Metallica - Hardwired...To Self-Destruct review
|Release date:||November 2016|
Disc I [CD]
02. Atlas, Rise!
03. Now That We're Dead
04. Moth Into Flame
05. Dream No More
06. Halo On Fire
Disc II [CD]
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.
||Written on 27.11.2016 by Reviewing since 2010. Reviewing competently since 2013. More metal than you since before the dawn of 'istry.|
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