metallica albums ever since "Ride The Lightning", only not filling up a whole album. It just lacks the up-tempo speedy opener in the beginning and that thunderous final guitar gunfire in the end. Otherwise it's genuine Metallica. What really departed from the standards that the band themselves had established surely were the two loads of ... that James then squirted out mimicking Blues and Country. (The Memory Remains, though, is IMHO an underestimated pearl hidden among a heap of songs otherwise not worth mentioning.) Who would, at that time, have dared to imagine that far worse was yet to come? "St. Anger" stays true to its title and drives me so madly into anger that I cannot bear listening to it for longer than a few minutes. Compared to that, "Lulu" feels to me like an interestingly 'avantgarde' experiment whose gravest detriment is Lou Reed's voice. With the release of "Death Magnetic", however, the band won me over again. I agree that the songs are arranged in an irritating and confusing way. Whenever a riff or melody develops into something catchy that one wishes to hear more of, it is abruptly replaced by something unpleasant and it is gone, never ever to be repeated in that same song no matter how much one yearns for more of the good stuff. Apart from that, the songs are mostly within the upper tempo-range, the guitars roar heavily, and the lyrics are thoughtful and merit closer attention (the phrase "rise, fall down, and rise again" actually helped me get through a personal crisis). And I have no objection to the guitar-sound, apart from that loudness-war thing. In fact, the active pickup-sets specially designed for James and Kirk, respectively, are so good that I have them on some of my own guitars.

Now turning -- at last -- to "Hardwired", I can but confirm the overall impression. The first handful of songs on disc 1 positively peak out, then follows a row of songs that one would not miss if they weren't there (and that could as well have been released on a sort of "Beyond Hardwired" EP), and only the last song of disc 2 rises again to the quality the double-album had begun with. Those who purchased the 3-CD-set may or may not like King Of Summer, but to hear the old songs played live makes the 3rd disc a welcome addition to the other two. In comparison to "Death Magnetic" the tempo is slowed down quite a bit, but thank goodness it's still Metal, not Country or Blues. The riffing is less chaotic and the songs are structured a tad more organically. The lyrics feel like put together roughly, a swarm of buzzwords, phrases pounded out more than sentences that adhere to a chain of thought. James does limit his attempts at classical singing, and he sounds the better for that. Kirk was stolen his smart-phone with all his compositions on an airport, so we don't see him credited on any song for songwriting. His soloing is what it is and always was: technically impressive, super-fast fingering, occasionally at odds with the rhythm he is accompanying, and sometimes slightly out of tune (as it was long time ago in the intro to "One"). To be sure, I look up on him and I will never play only half as good as he does. All I say is that he's not absolutely perfect, either. Rob fits well into the rest of the band (so much better than Bob Rock on the bass) and one hopes that he is not subjected to the same kind of treatment that has driven Jason out of the band. It is hard to believe that he plays all that fast stuff not with a plec but with his bare fingers. And in a sense his playing style is rather grounded (as opposed to the melodically and harmonically meandering style of Cliff). Lars does a decent job on the drums, he is a bit slower than on "Death Magnetic", true, but this is nothing compared to the black album days when he could easily go fetch a beer in between the single strokes. So Metallica are back somehow. It's not exactly as in the old days, but, honestly, who would appreciate a band exactly repeating itself? The new songs are new, enjoyable and Metal. So much for that. Nevertheless, there is a slight feeling (or foreboding?) that the Metallica-train might in future make another weird turn at some railroad switch where nobody would have expected it. Meanwhile I feel quite comfortable with the present Metallica having regained a good deal of their former hardness and harshness. The good songs are as good as they are and will certainly rock future concerts. Moth Into The Flame live featuring Lady Gaga was awesome. More of that, please.
08.05.2018 - 10:21
Old Nick
Written by DispensatioN on 08.05.2018 at 06:51

long text

You should have submitted a review instead of just a comment.

I agree on all points apart from the one where you say the Black Album has grown on you over the years even though you hated it when it came out. I also hated it with passion when it came out and I still think it's a poor release, with only two good songs, Sad But True and Wherever I May Roam.
on and on south of heaven


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