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Album Review: Metallica - Hardwired... to Self-Destruct

By Justin Cudahy, Contributor

[Blackened Recordings; 2016]

Rating: 6/10

Key Tracks: “Atlas, Rise!,” “Halo on Fire,” “Spit Out the Bone”

It’s safe to say that Metallica is one of, if not the most influential heavy metal band in all of music. Albums such as Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets are widely considered to be the band's best, as it established their genre of music right from the start. Unfortunately, since the start of the new century, the band has had trouble finding their roots, often pushing towards new techniques and ideas in their music, which has left many fans unhappy. Their latest album, Hardwired… to Self-Destruct sticks to that trend for the most part, but is still enough to leave listeners satisfied.

The double album clocks in at nearly an hour and a half, with each song averaging nearly six and a half minutes long. When people hear that, their biggest fear is that the songs may drag. In this case, many of the songs from Hardwired… do indeed drag, and there will be times where you’ll be waiting for the next song to start. Oddly enough, these same songs are very forgettable, which is never a good thing. One of the reasons for that problem is the fact that nearly every song sounds the same. The only thing that gives each track its own identity is the signature Kirk Hammett guitar solo which is subpar for the most part.

At this point, it may seem like Hardwired…to Self-Destruct is a truly bad Metallica album, but that is not the case. The drumming, provided by Lars Ulrich, is exhilarating, to say the least, and is fun to listen to. The power and speed that he hits the snare and bass pedal will make listeners question the durability of these drums, and wonder at what point will these things finally just give out. This remains consistent throughout the entire album, but many songs could often be overlooked because of another aspect that may ruin it, such as James Hetfield’s singing or Hammett’s playing throughout. However, during the times where Ulrich is supported by his other members do we get to hear some amazing tracks. Songs like “Atlas, Rise!” and “Halo on Fire” are some of Metallica’s best songs in recent memory. These tracks just radiate with nostalgia for fans, bringing them back to what some may consider their golden years.

Hardwired… to Self-Destruct is not a great Metallica album, but it’s the best one they’ve released in the new century. Despite its tendency to drag often, it doesn’t completely ruin the experience for listeners, with a few key tracks scattered throughout proving to fans that the band still has it.

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