Metallica – Looking Back To Move Forward

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I have a few thoughts on Metallica’s newest album Hardwired…To Self-Destruct. I have been a Metallica fan since 1987 so new music from one of my favorite bands is generally a great thing. Hardwired is a very solid collection of diverse metal songs. I must say that their previous album, Death Magnetic, is a much better record. However, Hardwired is far from being a disappointment. After the long layoff between albums I really did not know what to expect. But if I’m honest, after hearing Lords Of Summer back in 2014, I had low expectations.

Let me start off with the album cover and the various band photos inside of the booklet. Whose idea was this, these photo montages are kind of creepy. Perhaps the album cover will grow on me over time. If done differently this could have been a cool heavy metal album cover, instead it looks like a poster for a horror movie. As a big fan of album cover art I am disappointed. Metallica really has not had a great album cover since   …And Justice For All, back in 1988.

Now onto the music. Metallica have composed twelve songs that not only manage to pay tribute to their past, but also show a newer side of the band.  Throughout the twelve tracks one can hear nods to their prior albums, especially Kill ‘Em All, Master Of Puppets, The Black Album and Load. For my taste there may be a few too many nods to Load, but overall I really like where the band is going musically.

I love the confidence and diversity that Hetfield displays as a vocalist. I have always enjoyed his vocals on the prior albums. He has been among my favorite metal vocalists for a long time. But listening to these new songs I hear a level of confidence, vocally, that was not as apparent on prior albums.

Say what you want about Lars Ulrich’s drumming and his timing issues, in a live setting. It’s true that he has some troubles live, but he is an inventive and dynamic drummer, in a studio setting. Lars has never been on  my list of favorite drummers, but he always keeps the drums interesting. That is definitely the case on Hardwired.

I applaud Kirk Hammett for continuing to push himself on the guitar. He’s not content to rest on his laurels or his considerable skills. He continues to learn new things and push his skills on the guitar. He still favors the wah-wah pedal a great deal, but after all this time I have come to accept this as a part of his guitar stylings. He must be given some credit for becoming a bit more tasteful with his wah usage.

Bassist Robert Trujillo is along for the ride helping to hold down the very solid rhythm  section on display  throughout the album. Anyone that can keep up with Hetfield is a solid player and Trujillo is up to the task.

Overall Hardwired…To Self-Destruct is a great metal album. It is far from Metallica’s best album and it is far from their worst album. Like all of their albums this is a team effort.  That being said Hetfield continues to be the star of the band. He has layed down some excellent rhythm guitar and he really shines vocally.  I applaud the band for pushing themselves to the next level. The songs may not be as melodic or the riffs as memorable as prior albums, but this it the newest chapter of this great band. As a fan I am enjoying the journey.

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Troy T.

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