Label: Blackened Recordings
Release Date: November 18, 2016
Reviewed by: Todd “Toddstar” Jolicoeur
One of the most anticipated metal albums of the year dropped in mid-November and the quotes are still coming in… Not many bands can take who they are in 2016 and marry it with who they were in the mid-80’s. Metallica has done it with Hardwired… To Self-Destruct. On this album, the band takes the classic sound metal heads have come to love over the last 30 years and brings it together with who they have become through the years. Title track and debut single from the disc “Hardwired” kicks us off in the right direction taking the shortest path. The chugging riffs and pounding bass lines come alive with the thrashing drums and all too familiar vocals. This ain’t your baby sisters Metallica – these guys are killing it from first note to last. “Atlas, Rise!” has a very melodic groove woven through the track, regardless of the thunderous drums and guitars that open the track. The vocals swirl in the mix and give the song an edge that returns this and other tracks on the disc to a classic sound and vibe. “Moth Into Flame” brings together Lars Ulrich’s incredible timing and playing with killer riffs from Kirk Hammett. The driving rhythm of the track is anchored nicely by Robert Trujillo’s bass lines. “Halo On Fire” is another track that sounds like classic Metallica on the edges and at the heart, but brings newer sounds and grooves that fill the void between classic and modern Metallica, giving us a cool past-meets-present hybrid tune that exceeds expectations. “ManUNkind” unfolds slowly and beautifully like a flower in the spring, morphing into a solid rocker that demonstrates the diversity not only in the bands writing, but their playing. The heavy riff that permeates the track leading into the verse is killer and kicks the door open for James Hetfield’s vocals that show not only how strong his vocals are after all these years, but also pay homage to some of his vocals from classics past. “Am I Savage?” has a beautiful guitar interlude woven into the fabric of the track that shows the hard and soft side of the band, at the same time. The guitars grow and shift throughout the track, even tossing in some cool retro pings and squeals that show the band has not lost sight of either where they are from or where they are going. For those lucky enough to grab the 3-CD version of this release, you are treated to a bonus new track on the third disc (which also features songs from tribute discs and some killer live tracks) with the monster “Lords Of Summer.” This song is as strong as just about any other on the disc, but it has a slightly different feel to it – more of a return to the bands origins with a breakneck rhythm and tempo along with chugging riffs and solid vocals. This track is a fun throwback that marries the youthful energy of earlier releases with a more mature sound. Lords Of Summer indeed – cannot wait until this foursome takes this material on the road in 2017.
“Now That We’re Dead” is one of my favorite rockers on the collection, as the tribal-like rhythm that opens the track grows in intensity and magnitude without becoming overbearing to overreaching. The feel of the rhythm section is tight and seems locked in more so than on other tracks. The guitars take the song to the next level with chugging riffs and cool mini solos tossed in for good measure. The vocals are solid and show an anchored maturity in Hetfield. “Dream No More” has a darker vibe than a lot of the tracks on this collection, but it somehow fits within the spectrum of what the band has pulled together over these two discs. The guitar solos are rich and sound updated while leaning into the historical groove of Hammett solos past. The guitar work on the bridge is the highlight of this song. “Confusion” is a heavy track that leans mightily on the guitars and heavy handed rhythm section. Ulrich shines throughout this track, as his drumming seems to lead the songs charge. The vocals and guitars swirl nicely in the mix, complementing each other. “Here Comes Revenge” is another track that blends the old and the new creating a song that stands out among other songs on the discs. The vibe of this track is driven and controlled by the drums and vocals, both individually and collectively. The drum fills between verse and chorus are huge and give the song extra punch. “Murder One” comes alive during the intro, but the guitars of Hammett are the songs lifeblood while Trujillo and Ulrich combine to give the song a thunderous bottom end that keeps the track driving and focused. “Spit Out The Bone” comes at you guns-a-blazing and doesn’t let up for over seven minutes. The songs rhythm is phenomenal and gives us the perfect outro for the collection. The song could have been pulled from any of the bands ‘classic’ discs and shove a solid Metallica groove down the haters’ throats while getting the heads of the Met Club banging as if their lives depended on it.
Tracklisting: Hardwired – Atlas, Rise! – Now That We’re Dead – Moth Into Flame – Dream No More – Halo On Fire – Confusion – ManUNkind – Here Comes Revenge – Am I Savage? – Murder One – Spit Out The Bone – Lords Of Summer
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