Metallica Return With First New Record in 8 Years

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Metallica Return With First New Record in 8 Years

Image courtesy of Metallica and Blackened Recordings

Image courtesy of Metallica and Blackened Recordings

Image courtesy of Metallica and Blackened Recordings

Image courtesy of Metallica and Blackened Recordings

Jake Tharan, Entertainment Editor

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Titanic heavy metal juggernauts of yore Metallica presented their newest LP, Hardwired… To Self-Destruct to the world on November 18th , furthering a monumental musical empire.

Often labeled but continually revered, ‘tallica found time between greasing its multifaceted machine and riffing in Antarctica to deliver album number ten.

The group has spent the gap between studio efforts (their last record was 2008’s Death Magnetic) tending to endeavors such as their own IMAX film, curating the Orion Festival and accepting an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  To say that Metallica’s far-reaching career has enraptured many, faltered to some and confounded others is a whole other story in itself, but where does Hardwired fit into the tale?

The record details a concept that may have Orwellian prophesiers grinning: mankind faces some sort of an incipient doom but alas – Metallica possess the musical fortitude to foretell of our fates.  Apocalyptic fare is common ground for the band, as well as personal struggle, both of which are explored on their newest full length.

Album opener and first single “Hardwired” welcomes fans back with a short, fast thrash number complete with a humanity-be-damned chorus.  From here the record adopts the lurk of The Black Album and alludes to past triumphs like Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets. 

“Now That We’re Dead” features a plodding pace and induces a headbang through the verses.  “Moth Into Flame” doles out tempo changes and double-bass attacks while spreading lively solos and fills onto the canvas.  By this point in the album, those who yearn for Metallica to reprise their role as heralds of true thrash will have placed the latest Testament record under the needle and shelved this record.  The songwriting is truly not bad at all, but the delivery of the songs will serve as a bit of a letdown to fans looking for a harsh, unrestrained Metallica.

Those who continue to tune in will find mostly simplistic, direct songwriting prevalent in the tracks.  “Am I Savage?” finds a bluesy rhythm abiding its place while “Here Comes Revenge” toys with a pinch of “Leper Messiah” and Load era seasonings.  “Confusion” is an appropriate title as the song teases that it may be an old-school, balls out, battle-ready thrasher; but quickly recedes upon the first verse.  The album does finish strong with “Spit Out the Bone,” which finally ties the journey together with another fast-paced thrasher.

A definite high-point of the record is James Hetfield’s performance.  Papa Het delivers a strong vocal approach and wields a feisty rasp at the mic.  As is akin to his style; he continues to accentuate his words and syllables, making the listener shout out their best impression of his voice (listen to “Dream No More”).

On the other hand, for better or for worse, lead guitarist Kirk Hammett receives no writing credits on this record.  This explains the lack of eccentric soloing and wild-wah abuse, which are instead substituted with hard rock/blues solos.

In the eight long years since Death Magnetic, some have posed the question, “Has Metallica sullied their reputation?”  Underground metal fanatics have written them off as a has-been whose glory is constrained to their first four studio LP’s.  The 2011 release of their collaborative effort with Lou Reed furthered critics’ dismay with the group, with some claiming that Metallica may never recover from such a slouch.  But it seems that being saddled with the title of ‘biggest metal band on the planet’ invites critics of all colors – both in favor and against.

Hardwired is a double album but it does not function as such.  At 77 minutes, the album seems to fly by without picking up any passengers or intriguing the ears of those wanting to hop on board.  The record is destitute of any “whoa!” moments and seldom requires a playback to catch something you may have missed.  Still, this is certainly not a dismal album.  Rather, it is actually quite good–it just seems to stumble before engaging the listener.

Conversely, this new collection of songs deserves a few listens from anyone who is familiar with the band.  This is the ongoing evolution of a group that has damn near become synonymous with American culture, a band that transcends music fans and continues to draw reviews from the likes of The New York Times and even Esquire.  Demoting Metallica to entry-level pop rock that barely qualifies as music is a bit absurd.  A band that can pull in 40,000+ attendees to a concert in Cali the night before Super Bowl 50 has not lost relevance.  Hell, Hardwired gave Metallica their sixth(!) number one album after its first week of sales.

Simply put, Metallica will live on and Hardwired… To Self-Destruct is the next chapter.

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