Metallica – Hardwired…To Self-Destruct
Thrash Metal | Heavy Metal
Metallica’s curious career has been a tale of two halves. Their first five albums are all absolute classics that helped define metal as a genre, but since the landmark Black Album the band have seriously been stuck in a rut. I know many people who would rank St Anger and Lulu amongst the worst albums ever released. Thus Hardwired, with artwork that was basically conceived as “Foo Fighter’s Wasting Light but angrier!”, sits in a unique position. It could never live up to Metallica’s glory days but at the same time after their recent string of duds just about anything half decent would seem like a return to form. After leaving fans waiting for a new album for 8 years the end result turns out to be more than just decent, there are moments here that reflect the band at their very best.
The opening title track is brimming with energy, the Iron Maiden-esque ‘Atlas, Rise!’ features some of the most impressive melodic guitar work in years and ‘Moth Into Flame’ combines heaviness, experimentation and accessibility so well that it would fit perfectly within the illustrious Black Album. The issues with Hardwired arise from the fact that it’s a double album, and that most of its finer moments are within the first half. The second half sadly feels lumbering and uninspired, albeit with the notable exception of album closer ‘Spit Out The Bone’ which I will boldly say ranks up there with their best work. If the band had cherry picked the best tracks this would hand on heart be considered a full-blooded return to their classic sound, but even in its current convoluted form it is still Metallica’s best album in a quarter of a century.