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Released: 2016, Blackened
Reviewer: Helias Papadopoulos
Metallica’s new album is already out! HARDWIRED…TO SELF-DESTRUCT is probably the most unusual Metallica album title so far, but I like it.
First of all, in the current release, Metallica seems to have avoided the mistakes of the past. Let me make a small review on what has gone wrong back then; the first mistake the band made back then was the decision to return to a sound that ultimately it didn’t come out to them. And ST ANGER’s sound is the proof.
After that, Metallica wanted to be redefined as characters, as musicians and as a band as well. They tried to get back to an old school approach, but as usually happens when you do something by force, this is meant not to be top-level. The second one was the cooperation with Rick Rubin as their new album’s producer. We all know that Rick Rubin is an extremely good producer and has an amazing string of fabulous albums of all genres in his pocket, BUT Rubin’s style is not for Metallica. This band needs a producer who will gonna be their teacher and their mum together. And Rubin wasn’t that kind of producer. So, right years after, Greg Fidelman was probably a very good choice for the album’s production. And they were right. The sound of the tracks is amazing (Lars Ulrich snare drum is sounded quite good !!) except for Kirk Hammet’s guitar solos (I hate Kirk Hammet's wah pedal addiction-and the guitar solos are bad and lazy, man!). Greg Eidelman was “anointed” as the chosen one to take charge of the production and the work he did together with Hetfield / Ulrich is far better than its predecessor.
HARDWIRED…TO SELF-DESTRUCT is the result of a heavy band after 35 years of action. What I am supposed to say? Well done. As far as the album’s sound as a whole: it’s an album containing 12 songs (in both discs) of heavy songs, few are quick and few are more mid-tempo. It’s close to DEATH MAGNETIC in general as it is its successor, the style of the song are alike to LOAD (debacle?? Who said that? ) as we can spot the several Sabbath-ic elements as they did once again in 1996.
Let’s take a look into the tracks themselves and their style. The general feeling is that Metallica here try to combine elements from DEATH MAGNETIC, LOAD and …AND JUSTICE FOR ALL. The band adopts the gradual riff progression style that the band showcased at a slower tempo on BLACK ALBUM as far as the speed concerned and the styling of those slow riffs is taken by LOAD album. At the same time, mashed it together with the high octane aggression normally reserved to full out thrashers from the 80s like "Dyer's Eve" or "Battery". The sense of build up and release is extremely well accomplished, all the while steering clear of atmospheric gimmicks or unnecessary diversions into mid-paced territory. Hetfield's vocals actually sound fierce again rather than gelded, most likely due to Fidelman convincing him to give up on his quest to more clear ways of singing. Lars' drumming is also surprisingly well-produced, to the point of sounding like a drumming beast. That’s very cool (if you will listen to “Atlas, Rise!”, “Spit Out the Bone” and “Dream No More”, you will get what I am saying). I would like to say that Trujillo is much better than himself in DEATH MAGNETIC. I can listen to his bass lines easier than before and I dare to say that his baselines are comparable to Newsted’s ones.
At this point in their career we can't really expect them to experiment again because they have no reason to. I do feel that Metallica may just be on the road of recovery after all, because there are some good hints here; better production, better vocals, more audible bass (if barely), Kirk tries to sound like he's willing to make his solos a little more interesting again (unsuccessfully), and even Ulrich manages to overcome himself, sounding heavier.
Above all, HARDWIRED…TO SELF-DESTRUCT is unexpectedly a good album. So, we can afford ourselves some small hype I feel. Metallica did the right thing. They tried to hit the bottle again! They are on their way to success (explanation: success is not album’s charting on No.1 on Billboard 200). Metallica are hardwired to their self-destruct and their only competitor is themselves.
2. Atlas, Rise!
3. Now That We're Dead
4. Moth into Flame
5. Dream No More
6. Halo on Fire
3. Here Comes Revenge
4. Am I Savage?
5. Murder One
6. Spit Out the Bone
James Hetfield Vocals
Kirk Hammett Guitar
Robert Trujillo Bass
Lars Ulrich Drums
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