sun 05/12/2021

CD: Metallica - Hardwired… To Self-Destruct | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Metallica - Hardwired… To Self-Destruct

CD: Metallica - Hardwired… To Self-Destruct

Metal's masters return with a powerful, but patchy, double

“One thing there's not is the big Metallica ballad – it's all pretty uppity,” said Lars Ulrich of Hardwired… to Self-Destruct, Metallica’s first album for the best part of a decade. If we ignore, for a moment, the Trump-esque grasp of language and assume he meant uptempo rather than arrogant, the drummer appears to be a master of understatement as soon as opener “Hardwired” tears out of the gate, all rabid intent and sweary barking.

It’s a tempo that you’d imagine would be difficult to keep up for a group that’s made up of, in the main, men in their 50s, and you’d be right. So, after the rugged riffing and impeccable precision of “Atlas, Rise!”, things slow down and get even heavier – much like men in their 50s. The impressive, progressive slow chug of “Now That We’re Dead”, however, proves to be little more than a pit-stop as “Moth into Flame” goes through the gears with little consideration for the clutch, pausing only to allow a surprisingly considered vocal melody a chance to jump in.

The riffs throughout the first CD are inspired

The playing is perfect – precise and on point. Not that you’d expect anything else from Metallica who, even when they’re off their game (2008’s Death Magnetic, for instance), still eclipse most other metal bands. The riffs throughout the first CD are inspired and as dense and dark as you could hope for.

The second disc, however, is where things start to unravel slightly – much like men in their 50s. Simply stated, there’s a marked dip in quality as promising intros give way to disappointing songs; it’s like being given the keys to the city and then finding out that the city in question is Milton Keynes. The furious thrash of “Spit out the Bone” excepted, there could – and should – have been much more considered editing here.

That’s not to say Hardwired… isn’t good. In fact, if the best of what’s here had been presented on one disc, it could lay claim to be the best material the band has put out in a quarter of a century. As it is, it needs to lose some ballast… much like men in their 50s. 


Overleaf: watch the video to "Moth into Flame"

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