After eight long years of anticipation from many rock, hardcore and punk fans alike, thrash metal pioneers Metallica return with their tenth studio album, Hardwired… to Self-Destruct.

Since their last studio album, Death Magnetic, the band have been busy touring, writing and recording during the longest break between albums in their 35 year career. In November 2011 bassist Robert Trujillo announced the band’s new material was being conceived alongside recording and producing mastermind Rick Rubin in the studio. Founding member and drummer Lars Ulrich also commented that the new release “certainly sounds like a continuation” of Death Magnetic.

Interestingly too, Hardwired… to Self-Destruct is the band’s first album to not feature any songwriting contributions from guitarist Kirk Hammett. Needless to say the hype around this album has been building so today we put it to the test – is it a hit, or is it shit?

‘Hardwired’ & ‘Atlas, Rise!’

The album kicks off with the first single from the album, ‘Hardwired’. The track truly encapsulates the band’s hard and fast style which brought them to popularity in the first place. The tried and true formula of body crushing blast beats and screaming guitar solos returns, giving the album a fantastic attacking opening track to give a taste of the monster double-LP. However, The lyrics in particular don’t hit the nail of originality on the head yet this track is certainly a mosh-pit pleaser.

Similarly ‘Atlas, Rise!’ keeps the headbanging going with a classic four to the floor beat while providing some fantastic fantasy and horror inspired lyrics from vocalist James Hetfield. The two opening tracks sure set the tone for the album as a whole while definitely acting as the first two hit singles.

Verdict: Hits

‘Now That We’re Dead’

Now That We’re Dead is one of the slower tracks of the album for more than a couple of reasons. The track opens up with a very Enter Sandman-esque back beat and riff structure. Again Hetfield returns with the Greek mythological influenced lyrics which are really the highlight of this track.

At six minutes long, too, the formula quickly becomes arduous to listen to. Not so say this is a terrible song, as fans of the band will enjoy the throwback to the band’s original sound, but in terms of originality ‘Now That We’re Dead’ falls short.

Verdict: Shit

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‘Moth Into Flame’

Halfway through the first disc, Moth into Flame is surely a floor mover and sports a somewhat pop-punk feel which is guaranteed to please fans of the band’s specific power and thrash styles, complete with a fantastic solo. Since this track branches out into the more mainstream pop-metal sphere it will please a larger audience making this track a hit.

Verdict: Hit

‘Dream No More & Halo On Fire’

‘Dream No More’ and ‘Halo On Fire’, the two closing tracks to the first disc, are a bit on the stoner-doom side of tempo and are much more of a groove compared to the hard and fast openers of the album. ‘Halo On Fire’ in particular sees the return of the choral, phased guitar and it has some pretty sick lyrics too.

While great tracks, they fall into the same trap as ‘Now That We’re Dead’ as they are a bit on the long side without many major changes keeping you on your toes. Yet points for nostalgia and the refreshing change in pace making these tracks a hit.

Verdict: Hits

‘Confusion’ & ‘ManUNkind’

Starting back again into the second disc, ‘Confusion’ triumphantly hits it off with a striking marching beat and blaring minor guitar tones. This track also takes the classic formula of loud leads, steady rumbling drums and a screeching guitar solo, a bonafide hit in out books.

‘ManUNkind’ kicks off with an ambient intro which is smashed into metal oblivion with a galloping beat and ‘angry at the world’ lyrics. This then changes up into a half-time beatdown, a unique twist that some of the tracks on the album could have used. ‘ManUNkind‘ is undoubtedly one of the standout tracks on the release, over-qualifying as an absolute hit.

Verdict: Hits

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‘Here Comes Revenge’ & ‘Am I Savage’

‘Here Comes Revenge’ is a super stoner and even black metal anthem with a fat and hard hitting chorus part alongside subdued and ambient sections between. Hetfield delivers with the epitomal Metallica style horrific and violent lyrics. This track is a hit for it’s mixed up feel and variance from the rest of the album.

‘Am I Savage’ is on the slower side too, back into the doom feel yet while providing a fresh syncopated groove. Again though slow for more than one reason, sometimes the fakeout finishes make you wish the song was actually over. Still the mixed up feel and wailing lead guitar wins you back over making this track a hit.

Verdict: Hits

‘Murder One’

Ambient choral guitar makes a reappearance while cut with blaring blast beats followed by a pattern of linear metal riffs in ‘Murder One’, coming to a close of the 80 minute LP. Unfortunately ‘Murder One’ relapses into the same four to the floor beat, however, it also maintains the classic Metallica sound which the true fans will appreciate. This track is not shit by any means but when it comes to originality again, ‘Murder One’ falls slightly short.

Verdict: Indifferent?

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‘Spit Out the Bone’

The ender, ‘Spit Out the Bone’ has to be one of the fastest and most brutal tracks the band have put out since their debut Kill Em’ All. The track flaunts tight and powerful blast beats which garnered Metallica their power metal title in the first place.

‘Spit Out the Bone’ has a ‘blow your head off’ sound which will make anyone’s feet move and head bop. Topped off with an absolutely face melting solo from Kirk Hammett, the tune is a spectacular hit.

Verdict: Hit

Final Verdict

The album in its entirety is 80 minutes of pure thrash, doom and – most importantly – heavy metal. There are almost no breaks in the pure mayhem of tasty guitar licks, fast-paced blasting drums and powerful vocals. For an eight-year wait, the album has absolutely lived up to the hype from Metallica and metal fans alike, just awaiting to see what the band had in store for so long.

In places the album runs dry in originality, making up for used riffs with long running track lengths. For Metallica fans though, this album will bring a lot of nostalgia and fond memories of teenage rebellion by listening to Black Sabbath and Megadeth in a dim bedroom.

The Metallica formula lives on in Hardwired… to Self Destruct, a modern day metal hit in our books.


Hardwired… To Self-Destruct is out today, everywhere, through Blackened Recordings.

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