Metallica
Hardwired... to Self-Destruct


2.0
poor

Review

by TheMoonchild USER (140 Reviews)
November 17th, 2016 | 38 replies


Release Date: 2016 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Ash to ash, dust to dust, fade to black.

It's almost the end of 2016, and Metallica have released a new album. It's nothing short of comical just how many people were not expecting to see that sentence typed at all this year, because Metallica have, equally as comically, come up with 8 years worth of excuses as to why there's been an 8-year gap between their new double album Hardwired... to Self Destruct and their previous release, Death Magnetic. Among the many reasons, we've gotten "we've made an album with Lou Reed", "we keep getting booked for festivals", "we came up with the idea for a 'By Request' tour", "Kirk lost his cell phone full of over 200 riff ideas", "we keep coming up with these new song ideas but they never pan out", and the list goes on and on. This wouldn't be so comical if the grand total of studio albums, since the turn of the millennium, amounted any more than 3- one of those albums including the infamously bad St. Anger. So while, on one hand, it's easy to admire Metallica fully embracing the "we're a business now" side of their career- which culminated in the band having their own indie label, Blackened Records- on the other hand, it's become way too convenient of an excuse for the lack of new music in recent times, not counting that album with Lou Reed.

So with the business side of things out of the way, it's probably no surprise that the first studio release from Metallica of the 2010s (and so far, seemingly the only one) comes in the form of a double album, titled Hardwired... to Self Destruct. Said announcement was met with a mixed reception from the fans- one side of the fanbase was happy to finally have new music from Metallica, and the other side seemed to shake their heads, with the mindset of "uh-oh, they continue to lack self-censorship" taking the hold. Not making matters better was the lead single "Hardwired", which not being anything drastically different from what one would expect from Metallica, was met with an equally mixed reception. While the lead single isn't exactly awful or toxic, and it's impressive that it's a 3-minute thrasher rather than the 9-minute snoozefests they've been releasing since 2000, the problems that come with a new Metallica album are still on display- namely, repetition, James' worsening voice and juvenile lyrics ("We're so ***ed/*** out of luck/Hardwired to self-destruct") among others. And it's also unfortunately an indicator of what you can expect- alright riffs, marred by terrible production, lackluster performance and third grader-tier lyrics.

Now, I'd be lying if I said this album was completely void of anything good. On one hand, there's some truly stellar riffs and occasional outbursts of musicianship where the band complement each other brilliantly- for one, people who have been frustrated at Lars' infamously mediocre "cymbals and snare" style of drumming will be delighted that for once, he uses his toms a few times on the album. The best example, and probably the most obvious, is in the intro to "Now That We're Dead". It's a mid-tempo tune that is rather unremarkable, yet has two unexpectedly remarkable instances of drumming from Lars. Additionally, "Atlas, Rise!" has a cool intro and some Maidenesque guitar harmonies, which are impressive even if the band leans on them a bit too much and uses them as an excuse to pad the song out. Additionally, the album comes with two songs that remind us of just how brilliant Metallica has a tendency to be sometimes- "ManUNkind", and "Spit Out the Bone". Cringe-worthy title aside, "ManUNkind" sees Metallica tapping in to their more progressive-oriented side, with shifting tempos and time signatures a-plenty, and some pretty killer riffs- for one, the song's intro boasts an impressively bluesy bass and guitar pairing playing a gorgeous melody that's completely unexpected from a band like them, and while short, it does give you time to ready for the doomy chords that come your way shortly. The song isn't unlike anything from Load, but it manages to accomplish what many feel that album didn't. While it won't boast any life-changing lyrics (try not to listen too hard or you'll hear "Blind, lead blind/Quest to find/Faith in man, unkind"), it's a rare instance of Metallica trying something new and it actually working. Even better yet, album closer "Spit Out the Bone" is as close to classic Metallica as the band is likely to come, showing the band playing furiously giving their up-to-11 in every aspect, delivering both the heaviness and excellent riffs required to achieve "classic" status. Even better, it achieves that without trying to pander to such a crowd. And you even get to hear Rob's bass for once!

The problem is, these few moments listed in the above paragraph are all the album truly has to offer. The rest of the album displays either good ideas and nothing more, or cringe-worthy/overlong/repetitive/all of the above compositions. So, taking the album's double format in mind, disc 1 is without a doubt some of the most unremarkable music Metallica has put forth in a while. "Dream No More", for one, is a completely baffling track that will have even the more devoted Metallica fan scrambling to check their copy to make sure they didn't accidentally get a disc of St. Anger demos. I can safely say without fear of exaggeration that this song is worryingly reminiscent of any St. Anger cut, be it the pseudo-doomy opening chords, the plodding and dull main riff, the cringe-worthy dual-layered vocals throughout the song, the unjustified 6.5 minute length, or even the lyrics of "Sanity taken/seething damnation/Cthulhu awaken/wake, winged salvation". You could put this track on St. Anger and it would fit right in almost effortlessly. While this is thankfully the only song reminiscent of that dreaded album, the rest isn't much better. "Moth Into Flame" comes off like something too mediocre to make it onto Death Magnetic, and "Halo on Fire" is a bloated and agonizingly dull mid-tempo track that just trudges around without ever truly picking up or becoming brilliant.

Disc 2 , on the other hand, is better, but that isn't saying by much. It contains the two great tracks I listed, but between them are a whole other set of missed opportunities. "Confusion" welcomes the listener with an opening riff that almost comes off like a metal version of Gustav Holst's "Mars, Bringer of War", but it unfortunately never lives up to the false promise its intro makes us, with the song soon devolving into another unremarkable mid-tempo snoozer, and its cringe-worthy chorus certainly doesn't help matters, be it James' audibly strained vocals or the lyrics ("Confusion/All sanity is now beyond me" among others. "Am I Savage?" and "Here Comes Revenge" effortlessly blend into each other and cease to become anything resembling memorable or catchy, despite the latter's chorus' attempts to shake things up, and probably the most infuriating of these missed opportunities is "Murder One", the Lemmy tribute which begins well enough with an intro vaguely reminiscent of "Fade to Black", but squanders its potential, both by making the Lemmy shout-outs about as subtle as a brick to the face (the chorus is basically as if they had a bunch of random Motorhead lyrics set out in front of them and James picked four while blindfolded) and by being yet another mid-tempo tune indistinguishable from the rest.

So with exactly two songs managing to stand out as being anything resembling remarkable or great, Metallica aren't doing themselves any favour, nor are they going to win back any fans who jumped ship a long time ago. It's hard to tell exactly who this album is for- it doesn't have enough of the 80s' albums power to appeal to the 80s fans, it doesn't have the catchiness required to those who like the 90s material, and even fans of Death Magnetic will feel as though they've heard what's presented on these two discs few too many times before, with the issues of new Metallica all too glaring. On e hand, it's easy to accept that Metallica do, for better or for worse, deserve a good chunk of the usual "It's Metallica, man!" flattery that predates the release of a new Metallica record, because there's a handful of great riffs on display, and no doubt are they going to sound stellar live. But one can't help but sense Metallica trying to compensate for the lack of freshness in recent times with fast tempos and E tuning. On one hand, while it's great to see they care about bringing the heaviness back to their music, it's truly a shame to see them approach it while bearing the grace of a senile war veteran, telling some probably made-up story to their bored grandchild for the umpteenth time.

And that's exactly the problem with Metallica of new: it's not Metallica, rather a Metallica replacement service. Both Hardwired and Magnetic only seem to exist to make up for that 8-year stretch of non-heavy or pseudo-heavy music. From the use of the classic font, to the introduction of bass virtuoso Rob Trujillo into the band, to the constant use of long songs, fast tempos and predominant E tuning, it's becoming too obvious that Metallica seem to only have past glories to live on. The difference being those past glories were at least creative, and this attempt to recapture to them isn't doing them any favours but keeping the Metallica concert machine steadily trundling on. Ah well, at least the concert tour supporting this album will be a fun time.



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user ratings (1433)
3.2
good
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • Trey STAFF (3.5)
    Metallica stop trying to please everyone else, and release an album that embodies where th...

    Ocean of Noise (3.5)
    If “Death Magnetic” proved that Metallica could still write songs, “Hardwired…To S...

    Ebola (2)
    Third-rate thrash for all the boys and girls...

    DrJohn (2)
    But, Lars, I did go to my computer and hit the button 'Find my iPhone,' and it tracked it ...

  • StrizzMatik (3.5)
    Jesus, that cover...

    Marc6 (4)
    ...

    cardonaj (3)
    Metallica comes up short in an attempt to reclaim their former glory...

    Insurrection (3)
    An overlong but gleefully energetic sequel to Death Magnetic....


Comments:Add a Comment 
TheMoonchild
November 17th 2016


1197 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Metallica are debuting this album online in an... um, interesting fashion. They're releasing music videos for every song on a different news outlet. I'm not gonna spend an hour going and searching for every link but so far 9/12 songs are up (the last at 4 AM EST).



List on Blabbermouth here: http://www.blabbermouth.net/news/metallica-to-unleash-music-videos-for-every-song-on-hardwiredto-self-destruct-today-and-tomorrow/



I wrote this review last Saturday. With every listen I've tried as hard to de-rant it, and while it's still slightly ranty, I do feel the bits I kept are what illustrate this album best.

cman23kid
November 17th 2016


28 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Pos. Noteworthy album for being their first work in years, however it's not groundbreaking or revolutionary. I do admire that it feel like more energy was put into this album and, from the 9-10 songs i've heard so far, it's their best work released in the 21st century.

TheMoonchild
November 17th 2016


1197 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

It's better than Death Magnetic, but that really isn't saying much!

TVC15
November 17th 2016


10263 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Rating and review is correct. Shame cos I quite liked DM and 2 of the 3 singles

Digging: Medicine - 5ive [Come Here to Drink Milk]

TheMoonchild
November 17th 2016


1197 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Honestly, what is with the song lengths on this album? Several times on both discs I checked my iTunes player thinking I was on Track 6 only to be shocked to find I was STILL only on track 4. While I may sound biased or closed minded, there are 4 bands I give a free pass with regards to 7-8 minute tracks nowadays, Iron Maiden, Tool, Opeth and Steven Wilson, and that's because of something called "interestingness". 7-8 minutes of verse/chorus/verse/chorus/verse/chorus/verse/chorus really is not acceptable at all.

TVC15
November 17th 2016


10263 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Dude you should hear Vektor's new album

TheMoonchild
November 17th 2016


1197 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Just listening to Pillars of Sand. Cool track so far. Will definitely have to add this album to my list.

TVC15
November 17th 2016


10263 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Pillars of Sand is just the tip of the iceberg. There's a reason that album used to be at a 4.6 avg for several weeks on Sput

Kusangii
November 17th 2016


2530 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Production aside, I thought Death Magnetic was more fun than this. This would probably have turned out way better if it was a single album. Lars is also so laughably lazy it hurts

Sinternet
November 17th 2016


21130 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

wtf with all those negs this was a pretty good review

Digging: Vi Som Alskade Varandra Sa Mycket - Det Onda. Det Goda. Det Vackra. Det Fula.

TheMoonchild
November 17th 2016


1197 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I will say I dug the first two tracks on DM... and then it went downhill from there.

TVC15
November 17th 2016


10263 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Yeah Scott's/MoonChild's negative reviews seem to garner much more negs than they deserve

Kusangii
November 17th 2016


2530 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Yeah wtf, are butthurt fanboys raging or what? Nothing wrong with the review. Pos'd

TheMoonchild
November 17th 2016


1197 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

To be fair I do tend to rant a bit.

RLWFormula
November 17th 2016


287 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

so this doesn't riff hard?

Kusangii
November 17th 2016


2530 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

At times it does but not enough imo

Snide
November 17th 2016


7050 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Album is about as entertaining as watching paint dry.

Titan
November 17th 2016


20017 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

enjoy a pos Scott, good review.....but damn bro do you really dig disc 2 better than disc 1?

SleepApnea15
November 17th 2016


13 Comments


It's probably no masterpiece but likely better than you dildos say it is.

TheMoonchild
November 17th 2016


1197 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Dildos. Yep.



TITAN- I wouldn't if those two songs weren't on it. :P



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