METALLICA — Hardwired... to Self-Destruct (review)

METALLICA — Hardwired... to Self-Destruct album cover Album · 2016 · Heavy Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3/5 ·
Now, don't get me wrong, I love Metallica. I didn't mind them going alternative rock. I didn't mind them playing with an orchestra. I didn't mind them using trash cans for snares. But the only thing I've considered a detriment to all their albums since the mid-90's is that they're all so bloody long! And that has never been more evident than with 'Hardwired... To Self Destruct'.

The thing is, eight-minute songs (and longer) worked for the band back in the day, but since the rise of Dream Theater and progressive metal since the early 90's, it really feels like a field in which Metallica can't compete anymore. And in fact, maybe they were better suited to the stadium anthem vibe of 1991's self-titled album, because every song having a ridiculously and unnecessarily long intro, or intricate musical passages that feel like the band are just going through the motions, is getting a bit tedious now.

Criticisms aside, 'Hardwired...' follows on from 2008's 'Death Magnetic', in which Metallica have readily accepted a return to being a (thrash?) metal band. The music is heavy and fast, with lots of tasty riffs and each member really trying to get the most out of their somewhat limited musical prowess. Highlights include 'Moth Into Flame', which is one kickass tune, 'Now That We're Dead', 'Atlas, Rise', 'Spit Out the Bone' and 'Halo On Fire'. All of which are decent tracks that have the makings of great songs, but suffer from the aforementioned duration issues.

Special editions of this album came with a third disc, but there isn't much to write home about here. A bonus track (which goes on for too long), a few covers from various tribute albums, none of them are overly inspirational, and nine live tracks of songs we've already heard countless live versions of, make this hardly worth the investment.

After all that, however, 'Hardwired...' isn't a terrible album. It does show a lot of promise at times, but it really gives off an impression that Metallica aren't fully engaged with what they're doing unless they're trying something new or challenging themselves. Going alternative rock, playing with orchestras, theatrical movies, collaborations... seems like anything that takes them out of their comfort zone is really where they're most comfortable. While 'Hardwired...', to Metallica anyway, is just another metal album.
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