For metal fans, many would cite the death of bassist Cliff Burton of Metallica in 1986 as the beginning of the decline for the thrash metal icons. Three decades later, Metallica has experienced its fair shares of highlights and lowlights since Burton’s death, but all of these tribulations contributed to “Hardwired… To Self-Destruct,” the group’s 10th studio effort that encapsulates the almost 30-year history of the seminal metal group.
Clocking in at 77 minutes in its entirety, “Hardwired… To Self-Destruct” is one of the longest endeavors of the group, only falling behind 1996’s dismal “Load.” The album also marks another milestone: the longest time that the group has gone without releasing a record — a grand total of eight years. In the meantime, the group has offered glimpses through their social media pages, primarily Instagram, in terms of the progress made in the record’s inception.
While fans clamored for anything to supplement the critically mixed 2008’s “Death Magnetic,” Metallica delivered a string of singles that had any fan reminiscing of the golden days of 1986’s “Master of Puppets” and 1983’s “Kill Em’ All.”
While the song “Lords of Summer” gave the world its first snippet of a reinvigorated Metallica, “Hardwired” became the first single off the new record and certainly, the brutality in this number was worth the eight-year wait. Its frenetic pacing, set to the rhythmic proficiency in Lars Ulrich’s drumming, features everything that any Metallica fan would want, aggressive power chord styling and a dynamic guitar solo from Kirk Hammett.
“Moth Into Flame” calls upon the influence of “Ride the Lightning” with its harmonic guitar introduction and ingenious picking stylization during the chorus. Its anthemic nature cements the tune into the upper echelons of the group’s live catalogue and ushers in a pathway of progressivism for the sound of Metallica.
The highlight of the record comes from “Atlas, Rise!,” which mercilessly brings Metallica back to the forefront of the thrash metal scene. From the beginning verses to the breakdown, the four horsemen bring the apocalypse to an already loaded record in terms of vocals and lyrical content. One cannot simply imagine the end of times without this tune.
However, when the group slows down the tempo, the realization emerges that their unbending will after 30 plus-years has not altered. Compositions such as “Dream No More,” “Am I Savage?” and “Murder One” string the conscious together that eclipses the later half of the record, progressively slowing down from the breakneck speed of the first half of the record.
In terms of promise, Metallica delivers with “Hardwired… To Self-Destruct” and allows for greater potential and reward with future releases. While fans were led to disappointment over the past couple of records, “Hardwired… To Self-Destruct” is the destructively powerful record that makes Metallica a household name again.