Ever since the release of their 1996 album “Load”, I have treated any new album from Metallica with great suspicion. Playing live they still catch fire no problem, hammering out songs from their first five classic albums. But there have been some albums that have been real doozies along the way; the simply appalling “St Anger” in 2003 with no guitar solos and little bottom end, and the pathetic attempt at a partnership with Lou Reed on “Lulu”, which left both parties at the mercy of music reviewers worldwide.
Things were starting to point in the right direction with their ninth studio album “Death Magnetic” in 2008. Then the band concentrated on touring, headlining all over the planet and never disappointing as a live act and the set always livened up with cover songs (so what?)
Now eight years have flown by and out comes “Hardwired… To Self-Destruct”. It comes as a double CD with six original tracks on each or as a deluxe edition with an added third CD of covers (Iron Maiden and Deep Purple get the treatment), a crunching tribute to Ronnie James Dio, “Lords of Summer”, a single released in 2014 recorded live, and a selection of belting live songs old and new recorded at Rasputin Music, Berkley California in April 2016. Believe me, you want the deluxe box set!
Right when the blast of the opening track “Hardwired” hits you square in the chest, for the first time in years it sounds like a band that matters. This is the first release on Metallica’s own label Blackened Recordings and the first album to not include any writing credits for lead guitarist Kirk Hammett since he joined the band in 1983. (This was not done intentionally as Kirk Hammett lost his iPod with all his ideas on it just before they went into the studio.) But whatever, it pays dividends as with Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield holding the reigns it allows the guitarist to shred, shudder and smash his way through the many ear-shattering solos on the album.
This new release is really going to shake up the Metallica live set list, with many numbers already included in the showcase gigs they have played to promote the album. This is fine heavy metal from the lords of their chosen realm: from epic songs like “Moth into Flame” and “Here Comes the Revenge” to the all out thrash metal of “Spit out the Bone” -this last track closes the second CD and leaves you exhausted in its wake.
Robert Trujillo shows that he is now comfortable in the bass playing role, thundering away throughout the album, while any stupid questions about whether Lars Ulrich is good enough to be the drummer in Metallica are firmly put to rest. His drumming is one of the many highlights on the album.
James Hetfield still leads the band from the front but this time he has written proper lyrics with meaning and sings them with feeling. The whole album is a blast from start to finish and most promisingly, Metallica actually sound as if they are enjoying what they are doing for the first time in many a year.
It was released on 18th November 2016 and has hit number one in fifty seven countries already. Now you just cannot argue with that. Metallica have already sold over 110 million albums. With “Hardwired… To Self Destruct” that number is going to go way up.
(Written by Mott the Dog and Hells Bells)
Now That We’re Dead
Moth Into Flame
Dream No More
Halo on Fire
Here Comes Revenge
Am I Savage?
Spit Out The Bone
Lords of Summer
Ronnie Rising Medley
When a Blind Man Cries
Hit The Lights (Live)
The Four Horsemen (Live)
Ride the Lightning (Live)
Fade to Black (Live)
Jump in The Fire (Live)
For Whom The Bell Tones (Live)
Creeping Death (Live)
Melting Militia (Live)