Metallica Returns Ferociously on ‘Hardwired…To Self-Destruct’
Veteran metal band Metallica return ferociously only Hardwired…To Self-Destruct, their first new studio album in eight years (Death Magnetic, 2008).
It has been eight years since Metallica released a proper studio album. Eight years! After a lengthy wait, the metal veterans return with the highly anticipated Hardwired…To Self-Destruct. Does Metallica disappoint? Not in the least! Hardwired…To Self-Destruct gives 2016 one of, if not the best rock albums, without question.
“Hardwired” is electrifying from the start. The jagged, rhythmic riffs are a catalyst for head banging. Featuring a great bass line, the riff packs a mean punch throughout the record. Lightening quick speed makes the record both ambitious and utterly insane. Though the opener features few lyrics, those featured pack a punch, particularly the chorus:
“We’re so f*cked / shit out of luck / hardwired to self-destruct.”
Quite the adrenaline rush, “Hardwired” is alluring. The quick tempo is hella impressive and James Hetfield sounds passionate as hell.
“Atlas, Rise!” doesn’t miss a beat, opening with the utmost maliciousness. Jagged and biting, the instrumental conveys the spirit of metal at its most fruitful. Harmonized guitar, driving bass, and pummeling drums sound hellishly celestial. Throw in assertive vocals and “Atlas, Rise!” sounds like perfection exemplified. The chorus rocks hard:
“Die as you suffer in vain / Own all the grief and the pain / Die as you hold up the skies / Atlas, rise! / How does it feel on your own? / Bound by the world all alone / Crushed under heavy skies / Atlas, rise!”
“Now That We’re Dead”
Like “Atlas, Rise!” “Now That We’re Dead” takes time establishing itself. The instrumental intro lasts more than a minute-and-a-half. There’s no shame – musical excellence blesses the listener. Thematically, “Now That We’re Dead” covers plenty of ground. Love and death are prevalent, clearly connected on the choruses:
“All sinners, a future / All saints, a past / Beginning, the ending / Return to ash // Now that we’re dead, my dear / We can be together / Now that we’re dead, my dear / We can live, we can live forever.”
Throughout, lyrically, the song is oxymoronic – conflicting – mixing good and bad:
“When darkness falls, may it be / That we should see the light / When reaper calls, may it be / That we walk straight and right.”
“Now That We’re Dead” gives Metallica another winner without question.
“Moth into Flame”
“Addicted to the FAME!” Another pre-release gem, “Moth into Flame,” keeps the hits coming. About the effects and price of fame, Hetfield clearly philosophizes about the danger of fame and how ultimately, it’s not worth it. The style is direct throughout the course of the song, something that translate through the instrumental music and soloing as well. “Moth into Flame” is incredibly intense.
For “Dream No More,” Metallica shifts from fame to Cthulhu, a character courtesy of short-lived author H.P. Lovecraft. This isn’t the first-time Cthulhu has inspired the band. Given the dramatic approach by the band, they terrifically convey the terror of Cthulhu. “Halo on Fire” remains keyed-in, if a smidgen tamer than the songs that precede it (at times). Still, Hetfield roars on the chorus, highlighting the conflict of lightness and darkness.
The second half of Hardwired…To Self-Destruct opens with “Confusion” literally. The intro does a superb job of conveying the sentiment, channeling the symphonic poem. Lyrically, the confusion is legit as well:
“Confusion / All sanity is now beyond me / Delusion / All sanity is but a memory / My life, the war that never ends.”
A celestial intro kicks off “ManUNkind,” but the devilishness soon destroys any sense of heaven. “ManUNkind” has much of the confusion of the song the precedes it. Instead of tackling the debilitating effects of war, Hetfield and company take it back to Biblical days – specifically Adam and the Garden of Eden. Expectedly, the song is jagged and unsettled.
“Here Comes Revenge”
“Here Comes Revenge” is epic – rather, it continues the epic nature that characterizes the album as a whole. “Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth” adds more Biblical fare to the mix, following mention of Adam and the Garden of Eden in the previous record. The Biblical ties extend beyond Matthew 5:38. Before uttering the aforementioned, Hetfield proclaims, “He was Abel, I was Cain.” As the story goes, Cain kills his brother Abel because The Lord didn’t approve of his offering, but approve of Abel’s.
“Am I Savage?” has a twisted, funkiness about it – in the most metal way possible. The reference to Beauty and the Beast is spot-on:
“Faithful, as the full moon is rising / Beauty and the Beast are colliding.”
The intro of “Murder One” oscillates between gentler and more jagged passages. Of course, the end result is another hard-hitting, unapologetically glum number. This time it’s not Adam, The Garden of Eden, or Beauty and the Beast – it’s aces, from deck of cards.
“Aces wild / Aces high / All the aces / Aces ‘til you die.”
“Spit Out the Bone”
The standard double-disc edition of Hardwired concludes with the clever “Spit Out the Bone.” Murderous and ravenous, “Spit Out the Bone” pummels the life out of the listener early on. Super quick and relentless to the core, Hetfield and company clearly articulate their point.
“Long live machine / The future supreme / Man overthrown / Spit out the bone.”
Hetfield goes on to sing:
“Plug into me, I guarantee devotion / Plug into me and dedicate / Plug into me and I’ll save you from emotion / Plug into me and terminate / Accelerate, Utopian solution / finally cure the Earth of man…”
Sheesh! “Spit Out the Bone” goes with the pessimistic theme of the album, capping it off exceptionally.
Ultimately, Metallica comes back strong on Hardwired…To Self-Destruct. After an eight-year hiatus, the metal band sounds as epic and fiery as ever. Hardwired is among the most intriguing albums of 2016, filled with grit and never lacking epic moments. 4 Stars, easily.
Gems: “Hardwired,” “Atlas, Rise!” “Now That We’re Dead,” “Moth into Flame,” “Here Comes Revenge” & “Spit Out the Bone”