Metallica is, and has been, the biggest name in metal music ever since they formed back in 1981. For 35 years, they have stayed consistently heavy, despite some minor detours back in the 1990’s with the hard rock and blues inflected Load albums. With their previous album Death Magnetic, they had some promising moments. The hype for Hardwired, therefore, was massive, especially with the first two singles they put out: “Hardwired” and “Moth Into Flame”, which are both fantastic; “Hardwired” with its unabashedly throwback sound, and “Moth Into Flame” which sounds like it could have been the number #1 single off of their Load-era albums.
The consensus thus far is that Hardwired…To Self Destruct lives up to the hype. I will go one further: not only is it a serious contender for metal album of the year, but it is easily one of Metallica’s top 5 albums. They are firing on all cylinders, and the songwriting is diverse and fantastic.
It opens with the song “Hardwired”, which is about as old school authentic Metallica as one could wish for, with its thrashing guitars and two-step drumming. “Spit Out The Bone” is another thrash masterpiece, which features a similar riff to the one that hardcore punk legends Bad Brains used on their song “Sailin On”. “Moth Into Flame” is a well-written song which is as catchy and melodic as it is inducing to headbanging. “Confusion” is another song that sounds old school, that is reminiscent of Ride The Lightning-era songs, and it is an updated version of the anti-war “One” from And Justice For All. In fact, most of the album has an old school sound to it. If Master Of Puppets is your favorite Metallica album (which it is to most people), then you will not be disappointed, and you will be pleasantly surprised.
There are really no bad songs on Hardwired…To Self Destruct. Everything flows together well, and the album sequencing is perfect. James Hetfield still has the best guitar-picking hand in metal, and he bangs out 8th or 16th note riffs as easily as Kirk Hammett nails amazing leads. Lars Ulrich, for as much backlash as he gets, still has his trademark drumming which is heavy on fills and offbeat cymbal hits. And Robert Trujillo is still holding down the low-end, giving Hardwired a tight rhythm section to anchor the blazing guitar work.
Most Metallica albums (and most albums in general) usually have filler or throwaway songs, if only one or two. Hardwired, on the other hand, has no such moments: every song was obviously considered a potential single, and stands alone on their own merits. Further evidence of this is the fact that Metallica released music videos for EVERY song on the album, which is a genius marketing move that will further the perception of Hardwired… being a great album from beginning to end. The last Metallica album that was 10/10 from start to finish was the “Black Album”, and the only other album that could be considered that would be, obviously, Master Of Puppets.
Hardwired…To Self Destruct is easily the best Metallica album since the “Black Album”. And, if you aren’t a fan of the Black Album, for whatever reason, there’s this: Hardwired… is Metallica’s most thrash metal album since the 30 year old Master Of Puppets. Hardwired is a brilliant album, and will certainly stand among Metallica’s finest musical moments.