Hi folks. Today is the release of another long awaited album by one of my favourite and one of heavy metals biggest bands. In this case it is Metallica and their new album Hardwired… To Self-Destruct. I will talk about what has happened since they finished work on the 2008 album Death Magnetic to today and will get into the album track by track.
As for what happened between Death Magnetic and today? Well let’s see… Metallica released Death Magnetic on September 12th 2008, they went on tour and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009 and recorded and released an album with Lou Reed called Lulu in 2011. This album was really a chance for the band to not so much sit back but play while rolling around in the chaos of the music. They also served as a backing band, for Lou Reed and promoted the album with him. I thought it was funny to hear the Lou Reed and Metallica juxtaposition at first because when I heard the first single from the album The View, I was literally laughing throughout the track. It just sounded so silly to hear Lou Reed and his offbeat Cingular vocalizations, with Metallica backing him, with their disciplined musicianship. But I also realize this is something where the band can have fun and not worry about perfectionism. Not all of James Hetfield’s vocals were perfect but that’s the whole point. This album was art and it was Lou Reed as the artist and Metallica as a backing band. It’s good that they had the chance to work with such an icon as Lou Reed, before he died in 2013.
Also in 2013 another movie called Metallica Through The Never, along with another live album serving as the soundtrack was released. In 2012, another live DVD called Quebec Magnetic came out, just in time for Christmas that year.
Metallica issued an EP of songs which didn’t make Death Magnetic, called Beyond Magnetic in 2011 digitally and 2012 as a physical release. In 2013 they finally played on all 7 continents by playing on a boat in Antarctica. I remember listening to the concert on YouTube and thinking to myself that it must have been very cold for the band, while playing their instruments.
In 2014 they played with Chinese pianist Lang Lang and recorded a song for a Deep Purple tribute album in 2012. Oh, I can’t forget their contributions to tribute albums for Iron Maiden (Maiden Heaven) and Ronnie James Dio (Ronnie James Dio – This Is Your Life) as well as a single called Lords Of Summer, which was released in 2014. Most importantly for the band, they now have their own independent record label called Blackened Recordings which allows them the freedom of complete artistic control. As for distribution, there is major label distribution, otherwise Metallica has the final say on what goes out and when it will be let loose.
Also, most importantly for the fans who have gone digital, Metallica has all their albums on iTunes. I actually have them all but not in separate sets of songs but in one huge collection, except for a few live albums and one single, it’s all in “The Metallica Collection”, which consisted of all the studio albums from Kill ‘Em All to Death Magnetic. Also, S&M, Beyond Magnetic, Garage Inc, the single I Disappear and the Some Kind Of Monster EP were included. I can’t find it on iTunes anymore but I’m just glad I have as much as I could find, from Metallica’s discography on iTunes.
Most of the songs I have mentioned above I will be discussing later on because they are a part of the deluxe version of Hardwired… To Self-Destruct. Originally The third disc of the deluxe version of this album was going to consist of a bunch of riffs but thankfully, that was changed. Not that the riffs would have been a bad thing to hear but, it’s nice to collect non-album material and put them somewhere for the fans to have in their physical or digital collection of Metallica music, along with some more recent live material to show how the band sounds these days in a live setting.
About the new album… to start off with, it was produced, recorded and mixed by Greg Fidelman, who worked with the band on their last album Death Magnetic as an engineer. He also worked with Slipknot on their latest album .5: The Gray Chapter as a producer and also worked with the band on their 2004 album Vol. 3 The Subliminal Verses. He served, as the engineer and mixer, with Rick Rubin serving as producer for both Death Magnetic and Vol. 3 respectively. Hardwired is a continuation from the sound of Death Magnetic but there are other elements from Metallica’s past, which are also heard in the music at times. As I said, I will get more into detail on that when discussing each track on both the standard and deluxe versions of the album.
The title track and first single Hardwired… To Self-Destruct was released to both radio and iTunes on August 18th and I think I heard it 4 or 5 times on the radio that day. Then on September 26th Moth Into Flame was issued as the second single and the second track on iTunes then the track Atlas, Rise! Was issued on October 31st, both as the third single and as the third track released on iTunes. All 3 songs as well as the rest of the album will have music videos made for them and they will all be on YouTube.
Okay… it’s time to start talking about the new album in earnest and we will go through it track by track. I will talk about the music and leave the lyrics for the band to discuss if they feel it is necessary. As mentioned earlier, Hardwired… To Self-Destruct leads off the album as both the first single and as the lead-off track. It starts off the album as any Metallica album should, with a thrasher. It is also short, which is a surprise at 3 minutes and 11 seconds and thus, gets to the point quicker.
Atlas, Rise! Is a song which harkens back to the track Through The Never, in a way. It is in a different key but is the same tempo and has much the same intensity.
Now That We’re Dead is a song which is interesting because it reminds me of Cure from Load. In both songs you hear Lars inserting fills along with playing the beat. As a drummer I like that and think that would be a great jamming song live. As for the guitar riff, it sounds also like Cure or something else on Load or Reload, which isn’t a bad thing at all. It sounds like a more traditional metal song than a chugging riff. The melody certainly is singable but it isn’t one which is instantly memorable. It is one of those which has to grow on you. By the way, isn’t James’s lead vocal so good that it sounds like autotune? At first listen it may sound like it but I don’t think so because you can hear some vibrato from James when he sings. So, Metallica hasn’t ever used auto tune as yet.
Moth Into Flame also is another thrashy rocker which also marks the return of harmonized vocals, which wasn’t on Death Magnetic or much on St Anger either.
Dream No More is a slower song which is more reminiscent of Load or Reload because of the sonic elements more than anything else. If I had to find a song it would remind me of I would have to say The House Jack Built or Devil’s Dance. The House Jack Built because of the tempo and the feel of the song. Devil’s Dance because of how it stops just before the guitar solo and it stops at the end of each chorus. In this song it stops only before the guitar solo, with a breath from James to set it up.
All though it does have the groove of Sad But True. The main thing that stands out for me is the octave vocals that James does throughout most of the song. This has been heard in such songs as: The Memory Remains and That Was Just Your Life. I also like how they make you wait for the main riff and key of the song in the intro to it. The melody is good but isn’t hooky and has to grow on you, every time you hear it. However, I like the song over all.
Halo On Fire reminds me of Unforgiven 3 but without the intro with horns and piano. All though it could have and should have also fit nicely on Load or Reload because of the structure of the song itself. It’s good and I hope it gets a chance as a single.
I also like the key changes it goes through, from e minor to g minor to d minor near the end. That’s the musician in me talking and I will say more about the musical aspect later on.
Confusion sounds similar to Don’t Tread On Me but with a slightly fast tempo to start and end off the song. Then it gets into a 4-4 groove similar to Halo On Fire. This is another song along with Halo On Fire, which has harmonized vocals and well, that’s not a bad thing no matter what kind of Metallica fan you are.
ManUnkind starts off with a bass and guitar section and gets into a groove, similar to parts of To Live Is To Die. However this song is not an instrumental but it is in the same key as To Live Is To Die. Both songs change time signatures in the middle but go back to the main groove near the end. I think that is cool and should get a listen on radio.
Here Comes Revenge starts off sounding like it could be a continuation of Leper Messiah but goes into a groove, similar to most songs here. Maybe it could have fit nicely on either The Black Album or Load and Reload to spice things up. I like how the song changes key in the verse to g minor and goes back to the main key of e minor for the bulk of the song.
Am I Savage? is probably the most similar to a song like Poor Twisted Me, but without the blues based feel. It is heavier and has more of an early Black Sabbath feel to it.
Murder One starts off like Welcome Home (Sanitarium) in a way. However it goes into the groove right away. It also borrows from To Live Is To Die in that the same key is used and the tempo is similar. It is a great song in its own right, like everything else here.
Spit Out The Bone is a strait ahead thrasher, much like the title track. All though it is longer and has similarities to Dyers Eve and Damage, Inc. We also get to hear Rob Trujillo play a bit of a bass solo for himself. It also goes a bit Sabathy before the final guitar solo but goes back to the original gallop which is the main feature of this song. Again, another good song, recommended to me by a good friend of mine to check out.
Okay, now that we’ve gone through the standard 12 song 2 disk version, we will talk about most of the songs on disk 3. A rerecorded version of the previously released single Lords Of Summer starts off the third disk. This version has some altered lyrics in the chorus but is pretty much like the single that was released in 2014.
The Ronnie Rising Medley consisting of: A Light In The Black, Tarot Woman, Stargazer and Kill The King. All these songs Ronnie recorded with the band Rainbow before joining Black Sabbath in 1979. This also appears on the compilation Ronnie James Dio – This Is Your Life, released in 2014.
When A Blind Man Cries was first released on the compilation Re-Machined: A Tribute To Deep Purple’s Machine Head, which was released in 2012.
Remember Tomorrow was recorded for and released on an Iron Maiden tribute album called Maiden Heaven: A Tribute To Iron Maiden, which was only available in an issue of Kerrang Magazine and was released July 16th 2008. The rest are live tracks from the first 2 albums except for Helpless which is a Diamond Head cover and Hardwired… To Self-Destruct.
Over all, it is a great album which I think will please all sorts of Metallica fans because, it caters to those who like their early days from 1983 to 1988. However it also has flashes of some of their work in the ’90s such as Atlas, Rise! which I mentioned earlier and mostly everything else. So, if someone asks you which Metallica represents them the most, I say this one does to start off with.
This is also their first double album under their name, as a studio project. Others have been released as live albums or even Garage Inc. Lulu is also a 2 disk album but this is the first as a new Metallica studio double album. It really isn’t hard to think it wouldn’t happen because their last few albums have been an hour plus worth of music and this is no acxeption, clocking in at 77 minutes and 39 seconds. If it was released years earlier it would have probably been put on 1 CD, like Death Magnetic, Load, Reload and St. Anger. All those albums are over an hours worth of Metallica music. Why was it then released on 2 CD’s? My own theory is that this is the trend toward shorter albums to accommodate those who want to purchase the Vinyl version. Either way, I’d recommend any Metallica fan that they go out and purchase the album either online or at an old fashion record store, where they sell physical copies of the album. I have mine from iTunes and I purchased both the standard and deluxe versions because I wanted to have both in case there were differences in any of the songs on the standard version. This has happened a few times with either alternate versions of certain songs or alternate track listings. In some cases with iTunes the sound quality differs slightly from one version to the next. I found that out a few times so, that’s why I have both.
As for the musical aspect, I think it is well pu together and diverse enough for any aspiring music student to purchase and hear interesting chord changes and voicings, along with interesting key changes and modulations. If you are a musician or a music teacher and you’re reading this, you know what I’m talking about. Just take a look at my commentary on each song again and you’ll get an idea of why I find it musically interesting as well as sonically interesting. In fact I think all music teachers who are teaching high school students on a musical instrument like piano or guitar, composition or otherwise to take a serious look at the entire metallica catalog. If you listen to Faid to Faid To Black or any song with quiet passages you will hear what I mean.
As for the production, it is much better than the previous album because it is not so compressed and the snare drum is not distorted, when there are Phils. Also, I recommend using this album as test Music for stereo stores because the sound quality is that good.
For those of you who are worried that Metallica had gone off the rails, when working with Lou Reed or Lang Lang, your worries are unfounded and they have indeed delivered with a stellar album for 2016. Congratulations to: James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett, Robert Trujillo and everyone else involve with all aspects of this album. YOu have done good and I hope it goes strait to the No. 1 spot on the album charts. There isn’t a bad song on the whole album and I’m sure it is going to go over great live. Having your own studio allows you the time to create something as good as this and Metallica has certainly done that, thanks to having their own recording space and now their own record label. They are in complete control of their destiny and what ever goes wrong is on them and nobody else now.