Written by Alex Stojanovic
Now That We`re Dead
Moth Into Flame
Dream No More
Halo On Fire
Here Comes Revenge
Am I Savage
Spit Out The Bone
Release Date: November 18, 2016
Label: Blackened Recordings
James Hetfield - Lead vocals & guitars Lars Ulrich - Drums Kirk Hammett - Lead guitars Rob Trujillo - Bass & backing vocals
Overall, the album is a successful amalgamation of Load, Black Album, And Justice For All, Ride The Lightning and Master Of Puppets, creating a diverse and heavy thrill-ride. Several songs on here are comparable to some of the old classics. As far as the performances go, James Hetfield continues to provide quality riffs and great vocal performances. Even though there are no songwriting contributions from Kirk Hammett for the first time since Kill 'Em All, he still delivers fantastic, memorable solos like only he can. Lars Ulrich's drumming has always been a topic of debate. Much like his performance on Death Magnetic, his performance here is not spectacular but it's not bad. It remains in the middle. Finally, Rob Trujillo continues to provide thunderous bass and impeccable chops.
There's a very promising start to the record with "Hardwired". It may be the shortest song on the record, but it's one blazing thrasher and can sit alongside "Metal Militia", "Fight Fire With Fire" and "Battery" as one of the best Metallica thrash songs. This is followed by "Atlas, Rise", which feels like a tribute to Iron Maiden. There's a number of riffs on here that give a huge nod to Maiden. "Now That We're Dead" is undoubtedly the catchiest song on the record. It definitely sits alongside the better tracks on Load and Reload, and Trujillo's bass really snarls here.
"Dream No More" is the point where the album heads into Black Album/Load territory. It feels like a hybrid of "Sad But True" and "The Thing That Should Not Be" and there's also a slight Alice In Chains flavour in the vocal department, mainly in the verses. Then we come to what is one of the album's strongest moments, and that is "Halo On Fire". It's the longest track here clocking in at 8:15 and it's filled with potent grooves and melodies, as well as a great catchy sing-along chorus. It begs to be played live.
We see Metallica paying tribute to Lemmy on "Murder One" with references to several Motorhead songs. There's no doubting that Lemmy would've approved of this track. R.I.P Lemmy. Closing out the album is "Spit Out The Bone". There are just so many elements on this raging beast of a tune that scream "old-school Metallica", especially the blazing riffs and the bass lead paying tribute to Cliff Burton with the distorted tone. The song as a whole is a riff-fest and feels like it belongs on And Justice For All. Vocally, Hetfield hasn't sounded this gnarly in a long time. This is not only one of the best songs on the album, but possibly the best Metallica song in the last 25 years.
Of course the album isn't perfect. There are a couple of weak links, namely "ManUNkind" and "Am I Savage". With pretty bland and uninspired riffs, they lack the captivating hooks that are found in the other tracks. I also feel that some of the stronger songs could've been trimmed down length-wise by cutting out a few bars of certain riffs. Hardwired...To Self-Destruct will not silence Metallica's legions of detractors, but there's something on here for everyone. When you're the biggest metal band in the world, you've earned the right to write exactly what pleases you. I cannot wait to see Metallica live again in the new year! I just really hope that it doesn't take another 8 years for the next album.
Highs: "Hardwired", "Atlas, Rise", "Now That We're Dead", "Moth Into Flame", "Halo On Fire", "Spit Out The Bone"
Lows: "ManUNkind" and "Am I Savage".
Final Rating: 9/10