Let’s play a game.
1, 2, 2, 3, 5, 1, 6, 5, 8.
Does that mean anything to you?
It’s not some kind of messed up Fibonacci sequence, it’s the years between Metallica studio albums.
So, yes, it’s been quite a while since Death Magnetic (for obvious reasons we won’t even think about the atrocity they recorded with Lou Reed).
And speaking of Death Magnetic, Hardwired…to Self Destruct picks up more or less where that album left off.
It’s time to accept that the hey days of thrash metal as it once was are well behind us and that this is the sound of Metallica now.
It’s not a bad sound either. While comparisons to their last studio album are inevitable, Hardwired…to Self Destruct sounds like that but better. The production is much improved. The drums no longer sound like they were recorded over the phone and all elements of the band are audible – even the bass which is now integral in post-Newsted times. The riffs are big and bold, the vocals are melodic and shouty and Hammet’s solos are as widdly as ever.
Hardwired..to Self Destruct is a double album containing almost 80 minutes of new music. You can’t accuse Metallica of ripping off fans in that respect. They could have recorded it all, decide to call it something like Use Your Delusion and released two albums on the same day if they’d wanted to (apparently there were 20 songs in total, 8 of which didn’t make the cut), so all credit to them for that.
And are Metallica the first band to release three singles before an album comes out? They might well be, but fans were hungry after an 8 year recording hiatus.
The album opens with the first of these, Hardwired. If you haven’t heard this, why not? It starts off like a metal march and quickly gives way to classic, muscular, Hetfieldian riffage. This is the shortest song on the whole album, clocking in at a little over three minutes. It could easily have been longer without becoming boring.
The other two singles, Moth into the Flame and Atlas, Rise! are also found on disc one. They might not be quite as up to the task as the title (well, almost) track, but they’re still excellent examples of now-era Metallica.
Bands will always sound like themselves and here we have a shining example. Now That We’re Dead reminds a little of Of Wolf and Man at the start. Odd as the rest of the song is nothing like it. There’s a groovy riff and Lars seems to be eschewing the lazy drumming he’s recently settled into with a bit of double kick drum.
Dream No More is a slow chugger and Halo on Fire is a horns-in-the-air all metal offering, with a little Unforgiven-esque stuff chucked in too.
That brings the first disc to a close.
Confusion opens disc two and starts off a bit like Am I Evil? before the Hetfield riff-fest continues.
ManUNkind has some great bass work at the start – it is the only song on the album that Rob Trujillo is credited with so it’s hardly a surprise – and it’s pretty mosh-worthy.
Here Comes Revenge and Am I Savage? are by-numbers Metallica songs. This isn’t a direct criticism, but there is absolutely no mistaking who it is. If you asked someone to create a typical Metallica-sounding song there’s a good chance they’d come up with either of these.
Murder One sounds a bit Fade to Black at the start, but don’t be fooled. This ain’t no ballad. It’s skull-crushingly heavy and is the kind of song which will be a moshpit favourite.
The best might well have been saved for last in the shape of Spit out the Bone. It’s by far the fastest and most thrash-like offering in the whole 80 minutes. It’s very Damage Inc. in places which no die-hard Metallifan will object to.
If you like your thrash old school then you may not be that impressed by this album, but if you imagine for a minute that Metallica formed in 1992 then this would easily be their best ever album.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
Now That We’re Dead
Moth into Flame
Dream No More
Halo on Fire
Here Comes Revenge
Am I Savage?
Spit out the Bone
Release date: 18th November
Label: Blackened Records