Hardwired...To Self-Destruct review by Metallica

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  • Released: Nov 18, 2016
  • Sound: 8
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8 Superb
  • Users' score: 7.8 (197 votes)
Metallica: Hardwired...To Self-Destruct
19

Sound — 8
Let me kick off this review with a startling revelation. This is only bassist Robert Trujillo's second full-length studio album with the band (he joined prior to the release of "St. Anger," but was not involved in the recording process), and third if you count "Lulu." Having joined in February 2003, this means he's been a member of the band nearly as long (as of this writing) as former bassist Jason Newsted, who joined mere months after this author was born, and featured on four studio albums of original material along with a double-album of covers ("Garage Inc.") and a critically-acclaimed live album with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra ("S&M"), as well as an EP and a few B-sides and soundtrack tunes. That's not to diminish Trujillo's contributions to the band (who have been on tour for nearly the entirety of the eight-year gap since 2008's "Death Magnetic," visiting all seven continents in that time), but it does quite a bit to highlight how slow the band has gotten at releasing new albums. 

Eight years is a very long wait.

Let's back up a bit to "Death Magnetic," veteran newcomer (that's a thing, right?) Trujillo's first studio album with the band. Hot on the heels of 2003's "St. Anger," a highly divisive album that saw the band return to heavier music but by way of downtuning, removing guitar solos, and adopting a new memetic snare drum sound, this album was touted as a "return to form" for Metallica, and for the most part, delivered on this promise. Thrashy guitar riffs, pounding double-bass drums, the return of Kirk Hammett's guitar solos, and some of the best thrash-inspired Metallica work since at least the early 1990s. The only issues I took with the album were, more obviously, the mastering, which caused me to go through many a pair of cheap headphones due to how clipped everything was, and secondly, Kirk Hammett's guitar solos, which sounded like the palest attempts to reinvent his guitar playing he could have mustered. But still, on the whole, a slight return to form. An EP of leftovers, "Beyond Magnetic," would prove to have better production, but musically is just a continuation from the full album.

In the eight years since Metallica released "Death Magnetic," one would have expected a lot of musical evolution, but on first listen, "Hardwired...To Self-Destruct" mostly follows in its predecessor's footsteps. Opening with the track "Hardwired," it's maybe the album's biggest deviation from the form, as it's a punchy, short high-tempo, high-energy blazing metal track. Clocking in at three minutes, it may be one of the shortest Metallica songs since their self-titled 1991 album (known as "The Black Album"), and it's full of thrashy punk-rock attitude. Its blistering tempo, short and punchy structure, and near-shouted vocals give it a feel unlike anything in Metallica's catalogue in decades (yes, that's a plural), and it's the perfect way to open the album. Ironically, this was the final song written and recorded for the album. "Atlas, Rise!" brings in some NWOBHM-esque harmony guitar parts, and chugs along at a nice steady pace, with a sound that would have fit perfectly on "Death Magnetic." Much like "Death Magnetic," there really seems to be a lot of ties to the band's previous albums throughout the album, and there are moments like "Atlas, Rise!" that feel like it could have fit perfectly between "Justice"-era Metallica and "Black Album"-era stuff. "Now That We're Dead" opens with double-bass drumming and a slower, groovy riff that'll certainly please fans of the "Black Album," with a melodicism in the vocals that almost recalls the "Load/Reload" era.

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Now, reminiscing about "Load" and "Reload" might seem like a bit of a dangerous thing to Metallica fans who haven't quite gotten over those albums, but to be honest, the qualities from those albums they've picked to represent are some of the more positive ones. Case in point: the really good vocal harmonies in the chorus of "Moth Into Flame." It's a tune that's heavy as anything Metallica's done, but super catchy, and not in a cheesy or contrived way. "Dream No More" is a doomy track that's almost reminiscent of "Sad But True" with a few hints of classic metal like Black Sabbath and some of Pantera's slower material. It's probably the heaviest groove on the album, and feels like the kind of tune that Metallica hasn't tried in a long time. It's definitely the most headbangable tune they've done in a long time. The harmony guitars after the solo are a real highlight, as well, and it's probably the most refreshing song on the album. "Halo on Fire" is the longest track on the album, at just over eight minutes, and feels almost like the most progressive thing on the album, with its heavy and harmonized intro riff morphing into a clean part that's really gorgeous, almost uncharacteristically so for the band. There are powerful chorus vocal harmonies, and big riffs, and one of the more interesting Kirk Hammett solos on the album. In terms of structure and playing, this is probably one of the most progressive on the album, though it's most definitely not in the same vein as "...And Justice For All," being more like a thrashier version of something like "The Outlaw Torn" from "Load."

Disc two opens with the galloping "Confusion," another track which would have fit in perfectly on "Death Magnetic" (are we beginning to sense a theme here?). By this point, tracks like these seem almost kind of unremarkable, though still good. The near-monotony is broken by the intro of "ManUNkind" which is a lovely bass/guitar duet (almost as pretty as the intro to "Damage Inc.") that launches into a shuffle-rhythm tune with a really wicked groove. The song's structure almost seems to lack any identifiable verse-chorus-verse structure, hinting at another sort of progressive feel. "Here Comes Revenge" is another sort of uncharacteristically melodic tune for the band, with a bit of a "Load/Reload"-meets-"Death Magnetic" sound, but still kind of goes back to a bit of that monotonous sound that starts to creep in on the second disc. "Am I Savage?" starts with a deceptively light intro, before launching into a shapeshifting mess of time signatures with a shuffle-rhythm riff. Again, the comparisons to "Black Album" to "Load" are all over this track, but on a rhythmic level, this is probably the band's most interesting song, shifting between a shuffle feel and a straight-8th note feel many times. The band takes the rhythmic shifting to nearly prog-metal levels, and it's a good doomy track much like "Dream No More," and is definitely a highlight of the second disc.

"Murder One" features a riff that's almost straight out of "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" and a good driving riff through the verses. Kirk Hammett opens his solo on the track with a blistering scale run that's unlike anything else he's played on the album. It's a good driving heavy track, but with its slow tempo, it belies its status as second-shortest song on the album and sounds like it's dragging on a bit longer. The final track on the album, "Spit Out the Bone," sort of bookends the album with a fast, almost classic thrash sound and a bit more of that NWOBHM feel. With its tempo and harder vocal parts, it's about as close to "classic" Metallica as they're going to give us on this album, and James' vocals are absolutely amazing on this track. Fans in the private pre-release listening section alluded to the track's unpredictability, and there are a few interesting chord progressions here and even a neat bass solo at one point. The second solo Kirk plays in the song is another highlight of the album, featuring him performing sweep arpeggios for the first time on an album since his playing on the "Master of Puppets" album.

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Songwriting and production on the album is pretty much spot-on. The album is not brickwalled to death like "Death Magnetic," though it does get a bit loud and clippy at times. But it is nice to have an album that doesn't cause actual damage to cheap headphones. The songs are not mired in extra layers, and Metallica's bare-bones approach to writing and production is great, sounding like a fresh breath of air in today's synth-infused, Axe-FX clean delayed, sterile production environment. Playing is a bit of a mixed bag. James shows once again why he has the most coveted right hand in the metal scene, with nearly every riff being powerful and hard-hitting. Robert Trujillo has grown into the band quite well, and you can almost hear some of his jazz fusion influence when he plays more prominent parts like the intro of "ManUNkind." Lars has traditionally been the butt of Metallica jokes, but it's hard to really find any fault with his playing here. He's no Neil Peart, Dave Lombardo or Mike Portnoy, but he's not trying to be. His style fits with the band perfectly. The band's weakest link in this case is Kirk Hammett. Nearly every solo on this record sounds like it was merely "phoned-in." While there are moments that wow me like the sweep picking in "Spit Out the Bone" and his note choices that open the solo to "Halo on Fire," almost 100 percent of the rest of his solo work on the album is almost memetic, with wah abuse and sloppy pentatonic scales galore. I say we start a change.org petition to get a restraining order against Kirk for wah pedals from this point on. And I mean nearly ALL of the guitar solos are just plain bad. In fact, it's gotten me to appreciate his work on "Death Magnetic," which wasn't all that creative but at least showed some adventurous tendencies at times, all the more. The idea of Kirk being the weak link is also exemplified by the incident in which he lost a smartphone containing all of his potential writing contributions. For this reason, this is the first album Metallica has ever released (not counting covers albums and "Kill 'Em All") to not feature a single Kirk writing credit.

Of note is the third disc of the special edition, which features the previously released "Lords of Summer," a track which I found better than a lot of the other tracks on the album, "Ronnie Rising Medley," a medley of tunes from Rainbow, and probably one of the few times I've heard "Stargazer" covered better than Dream Theater's version. Also featured are covers of Deep Purple's "When a Blind Man Cries" and Iron Maiden's "Remember Tomorrow," along with the entire live set at Rasputin Music in Berkley, California, for Record Store Day, featuring classic tunes from only the Cliff Burton era, and a live performance of the track "Hardwired".

Lyrics — 8
With so many tracks, going over all of the individual lyrics and themes is a bit of a tough call, but James Hetfield concurs with the idea of the album having a much angrier tone than some past records, and a general lyrical theme of fear and taking action, and how the track "Hardwired" states that we're all fucked, but in a sort of "we're all fucked, and we're in this together" kind of tone. "Atlas, Rise!" tackles the idea of people who burden themselves with stress and almost seems to be about mental illness in general. "Moth Into Flame" was inspired by the death of Amy Winehouse, and carries the theme of the dangers of fame. Lines like "Blacked out/Pop queen, amphetamine/The screams crashed into silence" have been mocked online, but as is usually the case with Metallica, there's a certain genuinity that comes with James Hetfield's lyrics that lets you forgive his few lyrical transgressions. For the most part, his lyrics are dark without being too edgy, and reasonably well-written, such as this passage from "Here Comes Revenge": "Man has made me oh so strong/Blurring lines of right and wrong/Far too late for frail amends/Now it's come to sweet revenge/Desperate hands/That lose control/Have no mercy on your soul."

James Hetfield's vocals have been a positive point of focus throughout the album, with moments where he almost sounds like he's singing on "Master of Puppets" again, especially on the first and last songs on the album, but he also has a very varied approach to his vocals on the album with a lot of dynamics and harmonies and melodies that remind one of the "Load/Reload" era. If there's one thing from those albums that I enjoyed a lot, it was James' vocals, and they actually mix quite well with the newer sort of thrash instrumental sound.

Overall Impression — 8
It's been eight years since "Death Magnetic," and that's a really long time for an album by any standard, so the question a lot of people are asking is "was the wait worth it?" Well, if you were a fan of "Death Magnetic," the answer to this is undoubtedly, unambigiously, unequivocally "YES!" In many respects, it's a big improvement over the previous record, with more varied songwriting, better riffs and vocals, and in many ways it feels kind of like a summary of the band's entire career. The only real complaint on the album that I have is Kirk Hammett's guitar solos, but that's becoming a far less important part of Metallica's sound as far as I'm concerned. His solos still do absolutely nothing to captivate me, though, and it is a bit of a black mark on what's otherwise a really good album.

If you weren't too sure about anything Metallica's done since the "Black Album," this is also sure to be something you're going to want to check out, as it almost seems to be a bit of a spiritual successor of sorts to the album. In fact, if "Death Magnetic" was described as "the album that could have come between 'Justice' and the 'Black Album,'" this one would be the best fit between the "Black Album" and the "Load/Reload" albums. There's a thread of melodicism from the latter records that's present on this album, but a sense of experimentation that the band was hinting at on their popular 1991 release, and slower, groovier, heavier tempos on some tracks that are really captivating.

If you belong to the camp of "Metallica hasn't done anything good since 'Justice'/'Master of Puppets'"... well, this might not do anything to change your mind. There are moments that hark back to their earliest days ("Hardwired" and "Spit Out the Bone" are probably the best contenders), but most of the album is steeped in the sort of post-"Justice" sound, and especially the sound the band has established on "Death Magnetic," to the point where it does feel a bit like Metallica found a sound they liked and decided to stick with it.

Is it a perfect album? No. Kirk's solos are pretty bad all around and the second disc does tend to drag on a bit. But all around, this is probably the most well-rounded, well-executed album in Metallica's career since the "Black Album," and there are just so many great headbanging moments on the album that it's hard to really say too much else negative about this album.

Now, Metallica, please don't make us wait eight years for the next one, but not before you send Kirk back to Satch for a refresher. Other than that, good job on this one, guys!

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142 comments sorted by best / new / date

    redgravegilver
    Well, I think the first disc is strong but second disc, like what other have said, seems very weak. The only song that I really liked on the second disc is Spit Out The Bone. They should just really have made one disc and put Spit Out The Bone as the last track and maybe add Confusion so it would be an 8 track record. That said, I'll probably listen to this record a lot more and hopefully I'll like more songs on the second disc. Also we need to talk about Kirk. The man has completely given up. I'm not sure if it's because he lost his phone or something but every time he will do his solos, I'm imagining an alternate solo in my head instead and it sounds better and that tells something lol. Lars is just....well, Lars. James is the highlight on this record. Dude can still riff hard and this is my most enjoyed vocal performance of his since Justice. Anyway, I'm sure this comments section will go hard with their opinions lol
    jeff323
    It's so frustrating because I've defended Kirk his whole career as a great guitar player due to his very catchy solos and lead parts. Then I hear this and it sounds like there was little composition to his solos, but instead just improvised. I used to really look forward to his parts.
    travislausch
    He had mentioned in a recent Guitar World interview that he was taking influence from jazz fusion guys like John McLaughlin and such, and actually mentioned improvising his solos on this record. But improv can be really good sometimes. Too bad it wasn't in this case.
    redgravegilver
    Kirk's Fade to Black solo was full on improvisation and it's safe to say that it worked on that one. However, Kirk isn't simply skilled enough to try imitating John McLaughlin or any Jazz Fusion players for that matter.
    a drummer
    Definitely agree about the highlight being Hetfield. I've always thought that Metallica won't ever sound good ever again unless James starts to sing with his signature growl. And thats exactly why i love this album, He started singing with balls again. And i totally understand that he's over 50, and his style of singing isn't exactly easy on your vocal cords, but the yodeling singing needed to go 20 years ago. but i digress... His vocals on Spit Out the Bone are top fucking notch, the hype on that song is real. Overall, this is a much needed addition to their discography. Well done Metallica. Except Kirk. What the hell Kirk, not one good solo on the entire record.
    davidkoh007
    I pretty much agree with you. Maybe Kirk went all mad because Lars and James didnt let him bring in his ideas as he mentioned in some interviews so he just scrambled some shit together like he didnt care. Or maybe he really lost his enthusiasm.
    JustStayDown90
    If Kirk's ideas were as bad as his solos on this album, that might explain why his input was limited by James and Lars. Losing his phone should hardly matter, at least when it comes to solos, plus it's his fault for storing all his ideas on something that can "easily" get misplaced. Let's not fool ourselves, Metallica songs are 95% James and Lars anyway, and probably for a good reason. I couldn't agree more with redgrave (though I also liked Confusion, and Here Comes Revenge quite a bit from the 2nd disk, while disliking Atlas, Rise! from the 1st one). James is definitely the highlight on this record, his vocals are damn impressive, and so is his songwriting. Kirk is definitely Metallica's weakest link at the moment, with sub-par, uninspired, rehashed solos which end up detracting from the songs instead of improving them.
    friday.the.13th.jasonx
    It is strange how it's now just Hetfield, Ulrich (except for 1 song and 1 bonus song) when the last 3 albums were credited to all 4 members.
    CLiFF-BuRToN
    Well if you watch the videos that was shot during the recording of DM, you can see Rob brought some really nice riffs to the table and they also didn't want go through another bass player crisis because his songs weren't used on the album so they credited all songs to all 4 members to keep everyone happy
    tomaxandxamot
    Dare I say this is Kirks last album. They'll bring back Mustaine. Not acrimoniously, Kirks gonna retire, do some surf tunes. Before you hit -1 - Trump won remember. Anything is possible. Haha
    JustStayDown90
    Nah, I don't want Kirk to leave. He is Metallica by right. But I do want him to want to improve. He doesn't need to write rhythm, James is a beast in that department; just focus on soloing properly.
    davidkoh007
    If kirk doenst get his shit together, i wouldnt mind him leaving, But bringing Mustain back in is the most retarded thing ive ever heard.
    tomaxandxamot
    Says the guy with the South Park icon - fwiw, Megadeths last 3 albums have suffered from what Kirk is suffering from - worn our scales, ideas, topics, a music genre that due to fans harping, has strict guidelines for close to 40 years now.....actually, like a trade in team sports, each M band could use some new juice. Why couldn't Dave play on the next album? #collaboration
    davidkoh007
    Not mentioning the history, Dave wouldnt be any improvement for Metallica, since he is on par with Kirk considering writing solos. (I always considered Kirk better solo writer, but not anymore after this album). Thats why Mustaine would be a bad choice, they can do much better, and pick someone who can write solos and play better overall, theres plenty great unknown guitarists these days.
    dectlariosa005
    Maybe next album we will see Kirk improvement, he said he quit drinking and he said also he can do any solo just give him a week.
    rocklee1431
    Kirk's solos that I've heard from this album sound like something I could improvise on my first try. And I can admit that I'm not a great guitarist.
    RnFnR95
    have to agree with you about the first disc being the stronger one (absolutely love every song on that one) but i also wouldnt call the second one weak. i think it just sounds that way at first following how incredible the first disc is. but after listening to it through a few times the songs on the second disc are definitely growing on me
    dectlariosa005
    I agree with you, I thought manunkind had a great intro but i got bored after it. I even create a playlist on my phone, it is mixed of some kick ass DM songs and 5 outstanding songs from Hardwired. I named it "Hardwired Magnetic"
    theoliraptor
    I for one love this album. It's got everything a modern day Metallica album should have. Groove, speed, melody, heaviness, vocal harmonies, very audible bass and has a real "jam" quality to it, especially Halo On Fire. I'm very impressed and happy with this album, lots of replay value.
    PRSguitars87
    It came out yesterday.., replay value?
    RosetaStoned351
    It means there are lot's of reasons to listen to the album again.
    jeff323
    yeah but you gotta listen to it again and again to say there's replay value haha. You can guess there is
    theoliraptor
    NZ has had it 3 days now, but having said that, albums can be listened to more than once in a day. That's what I've been doing anyway.
    friday.the.13th.jasonx
    I don't know where he got Rob has been in the band 6 months longer than Jason from? Jason joined in 1986 and left in 2001. 2001-1986 = 15 Rob joined in 2003. 2016-2003 = 13 So he's close to being in the band as long as Jason but he hasn't been in the band longer.
    travislausch
    Okay so Jason Newsted was in the band roughly 14 years and 3 months. Rob Trujillo was in the band for 13 years and 9 months. I got this so wrong, and I apologize. But still, food for thought. I think I'll ask Anton to update this review! Thanks for correcting me on this! Edit: looks like it's already been updated!
    travislausch
    You might actually be right, there. Sorry, math is hardly my strong suit, and when I counted it out in my head, it made sense to me, but it's quite possible I was wrong. There's also considering which months of those years. Rob joined very early in 2003 (February) and it's November 2016 now. Jason joined very late in 1986 and left very early in 2001.
    renatosousa
    I like the album. It's not their best but it's far from being their worst, in my opinion. I'm happy that my favorite band of all time finally has a new album out there after 8 long years. \m/
    beggar__
    I gotta say I´m more than fucking excited!! This is the Metallica I´ve always loved, it all just sounds like them and that´s more than enough for me. I´m so happy I´m hearing new music from them, some songs really blow me away with their Load-ish feel, I didn´t see that coming! It´s fucking awesome!! I´m a Metallica fan and I´m fucking happy. Thank you Metallica!! Fuck yeah!! Fuck nitpicking, I´m enjoying the overall feel of the album. Honestly I didn´t expect it to be this good. LOVE IT!! Also the new Lords of Summer is absoutely kickass, I love how that song evolved!
    UltimateGuizar
    To everyone who says Kirks solos are bad. It's your own fault for learning too much about guitar/theory etc. I'm shite on the guitar and I think his solos sound great.
    MaggaraMarine
    Seriously speaking, compare them to the solos on the first four albums, their 90s albums, or even some solos from Death Magnetic. Even though people criticized his playing on Death Magnetic, there are still some great solos like "The Day that Never Comes". But the solos on this album just seem to lack creativity and it just feels like Kirk played most of them on one take and was like "meh, good enough". Listen to the solo of songs like "Blackened", "Ride the Lightning", "Disposable Heroes", "The Four Horsemen"... The solos are one of the highlights of those songs. The solos actually add something to those songs - they are kind of small compositions on their own. They are solos that inspire people to start playing the guitar. But on this album it just felt like the solos were there for the sake of having solos. They didn't add anything special to the songs. They don't make you want to pick up your guitar and learn to play them.
    CLiFF-BuRToN
    you are right but we shouldn't include the songs from Kill 'Em All because both James, Lars and Johnny Z wanted him to play Mustaine's solos which he did
    nick9790
    For me the issue is they just sound so uninspired. Kirk sounds like he isn't enjoying himself. I find that sad to be honest.
    tomaxandxamot
    This was kinda my point about maybe this is Kirks last album - dudes worn out. 12 regular releases, 2 cover albums, only write songs in E and D, never played a major scale on any song.....dude appears tapped and he knows it. His heart ain'tin it. Just look at the "making of Moth" he is in the studio in a mesh trucker hat on his way to an antique store.....showing Lars the Wah (Lars talks like it's new to him, Iike he had never seen one).
    travislausch
    "I'm shite on the guitar and I think his solos sound great." Well, at least you're admitting you're not all that. Kind of like the guy I've been talking to lately who wants a pedal to put in front of his Line 6 Spider that'll make his guitar tone magically good because he is a beginner and doesn't think tone can actually get any better. I criticize this album's solos because, even with my admittedly quite mediocre skills on the guitar compared to many of the greats, I could have actually done a better job myself. And I mean, I say that without hyperbole or egotistical self-inflation. I'm a pretty sloppy shredder who barely manages techniques like sweep picking or insane tapping runs, but I could have picked better scales and phrasings than Kirk. That's what makes this album's solos so sad, especially when you compare them to some of Kirk's past solos, just like MaggaraMarine mentions, where he really did have better phrasing, note choices, and his solos actually felt like mini-compositions. On this album, the solos feel like they're just... there. It's like 20 seconds of wah and pentatonic abuse aaaand... it's done.
    Slimslamcman
    Seems like there are a lot of people who have a potential career in the production business.....
    jabronie25
    Idk about you guys, but I thought Revenge was a good song. It's one of my favorites from the album
    nick9790
    I think the second disc is more of a grower. I liked the Load touches (I liked Load, shun the non believer). The Lemmy tribute is on the weaker side, but at least it isn't filler you know? Reload, St, and Death had more filler than a vienna sausage.
    withinus_tyler
    Incredible album from the greatest band of all time. Always loved and respected Metallica. This album fuckin kicks ass
    nick9790
    I honestly am starting to get the feeling that Kirk isn't really enjoying Metallica as much as the other guys. He doesn't seem nearly as stoked about the record. I described it the exact same way to alot of people "phoned in". Even live, he plays the parts, but he doesn't seem to be having fun. His "solos" live are just random shit. Which granted to a point they always were, but they've really descended into crap. It could just be that a family and his own ventures in terms of the horror stuff are more rewarding. That's ok. I just hate to see a player I always enjoyed and always stuck up for as not having any fun being in his band.
    miketonyfriend
    Seems he was creatively locked out of the album. He's said as much in interviews. However, live - especially that last London show on Friday - he's been on fire.
    caiozet
    Someone please change the meaning of 'album review' to comparing a new album to the older ones and saying what sound like what. But really, if you couldn't find anything that makes this album stand on it's own, it only shows your skills as a reviewer.
    travislausch
    Or the band's problems with this album. If I had to criticise it in an area I neglected to mention in my review, it's that the album really doesn't do much, to my ears, to really stand out on its own. It takes so many of its elements from past albums that there's very little moving forward going on. Either the songs sound like they could have been leftovers from "Death Magnetic", or it sounds like they're honestly trying to recapture some lost glory from past records. Really, there's nothing on this album that suggests they're honestly trying something new. That doesn't make it a bad album, but it's probably the furthest thing from "innovative".
    caiozet
    I know what you mean, but i don't recall Metallica doing everything they've done here on other albums, the riffs on Moth and Atlas can't be found in any other album, for example. Or you could say it sounds like they could be on the Black album or on Kill'em All, but it's clear they wouldn't fit on these that well, considering all the other elements involved in these songs. There are just soft reminiscences. The riff from Now That We're Dead could easily be on the Black album, but the vocals sound like Load. And the arrangement is like something from Death Magnetic. From my perspective, when you mix different stuff, you ultimately create something new deserving to stand on it's own, be it bad or good. And i assume anyone would agree that not absolutely EVERYTHING in this record is rehashed stuff. Listen some more. You'll probably find out that Metallica never tried to incorporate some Iron Maiden leads in their own style as in this record.
    noodles_wazaman
    Says more about the genre they ascribe to rather than the band.
    travislausch
    Yeah, thrash metal is not exactly the most "forward-thinking" genre out there. But that is not a bad thing at all, if you ask me. People still make swing jazz, and there's nothing wrong with that even if the style has not changed a bit since three of my lifetimes ago. Metallica lifting a lot of its sound from its past is not even really a criticism, per se. I have to admit that they chose some of their best qualities to accentuate.
    huesudo2
    While I know Metallica as anyone else with ears and an affinity to metal would, I haven't really paid too much attention to them. I've listened to their stuff maybe once, sometimes twice, and save for their greatest hits I've kinda dismissed them. Considering that almost none of their albums come without a few annoying flaws (either bass missing, or brickwalling, or being the table)... Despite all the good stuff Metallica has to offer, either I generally look for different qualities in music or the given album is simply too hard to get into for a bunch of reasons. I've listened to a few songs of this album and my God. This is the album I was looking for. The album that actually invites me to listen. I've listened to MUCH worse lead guitar than Kirk's in this album, and while I agree that he should ponder if he's burnt out and needs to take a break, saying it "sucks" is too much of an overstatement. We all know how good he is at what he does, and I bet we've all seen people who we recognize as pros on what they do go through a rough patch. He's got a pedal company now. (Surprisingly, a pedal company that doesn't make any wahs yet.) He lost a bunch of intellectual property and you can all bet your asses he's mad at himself for it, and that he knows how stupid it seems to have a bunch of work vanish for a silly reason like that - and that feeling is really fucking heavy, and it takes a massive toll on you. I'm giving him a chance.
    RnFnR95
    am i the only one who is absolutely in love with the production on this album??
    davidkoh007
    The good: Hardwired, Atlas Rise, Moth into Flame, Halo on Fire, Spit out the Bone, Now that We're Dead. The rest seems kind of boring, gets repetitve easily imo they feel like just fillins. But thats just my opinion.
    Fisheth24
    Glad to see someone agrees with me on this. Disc 2 has some really interesting parts, but I can't get past the blatant Diamond Head stealing of Confused though.
    joe_kenda
    To be cliche', I really haven't bought a Metallica album since the Black album. I was 17 when that album came out and I can honestly tell you that my friends as well as myself were disappointed when we finally listened to the whole thing. This choice had nothing to do with Cliff or whatever, but it was their new, Dr. Feelgood, sound. I just didn't like most of the album. I'm all for progress and change, but...(enter decades worth of negative comments here.) That being said, I really like Hardwired. I listened to it front to back, twice in a row and I don't know what it is, but I really like it. To me, this feels like the natural progression from Justice. This album is tight, structured yet progressive, and just kicks ass all around. It's not prefect, maybe not the album of the year. But it's refreshing to here these guys I idolized and grew up listening to and reading about in magazines still doing what they love. But, what the hell do I know? Metal Up Your Ass! Bitches.
    friday.the.13th.jasonx
    this is the first album Metallica has ever released (not counting covers albums) to not feature a single Kirk writing credit. Umm Kill 'Em All and everything before that as well?
    travislausch
    "Everything before that" OFFICIAL releases. Not demos. But you're right, Kirk did not have a credit on that one. I had always remembered hearing how he helped with rearranging some of the tracks but maybe it was just referring to the solos.
    friday.the.13th.jasonx
    Demos aren't official releases?
    travislausch
    No. They are not. If they were, then I've released dozens of truly awful albums by now.
    friday.the.13th.jasonx
    I don't think you understand the definition of Official. If it was released by the band themselves then it's an official release if it was a bootleg i.e. something by the band released by someone else without the band's knowledge or permission then it's not an official release. The fact it was a demo doesn't mean it was not an official release (also worth noting the band officially reissued No Life 'til Leather as well).
    StevenPace
    He wrote some of the solos on Kill 'Em All which was their first album.
    friday.the.13th.jasonx
    Writing the solo doesn't count as a songwriting credit. He won't get a credit or royalties for songs he only wrote the solo for.
    travislausch
    I mean if the solo was an integral part of the song and contained some kind of important melodic motif to the piece, I'd say it qualifies. But then, Dave Mustaine did actually write, if I recall, "the first four bars of every solo".
    dectlariosa005
    I think Metallica had their own rules now with regards to royalties. They owned every each of their songs from Kill em All to date. Even though Kirk doesn't have his name on every song in Hardwired he still got royalties on it.
    friday.the.13th.jasonx
    Yes but performance royalties are significantly lower than songwriting royalties. Plus he wouldn't make anything off of other artists doing covers.
    stickler5150
    I love Metallica, own every album etc etc. This album rocks but no-one seems to mention that James seems to be struggling to write a good vocal hook these days. The music is great and he sounds good but they always had a knack for a good vocal hooks. St Anger didn't really have any, I think Death Magnetic had alot more than this one. It's like his vocal melodies and Kirk's solos are suffering the same issues. Where was The Unforgiven IV?
    nick9790
    I gotta disagree with you, at first I thought the same when the singles came out, not that they weren't good, but that they were all the same. However, the rest of the tracks made me feel a little better. Dream No More, Halo, and Dead have SICK vocal melodies.
    fafa1234
    I think DM was one of their best albums, although it did take me a long while to get into it. The Hardwired album just seemed sort of...rushed - like they recorded the songs and said "ok it's done" instead of tweaking things here and there. I don't know, I'll keep listening to it...hopefully it will grow on me more.
    beggar__
    I listen to it like crazy and I´m hooked man! I can´t get out of my head the chorus to "Now that we´re dead", that´s one of many awesome vocal hooks. Singing on "Dream no more" is fucking killer, reminds me of The Memory Remains. Verse of "Spit out the bone" is pretty catchy too...there´s a lot of great stuff. It´ll grow on you!
    RosetaStoned351
    Great album, I'm hearing a lot of Garage Inc, Rainbow, Death Magnetic & Reload, 3 solos are also actually pretty good. Spit Out The Bone is a thrash-terpiece, best song on the album. 8,9/10 and best new record from THE BIG 4. - First disc: Great! Second disc: Really Good!
    Drithien
    I pretty much agree with this review. Great album if you enjoyed Death Magnetic, good if you liked the Black Album and the Loads. Production is passable, but not great; which is bewildering to me. If the biggest metal band in history can't have excellent production then they are doing something quite wrong. They have both the means and the time (so, much, time) to make the album sound technically great; yet we get mediocrity. In most other cases I would let it slide, recording an album isn't cheap; but these people have their own frigging studio. Once, they set the bar for great production, now they can barely go above the middle. If I was them I would consider bringing Bob Rock back, if only just for the sound production; Lars and James were never very good at it on their own anyway. Musically I like the fast pace of it all along with the pounding nature of the riffs, the creativity, and most of all the energy; it feels like they are truly having fun creating once again. What I don't like is the absence of characteristic riffs; there is no Master, Roam, Sad, Fade, Creeping, nothing. It's mostly by-the(-Metallica)-book technical-more-than-distinctive riffing. You are supposed to enhance your distinctive riffs with the technical ones, not the other way around. Lars is ok, but nowhere near as good or creative as he used to be in the first five albums; but, he is better than in Death Magnetic in my opinion, that album had generic drumming; in this there is more flavour.Rob is getting there, but how many more albums do they have in them for him to become more integrated I wonder. And Kirk just sucks for the most part. Dang it. He really does. There is not a single solo that is up to his older standards, not one; just some parts here and there. I think he needs to go back to practicing lead-writing because this is awkward. It's not the wah, he has done wonders with it in the past. It's everything. His plan to just go there without preparing and play to the moment obviously failed. Kirk mate, next time go prepared, go veeeeery prepared, you are just not good at improvising. I hope he hasn't just run dry of ideas and creativity. Overall a good effort, I enjoyed it more than Death Magnetic. I hope they get back to the studio early this time and come up with something even better. This was to me a good warm up for getting rid of the stiffness on DM and St Anger, write and have fun not try to recapture old glory. As James has said, when they were writing Master they just did what felt right, no agenda, just inspiration, and so it should be.
    CLiFF-BuRToN
    this is Kirk prepared he said since he couldn't contribute to song writing, he concentrated on his solos and and wrote them beforehand lol
    travislausch
    Where did he say that? Because I'm going to quote this passage straight out of the current issue of Guitar World: "Kirk Hammett: I just played whatever I was feeling that day, or maybe a reflection of what I was watching on YouTube the night before. For all the songs, what was really important to me was my 40-minute drive to the studio. I wouldn't listen to anything. I'd just relax, clear my mind, and not think of anything music related so that when I got there, I could capitalize on my first impressions of what I was hearing and respond to it. During the recording, I was listening to a lot of Jeff Beck's Wired, Mahavishnu, Weather Report, Al Di Meola and, as I mentioned, Buddy Guy, so that kind of free improvisation is reflected in the spontaneous nature of my playing." Really suggests to me that he improvised his solos on this record.
    noodles_wazaman
    He's a pretty artistic guy, I guess you just have to listen to his solos like you look at abstract art. They're definitely not exactly the musical equivalent of breathtaking renaissance painting
    travislausch
    No doubting his artistry. Even with these solos, he's still a really inspirational guy. But I still feel a lot like these solos are just directionless, pointless noodling that he's doing to just get it over and done with, and not something artistic or abstract.
    noodles_wazaman
    Yeah seems like he needs a side project or some sort of outlet...oh wait... It seems he's handed pretty rigid parameters by Lars / James - basically saying 'solo over this section for 30 seconds', which doesn't gel well with his 'Do what I feel like in the moment' approach
    miketonyfriend
    Was bummed to see he skipped doing his metal/horror fest this year. A creative outlet outside the band seems to suit him well, and would have been cool to see again because the first two were amazing. I'm not even into horror and thought they were great. I've always wondered if it was a Hetfield thing that prevented it from happening this year.
    Sharp155
    Love the heavy slow chug in Murder One. And disc 2 is not weak at all. The only problem I have with the album are Kirks solos.... They are always just so uninspiring and covered in wah sauce. Too much wah sauch, kirk.
    fafa1234
    This release kind of reminds me of when Load was released. You heard Metallica was coming out with a new album and you got all excited...thinking "ok, maybe they'll mix the heaviness of AJFA with the sonic quality of the Black album!"...then you heard "Until It Sleeps" and you were completely underwhelmed. Then you bought the album and listened to it and thought "ok, Ain't My Bitch is sort of fast and heavy...Hero Of The Day is...different" but there was no consistency of greatness. There were a few parts here and there that were great, but overall it was a bit of a let down. That's how I feel about this new album.
    stondagain
    Ha, great post. When I first heard Until It Sleeps on the radio before Load's release, I though "Oh My God. They've turned into the f*cking Scorpions."
    noodles_wazaman
    Trust me, the lyrics on Until it Sleeps are just a bit more thoughtful and well written than the likes of 'Rock you like a Hurricane' or 'I'm Creeeeeping Death arrrrrghhhhh'
    CLiFF-BuRToN
    I really liked the album despite Kirk's sloppy solos. Some songs could have been cut off but they probably didn't want to release another EP of leftovers like Beyond Magnetic so they recorded everything they wrote. And on a side note: WTF Kirk?! and here ı was thinking he couldn't get any worse I mean not just his solos on the album I watched the London live stream and his playing is just terrible it's sloppy as hell like he doesn't even want to be on the stage playing
    travislausch
    Don't get me wrong, I'm REALLY ragging on Kirk on this one, but his solos occupy only a small fraction of the album, in terms of time. 90% of the rest of the album is riffs and verses and choruses, and those bits are fucking top-notch compared to what Metallica have been doing in the past couple decades.
    miketonyfriend
    I've been uber critical of Kirk's solos the past 4-5 years, but he was note perfect on that stream and in many ways THE highlight of the show. Before posting this, I went back and watched again and he's nearly identical to some of the RTL/Puppets albums.
    sombrero_mop
    I'm honestly interested in why Kirk's playing seems to be quickly deteriorating. I wonder if it's a health issue, or maybe just a lack of interest... Who knows?
    CLiFF-BuRToN
    It's not a health issue just lack of interest if you are a guitarist, drummer, bassist etc. If you don't practice your playing slowly detoriates and you forget songs and also riffs, solos that you could play with ease becomes harder to play
    stondagain
    Agree 100%. I'm 47, and I was in a thrash band back in 89-95. These days my lead playing is light-years past where it was when I was in my early 20s, yet when I try to play along with our demos from back then, there's no f*ckin way I can keep up. But my interest in guitar playing has never waned, and my lead technique & knowledge have never been better. Kirk has simply given up & lost all interest in his craft. It's sad.
    noodles_wazaman
    I question whether he's really that excited about returning to their old school style. I'm sure he was a dedicated shredder in his younger days, I just question whether a 50 something multi-millionaire, with a guaranteed gig (where, by the way he writes none of the songs) has the appetite to lock himself in a room all day and woodshed?
    stondagain
    Anyone else think Kirk & James should start trading off leads? Maybe that would push Kirk to put some effort into his parts. Because James' lead on Suicide & Redemption might be one of the best on DM - although Kirk's on The Day That Never Comes was pretty good. But he completely sucks on this one. It's like he did no homework at all.
    RosetaStoned351
    Kirk's solo on Spit Out The Bone is good though, you can definitely tell that he put some effort into that one solo. James' solo on Halo On Fire is fantastic, he's a much better soloist than Kirk now.
    tomaxandxamot
    First off, if "Death Magnetic" literally breaks headphones.... doesn't that make it an instanct classic ? That's album is underrated. It follows the Metallica Recipe of MOP and AJFA - fast opener, 2 slower but fast songs and the slow one at 4....basically Metallicas said FU and gave you the same album with a different coveron t like he said she wound
    tomaxandxamot
    To be critical a bit on the new album, the intro to ManUNkind is sick. But they wasted it on this song - and never came back to it in the song? Say what dudes.? That intro was taking you and I someplace late, like back to 1989 - and instead it to took us too 1996. Booooo
    KingKrisKhan
    Incredibly disappointing. Songs drag on for too long, riffs are mostly nothing to write home about, barring a few exceptions like "Spit Out the Bone." The overall sound and production of the album is pretty mediocre as well, as the drums are way too loud and sharp, the vocals are way too tinny and weak, the guitars lack mids and the mix itself is shallow and sharp sounding. It's a pain to listen to.
    PRSguitars87
    How dare you talk poorly of them!!!!! This album is the best metal album since st anger!!!
    Peres.T.Peanut
    Don't think you could be more right, its impressive how low people are willing to set their bar when it comes to a band they like. This album is like twice as long as it had to be. This could be so much better with propper self editing... The production is also dogshit, everything sounds weak as fuck, it pains me how they sound more like 50 year olds playing on record than they do live. Kirk also clearly checked out, crap solos all over. I really don't know why people are hyping the shit out of this one. It has its moments, but thats pretty much it lol.
    vppark2
    Even though it's just your opinion, just be prepared for downvotes by the fanboys. I upvoted you since I personally agree lol.
    iTitan
    To be honest I ve been listening to Metallica for a lot of years at the moment am not into the metal scene anymore but I wanted to hear what they have to say now because they are one of my favorite bands. In this album you ll hear elements from all the albums and from their influences. Let me tell you it's for the strong ears. But my major issue with this album as it was with the previews on everything is that every song ends up drowning in a medley of riffs. E.g spit out the bone could have been 4 min but it end s up too long and gets boring!
    vppark2
    That's my problem with it as well. Everything just wants to be 7 minute length songs, but it drags on far too much here.
    iTitan
    Exactly i was listening to the album the other day while i was running and god at one point i had a headache because of this ups and downs. Again this is for strong metal ears and i m not coming back to this kind of music but i checked it out from curiosity and this is what i felt.
    adaeha
    I'm probably the one of the few people who just "doesn't get it". After several listens, the only songs of merit in my mind are Moth Into Fame, and, maybe pushing it, Atlas. I tend to skip through Disc 2 and the second half of Disc 1, because there's nothing there that jumps out at me as particularly amazing; mostly meh. The same for Spit Out The Bone, which I hear so many people singing the praises of, but again it does nothing for me. Nothing here connects with me at all. Even St. Anger appealed to me in a lot of ways. IMO their weakest release of their whole discography. Certainly my biggest disappointment of 2016
    binadra1234
    This is solid album. The biggest disappointment for me are solo parts. They all sound bland and are very repetitive. I don't think this album is going to be in my top ten if it comes to metal because there's a lot of better relases from this year for example Vektor's "Terminal Redux", Megadeth's "Dystopia" or Testament's "Brotherhood Of The Snake". P.S Am I the only one who likes second disc better?
    Valerius
    Like with all albums, you need to get used to it before you can say is it good or bad. And if you return to listening to it after five years then its even great album.
    damillion
    I've never really gotten into Metallica and I can probably count what to me are great songs on one hand. Until this album happened, that is. Hardwired, Atlas, Moth and Halo are great songs. To me, and I realize many fans will probably disagree which is okay, they've never sounded better.
    Jezmic
    Kirk definitely sucked on HTSD. His only good solos are those from Now that we're dead and Spit out the Bone, and the solo from Dream no More isn't too bad either. Also am I the only one thinking Lars was great? Just listen to the weird beat from ManUNkind, or the epic double-kick drumming from Spit out the Bone. But James was definitely the best bit of the album, his voice is incredible. It can be soft and mellow, see Halo on Fire, as well as brutal and 1980s-sounding, see Spit out the Bone.
    nmnmnm25
    I understand Metallica has this stigma where nothing they ever do will ever be good enough for people but this album is very good. Bottom line is if they don't put out another album and this is their finale, as a fan of 20+ years, I'd be more than satisfied with them going out like this.
    AnEvilWalrus
    It's... alright. I need to listen to it more but it's definitely not as bad as I thought it would be after they released Hardwired. I have no idea why people like that song so much. It sounds like something a teenage Metallica fan would try to write. Awful song. Everything else on here is alright. I never really find myself loving any of it but it's not bad by any means.
    Shadowhunter123
    I definitely enjoy listening to that album. It has some very, very cool riffs on it. It does not reach 'classic' Metallica with its aggressiveness and speed. But considering the overall sound, the mix, James' voice, Kirk's solos (cannot understand the Kirk bashing on here tbh) and heaviness in many parts, Hardwired To Self-Destruct is their best work since the 91 Black Album.
    MiltonMalone
    First:I like the album. But:They still don`t let the Bass shine, with a few exceptions. The drumms are to dominant. Kirks solos, with a few exceptions. The disc is defenitly a grower, give it awhile. I asked myself if they took stuff from the past, that was left over, from the different Areas and overworked it, instead of really writing new material.....
    GoToSleep
    Album sucks. Am I the only one that thinks Metallica are butt rock now and have been since at least Load...
    PRSguitars87
    Nestalgia is the only reason this band still exists. They barely ever release albums and when they do, the hordes of teenagers who have listened to their 80s masterpieces get so pumped to finally experience their first Metallica release. Thats all it is. Their fanbase is built on newer fans who discover their old catolog and then wait for something new. Those of us who have been around for years understand just how mediocre and crap sounding their new releases are
    Shavyi
    The music world is filled by artists that released only one or two great records that keep a fanbase together. That is just what drives the music since ever. Is it a bad thing ? I don't think so.
    chevyzz1
    i partially agree with you... it's not that they're putting crap, but c'mon! 12 songs and just 2 or 3 are "good"... the rest just sound like fillers, too long, and not memorable... it's been 8 fucking years man!!!!! give us some memorable songs like u did in the past!!!!!
    tomaxandxamot
    Same album with different cover on it.....like Lars said he wouldn't....but theye dido shut everyone up....and people still complain. The new album I think is s sick hey are inn their early 50/, what do you want.....Now that we are dead is the most underrated tune on the album.
    stondagain
    Good: Spit out the Bone, Moth Into Flame, Dream No More, Hardwired, Now That We're Dead, Atlas Rise. The rest: Pretty crappy & certainly not worth an 8 year wait. Oh and KIRK SUCKS.
    pressureproject
    Man I agree with you on Kirk. Dare I say Mustaine has better solos lately than him. He honestly sounds as if he doesn't put any effort at all into anything anymore.
    pressureproject
    Spit out the Bone is such a good track, it's a shame that the rest if the songs don't come close to this. It almost sounds like it was recorded in '89 or something. The entire aura of the song is different. James' vocals...the attitude...if far and beyond anything else on here. Disappointing.
    Soundwash22
    I wasn't going to post, but I have to... Totally agree with all of you about Papa Het - great work on the songwriting and even thought Lars was good as well. I hate to add to the Kirk bandwagon but I'm sorry - the leads are just bad. It broke my heart when he got "Greeny", that sweet Les Paul because I was afraid we were never going to hear how beautiful that thing could sound. (Short of listening to her previous owner of course). I'm glad the songs are fairly solid this go around because I was not on board with Death Magnetic, but I don't mind this album. You may agree, you may disagree - but Metallica will be hear right up until the cockroaches disappear, might as well accept it gents.
    rtsMARK
    Loved it. Yeah, there are 1 or 2 songs that will take a few more listens to sink in but overall - i'm loving it. I also love the fucking experts here dissecting it. Just listen to it as a record and forget who is behind the instruments. Fucking Experts - Experts everywhere.
    deadmanwalkin00
    I really enjoyed this album. It has me hooked way better than Death Magnetic. Hopefully they will do a full fledged US tour next year.