In 1981 emerged Metallica, a band that to this day contributes to the metal genre with material to survive the ages. The band grew rapidly, marking the world with it’s heavy-metal thrash sound. Metallica’s fan base widened with albums like ‘Ride The Lightning‘, ‘Master Of Puppets‘ and ‘…And Justice For All‘. The band’s onward surge came to a long-standing head in 1991, with the band’s self-titled ‘Metallica‘ also known as ‘The Black Album‘. After massive success with these albums, and also sans-hair, Metallica finished the 90’s with ‘Load‘ and ‘Reload‘, which had a different sonic feel, and mixed response among fans. The band forged on in the early millennium with ‘St. Anger‘ and later ‘Death Magnetic‘. The band has several other releases alongside the latter to add to a plethora of goodness for any metal head. Though sonically Metallica seems to have changed and evolved over time, their power has kept tons of loyal fans, finally bringing us up to date with their latest work.

Hardwired…To Self-Destruct‘ contains 12 tracks and is about just over an hour of music. The album was released on November 18th, 2016, with videos and behind the scenes footage to accompany it. The opening track, ‘Hardwired immediately brings one back to guitar layers reminiscent of the early Metallica age. The album immediately demands attention, with a tempo like the speed of a machine gun. It lets the audience know that Metallica means business, while calling out to moshers everywhere. Though ‘Hardwired‘ is the shortest track on the album time wise, it certainly isn’t lacking and gets straight to the point lyrically.

The second track, ‘Atlas Rise‘ continues with a slower tempo, but Ulrich smashes those cymbals during the chorus akin to the god of lightning himself. ‘Now That We’re Dead‘ contains some solid rhythm guitar, while Hetfield urges the listener to “Light it up!”. ‘Moth Into Flame‘ continues the sonic journey, a bridge straight to ‘Dream No More‘, which has a dark, ephemeral intro to tell a tale of what could be certain doom. Lyrically, the listener is plunged into a narration of madness, akin to a load-esque track.

Halo On Fire‘ is just over eight minutes, and is the longest track on the album. The track pulls the sonic mood down even darker into the depths of the album, leading right into ‘Confusion‘. The intro for the track is like a military march into insanity, with the congruent lyrics, “the war that never ends....”. ‘ManUNkind‘ opens with a very melodic bass line, picking right back up to the power and aggression of before. This track puts humanity under a microscope, and touches thematically on human nature. Hetfield lyrically begs the question with the first track, but delves into it more here. ‘Here Comes Revenge‘ and ‘Am I Savage‘ slows down a bit, and sets the stage for ‘Murder One‘.

After all that power, emotion, rage, and all those blunt lyrics, Metallica clearly aren’t done yet. ‘Spit Out The Bone‘ is a wake-up call that concludes the album with just as much life and urgency as it began with. Stamina is the word here. Over time, Metallica have built up some musical stamina. Though there are solid elements of the earlier heavy-metal Hetfield/Ulrich framework sound, ‘Hardwired…To Self-Destruct‘ integrates all of Metallica’s acquired elements as a whole, in a solid harmonious work. The album stays true to power chords and Hammett‘s solo work, and is in no way a regurgitation of old material; it is fresh, renewed Metallica for all fans old and new alike. And with this album, Metallica prove that as a unit they are certainly not going to self-destruct any time soon.

***Review based on Spotify version

Malinda Mansfield