Album Review: METALLICA Hardwired…To Self Destruct

Photo: Herring & Herring
Photo: Herring & Herring

Last week, Metallica released Hardwired…To Self Destruct, their long awaited follow up to 2008’s Death Magnetic. This album is 77 minutes of pure, thrashing Metallica. Here is a track by track breakdown of all 12 songs:

Hardwired – This was the last song written for the album and the first single that was released. This song gave fans a glimpse as to what was coming and is a great lead-off track for this album. This track has some elements that remind me of Whiplash from their debut album, Kill ‘Em All and has already become a fan favorite.

Atlas, Rise – This is a standout track on the album and has a great, anthemic feel. Coming in at six and a half minutes, this song has everything that makes up a classic Metallica song: dual harmony guitars, memorable riffs, a phenomenal wah drenched solo, and speed. Of all the songs on the album, this song encapsulates the band’s NWOBHM roots and will definitely be one of those songs that always make the set.

Now That We’re Dead – This song is more groove oriented than the previous two and is a great change of pace. Another track over the six minute mark, this one is a head bobber with Trujillo and Ulrich holding down the rhythm while the guitars added a perfect layer atop this groovin’ track. This reminded me of a song that could’ve fit in well on Load or Reload, but still works on this album.

Moth Into Flame – Fast. Riffy. Catchy. Those were my initial thoughts after hearing this song. This was the second release made available and is another song that will go over well live. There overall feel reminded me of Seek and Destroy and the song’s melody will get stuck in your head, same with the chorus.

Dream No More – This is another groove based song that reminded me of Cyanide with it’s structure and lyrics. When Hetfield screams “You, turn to stone,” I immediately pictured kids in the front row of a show shouting that back at him, fists raised and taking in every moment. This is another track over the six minute mark and one of the few that have a solo without Hammett’s signature wah tone.

Halo On Fire – This epic song is one of my favorites on the album. This song could’ve easily been titled Unforgiven IV with it’s dynamics and structure. This 8 minute song is the halfway point of this double album and I believe is Hetfield’s best vocal performance. The vocals on the album feel more upfront in the mix and this song highlights that aspect. There’s a great rhythm change midway through that takes this track to the next level and it ends with an explosive solo that showcases Hammett’s prowess along the fretboard.

Confusion – This is another head bobbing song with a groove that will hit you to the core. There are a number of great riffs on this track and there’s a reason why Hetfield has “Riff Life” tattooed on his fingers. “Coming home from war, pieces don’t fit anymore” is one of the most memorable lyrics on this album and come from this track about dealing with PTSD.

ManUNkind – My immediate thought when hearing the opening notes of this track was The Thing That Should Not Be from Master of Puppets. This is a great song filled with some great off time rhythms and another great solo with Hammett putting his wah pedal through its paces.

Here Comes Revenge – This track opens with a dissonant roar from Hammett’s guitar and immediately grabs your attention. There is a tribal feel to this song and it reminded me of what would be playing during some sort of ancient ceremony. The main riff of the song is really cool and the guitar work on this track is notable. This song features one of the best solos on the album and will definitely be one that will be talked about for a while.

Am I Savage? – This is the most nontraditional Metallica song on Hardwired…To Self Destruct. It has a slower feel than the other songs, but still retains all of the power that you’d expect from this legendary band. There are some great dual guitar leads that would make any Maiden or Priest fan happy.

Murder One – This is a fitting tribute to Lemmy Kilmister who passed away last December. The song is named after one of his Marshall amps and features lyrics comprised of Lemmy’s own lyrics from famous Motorhead songs. Though I would’ve expected it to be a little faster, it’s a great song and has a great, frenetic solo befitting of any Motorhead song.

Spit Out The Bone – The album finishes with the same type of breakneck speed that it began with. This is an outstanding song and one that I hope will included and remain in their set for years to come. There’s a Disposable Heroes feel to this track and the fact that they can keep that elevated tempo going for over 7 minutes is impressive. This song, along with Atlas, Rise and Here Comes Revenge feature some of the best solos on the album.

There is a lot to digest on this album; the riffs, the lyrics, and the solos are all impressive and what we’ve come to expect from this band. As an added touch, they’ve released music videos for each song with very interesting visual interpretations. The videos for Halo On Fire, Am I Savage?, and  Spit Out The Bone being the most notable. They have outdone themselves with their musicianship and I can’t wait to see them play these songs played live.

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