Label: Universal Music Group
Genre: Heavy Metal
Release Date EU: November 18, 2016
- Atlas, Rise!
- Now That We’re Dead
- Moth Into Flame
- Am I Savage?
- Halo On Fire
- Dream No More
- Here Comes Revenge
- Murder One
- Spit Out The Bone
With a new Metallica album, it’s like with a new iPhone. Both are connected to a strong brand (yes, I would say Metallica is a brand and a band in the meantime) that has an exciting history by creating something that was new and revolutionary in its day. Apple turned the digital world partly upside down and Metallica did the same when it comes to metal. The ‘fathers’ of thrash metal released with their first three records some milestones in music history, classics that are timeless and still spread their fascination up to today.
Based on all this, expectations are very high when something new is announced. However, there isn’t really clear what is to expect and also what can be expected stays blurry. Especially when it comes to Metallica things get even more interesting knowing that the last releases at least got some diverse feedback and have been partly disappointments, not even thinking about the album they did with the legendary Lou Reed.
A few songs of the new album have been published already earlier as downloads and video clips. These tracks made a good impression and fueled the expectations for a new, wild and furious Metallica album.
Today is the moment when the rubber hits the road – showtime. “Hardwired … to Self-Destruct” hits the shelves and after having heard it a couple of times so far I must say that it belongs to the best stuff I’ve heard from the band in this century. It feels like the band found back to their roots, leaving all the experiments behind and focus on thrash metal again.
The new long player starts brave and fast. The three minutes long title track is an awesome opener that hits bull’s eye. Solos are back, there aren’t any experiments and in the end, it’s raw energy that’s spread.
Also the next three tracks, ”Atlas, Rise!”, the slowly creeping “Now That We’re Dead” and the up-tempo “Moth Into Flame”, are coming without any frills. It’s the riffs, the groove, and the heaviness, that’s what stands in focus. The four-piece from San Francisco created songs that include more than one’s cross-references to the early day’s long players by being straight to the point. Merciless riffs are dominating the scene supported by a rhythm section that’s firing on all cylinders, something that makes each of the tracks to real headbangers.
With all this, a more silent song is needed too. “Halo on Fire” is its name and it’s a power ballad that reminds of “Until it Sleeps”.
With all the positive there are two moments as well when the four-piece falls back into the patterns of the latest releases. “Am I Savage?” is one of them. Even after a few times listening to this tune it still doesn’t work. It feels fragmented and missing the flow that’s so present in most of the other tracks. The same goes for “ManUNkind”, a number that also doesn’t belong to the highlights on the newest output.
The good thing though is, that it’s only these two tracks, while the rest is a pure pleasure for metalheads. And the fact that “Hardwired…to Self-Destruct” closes with the high speed “Spit Out the Bone” gives every listener a last good impression. The tune is a remarkable grand finale of an album that presents the band in a good mood, with a good sound and (mostly) very good songs.
In the end “Hardwired…to Self-Destruct” covers 30 years of Metallica with a tendency towards the earlier days, all reflected in 80 minutes of entertaining metal music.
Again, it’s like with an iPhone. You might expect rocket-science, but in the end, it’s the early trademarks that have been further developed to a next level and that’s, I guess, what most of the fans appreciate.
Reviewer: Markus Wiedenmann