Last week, thrash metal legends, Metallica, released their tenth full length studio album, “Hardwired… to Self-Destruct”, which is their first full length album since 2008’s “Death Magnetic”. Personally, I’m not a massive, avid fan of Metallica, however, they are the first ever metal band I listened to and became a fan of, and the releases I do enjoy are very important to me. So with the announcement of a new Metallica album to be released in 2016, my anticipation and excitement for new material was very high. Although, if you are familiar with Metallica’s discography, then you will know that the California based metal act has had some questionable releases in the post-“The Black Album” era. So my excitement for new material would greatly depend on how the record’s singles sounded. Thankfully, these singles exceeded expectations! The three singles, “Hardwired”, “Moth Into Flame”, and “Atlas, Rise!” were phenomenal tracks and only increased how much I was looking forward to hearing the rest of the project!
When you first listen to “Hardwired… to Self-Destruct” the first thing you will notice is that this is probably the best production a Metallica album has seen in literally decades. Albums like “St. Anger” and “Death Magnetic”, which were the two releases prior to “Hardwired…”, feature some of the worst production quality in Metallica’s career. Everything from how the drums were recorded to the mix and mastering of the entire album overall were terrible and at some points unbearable. On “Hardwired…”, the exact opposite is seen. The drums, especially the tight, bone-snapping snare sound, are recorded perfectly and the distorted guitars and bass tracks sound amazing. The vocals sound powerful, well mixed, and most importantly, in tune. Overall, the great production quality allows the album to sound like a successful modern day thrash metal record, and in return makes the whole release more enjoyable.
The songwriting exemplified on the new Metallica album is ridiculously good as well. The entire album is full with catchy, memorable tracks that sound like great, classic thrash metal songs. Chugging, head-banging worthy riffs are simply powerful, especially with stellar vocals. Tracks like “Now That We’re Dead” and “Halo On Fire” are perfect examples of this and are reminiscent to their older sound heard in the mid to late 80s. Even tracks like “Atlas, Rise!” and “Murder One” are instant classics and should be praised as some of their best tracks in their extensive catalog. If you are a fan of the mind-numbing guitar solos from lead guitarist, Kirk Hammett, then you will love this album as it is full with solos of his, like the extremely impressive solo heard on “Murder One”. Overall, there are only two songs that personally I thought were just ok or decent songs on the record, but there is still over an hour of amazing material off this two disc record. Besides the fact that there are only two decent songs, “Hardwired… to Self-Destruct” is mostly fast tempo, in your face, classic thrash metal with some great, short, melodic breaks in between the hard-hitting riffs and catchy choruses. There is rarely a dull moment throughout “Hardwired… to Self-Destruct”, which keeps the listener attentive and into the album despite the fact that it is well over an hour in length!
In conclusion, this is one of the best Metallica albums in literally decades. The record features all the classic, widely praised aspects of Metallica that make their old releases so phenomenal. It’s important to not listen to this album thinking it will be as good as the legendary releases like “The Black Album, “Master of Puppets”, or even “…And Justice For All”, considering the fact that these are some of the greatest metal albums of all time, but “Hardwired… to Self-Destruct” is still a remarkable album and is for sure their greatest release in the post-“The Black Album” era. I give “Hardwired… to Self-Destruct” an 8.5/10 and highly encourage anyone, regardless of their opinion on Metallica, to give it a listen! The Youtube playlist for the album is attached below to view and make sure to check back in this weekend for more reviews and other music content!