8 years. Jesus. That’s the same length of time as Barack Obama’s two-term administration. That’s the entire lifespan of an 8 year old child. That’s too goddamn long between albums, is what it is. Yes, Hetfield, Ulrich, Hammett and Trujillo have finally returned with a new album – Hardwired…to Self Destruct. We all know, given their rarity of appearance on the new release rack* that a new Metallica album is somewhat of an event – the hype for this album appears to be off the charts. So much so that even the online haters seem to have disappeared for the most part – one can only assume that they’ve all died from syphilis.
The pre-album singles have been coming fast and furious for almost two months now, and the last 24 hours in particular (it is 5pm on November 17 as of this writing) has seen a particularly strong Blitzkrieg of activity with a video for each song on the album being released every few hours. It was a curious decision, but hey – we’re here to review the album, not the marketing strategies. So the question that immediately pops into your bulbous little heads is “is it worth the wait?” Well, the answer is “shut up. Don’t be a hater”.
Ok, that’s not really the answer, but it would make for an excellent conversation starter. HtSD is indeed a fine album – 12 songs spread over two discs for approximately 88 minutes of music. The quantity over quality question is one that seems to plague the band with each new release and this one should be no different. The quality is most certainly there. Title track “Hardwired” blasts through the speakers like it’s collecting on a debt. A cooker of a tune that was written only at the last moment to open the album. It’s everything we’ve come to love about Metallica. Fast, crisp, tasty riffs and you can almost feel Hetfield’s spit in your ear.
What’s immediately evident as the album progresses through “Atlas, Rise!” and “Now That We’re Dead” is that Ulrich’s drum sound has never sounded better. Ever. It sounds huge (or yuge, in the parlance of our times). Rubin couldn’t get it right on 2008’s Death Magnetic, nor could Rock or Rasmussen. But finally, someone got it right. And that someone is producer Greg Fidelman, who’s done a fantastic job on all counts here.
One thing that seems somewhat curious, however, is the sequencing. Mid-to-slower-tempo numbers clumped seemingly arbitrarily with quick-paced bookends. This is a small complaint, however when you’re dealing with tracks like “Halo on Fire”, which closes the first disc. Holy lord, what an epic scorcher – an aforementioned slower number that, if there’s any Justice, will be the new epic show closer on the new tour.
Disc two opens with “Confusion”, who’s intro is very reminiscent of the band’s classic cover of Diamond Head’s “Am I Evil?”. The disc continues on through tracks like “Here Comes Revenge” and “Murder One”, a beautiful tribute to Lemmy that I guarantee would have put a smile on that one-of-a-kind face. Rounding out the album is “Spit Out The Bone” – one of the album’s highlights. Drivers beware – this is most definitely one of those songs that’ll have you pushing on that pedal without even realizing it. Forward all speeding tickets to Marin County, California c/o Mr. Hetfield. Hardwired…to Self Destruct is not necessarily a new standard of excellence in the band’s catalog, but Metallica still manage to sound more vital and capable than 90% of heavy music being played by bands half their age. Let’s just hope they release another album before the next Supermoon.
*Look it up, kids
8.2 / 10
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