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Hardwired…to Self-Destruct

The thrash engine that was once the mighty Metallica has returned in a big way. Not only do you get that familiar chug from the heyday of the 80’s, but you also get some intelligent lyrics for a change. Gone are those silly songs like 2x4 and Invisible Kid, and are replaced by Moth Into Flame and Spit out the Bone. It seems Metallica have rediscovered the fire from within that once made them the giants of the thrash world, and it’s all been unleashed right here in Hardwired…to Self-Destruct.

Not only has the thrash engine been revived, but it’s pouring out a heap of aggression and meaty riffing; bringing back that defiant spirit from the days when they meant business. Hardwired won’t revolutionize the metal world, but it will at least cement the band’s legacy a bit; easing the minds of those who are worried about another St. Anger or even Load. You won’t find that style here; in fact the majority of these tracks could easily be slotted up against the Black Album and that is a good sign that Metallica have found their way back again to the top of the thrash podium.

I do want to point out that this isn’t an all-out return to Ride the Lightning or Master of Puppets; there’s still a lot of the modern sound of the band in these recordings – but what you get is a band embracing that youthful energy again and proving they can still deliver so many years later. After all, these thrashers are middle-aged men with wives and kids now, so to turn out a pure thrasher like “Spit out the Bone” is quite a feat.

But getting to the heart of it all is the lyrical nihilism found in the first track “Hardwired”. The song is a pure firecracker and it’s perfect as the opening salvo to let fans know the band is back doing what they do best. Your pulse will quicken and your head will snap to and fro; guaranteed to be a popular number in the mosh pits. It’s the shortest track here and it bridges nicely with blistering tracks like “Atlas, Rise!” and “Now That We’re Dead”. Then the engine chugs back up and “Moth Into Flame” pours it on, giving way to social commentary about the price of being famous. It’s a catchy number that burns in your brain and actually had me humming this little ditty long after I stopped listening to the album.

The next track that caught my attention was “Dream No More”; a nod to Master of Puppets in some respect, what with the dark sounding intro and also utilizing Lovecraft’s greatest creation (Cthulhu) for lyrical inspiration. I could even hear echoes of the James of old here, so I did my best to not lose my shit entirely. This was followed up with “Halo on Fire” which fuses the modern elements of Metallica mostly, but still keeping in line with the old vibrant thrash feel of the album. The track is also the longest song here clocking in just over eight minutes; including long section of classic rock soloing. Not the worst song of the lot, but not one that I am overly fond over. The relentless vibe of “Confusion” heard within the first minute or so, brings to mind the Black Album and some of the chug found on Justice.

Hardwired…to Self-Destruct
(Blackened Recordings)
Written by: Kenneth Gallant
9 out of 10

When we get to “Manunkind”, some of the lyrical cheesiness rears its ugly head for my tastes, despite the semi-pleasing bluesy vibe. This is the sort of thing you would have heard on Death Magnetic and one that didn’t grab me fully. The next few tracks that follow are a mixed bag: you can hear a thrasy-groove permeating though “Here Comes Revenge” and “Am I Savage” does its best to mimic a track like “Of Wolf and Man”, but doesn’t quite get there for me. “Murder One” also screams Black Album to me with its mid-paced sluggishness and semi-chug; not a bad track, but not really sticking with me.

But the final track to satiate my lust for classic thrash is answered in the form of “Spit out the Bone”. This just might be the best Metallica track I have heard in a very long time, what with the relentless chug and coupled with Lars’ frantic drumming; kick starting the mayhem full throttle. Obviously there are nods to Justice and the Black Album here and Kirk is on fire with the soloing; proving he can still shred with the best of them. I love how the solos are back and used in a big way for this track. They couldn’t have picked a better number to close out this stunning new release.

On a whole, Hardwired…to Self-Destruct may not win every old school thrash fan back into the fold, but I bet everyone is sitting up and taking notice right about now. I think most fans began their love affair again with the band when Death Magnetic showed that they could come back from a dreadful album like St. Anger. For me the album was good, but it was lacking something. Some say the production was lousy and others blamed Lars for his mediocre drumming. Personally, it was neither of those things for me, but rather it lacked the fiery spirit of their youth. Now I can finally say the band has written a proper Metallica album that rights a few wrongs over the last 15 years or so, giving us a chance to pump our fists and bang our heads proudly in the mosh pits once more.

Don’t be fooled though, this isn’t on par with Ride the Lighting or Master of Puppets, but you can slot this next to the Black Album and think it’s 1991 all over again. So I say metal up your ass and shout the name Metallica as boldly and loud as you can, ‘cause the band is back and in a big way!

Kenneth Gallant, HMS

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