Metallica is ‘Hardwired… to Self-Destruct’ (2016) and to write timeless thrash metal music

Metallica is one of the few bands that has provided the soundtrack to my childhood and teen-years – basically, since I discovered them in the late 80s with …And Justice For All, fell in love with their energy through the Black Album and evolved with the Load/Reload albums. However, with the irritating St. Anger and the nauseating Some Kind Of Monster movie the unshakable metal-gods image I had of Metallica started to crumble. I tried to objectively listen to St. Anger, but couldn’t help but thinking the music and production were less than mediocre. Then in 2008, Death Magnetic came, and the same applied to that album as well. And I really, really tried hard to simply rely on my sense for good music. No luck. But, I must admit, that their 2011-EP release Beyond Magnetic did catch my attention. Something about those 4 songs that I simply liked…

Fast-forward 5 years: It’s 2016 and Metallica releases their 10th studio album Hardwired… to Self-Destruct, an album that sounds like an ode to their first 5 albums and thrash metal glory days – at least in my ears (and heart). The double album consists of 12 well-balanced songs that combine good old thrash metal with a contemporary production. I find the songwriting to be consistent, given that James Hetfield (vocals/guitar) and Lars Ulrich (drums) basically wrote the whole thing together without including Kirk Hammett (lead guitar) and Robert Trujillo (bass) much. But, I don’t think it’s a bad thing. Again, I like the consistency of the mood and feel.

It feels good to listen to new Metallica music and enjoying it. Maybe it’s my subconscious finding parallels between Hardwired… to Self-Destruct, Kill ‘Em All, …And Justice For All, and the Black Album. But that’s surely okay. Hardwired… to Self-Destruct is one of the greatest comeback albums that I have heard in a very long time. Not only has Metallica been able to write timeless thrash metal on this album, it has also rekindled my enthusiasm for their music.

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“Like Death Magnetic, Metallica’s [Hardwired… to Self-Destruct] is an attempt to revisit their early days. The only difference is that this time they sound like they’re actually trying, and maybe even having a bit of fun.” – Zoe Camp, pitchfork.com

“Sure, [Hardwired…to Self-Destruct is] patchy and not at all consistently great, but there’s a looseness throughout that hasn’t been present since the 1990’s, but here without the cringe-worthy self-indulgence of “Fuel” or – god for-fucking-bid – Marianne Faithfull.” – Jeremy Ulrey, metalinjection.net

“Messrs Hetfield, Ulrich, Hammett and Trujillo can look proudly at Hardwired… to Self-Destruct as the band’s finest offering in a decade and second-best studio LP in two decades (second only to 1997’s ReLoad).” – Karan Pradhan, firstpost.com

“The mostly epic-length tracks – almost entirely written by drummer Lars Ulrich and singer-guitarist James Hetfield – are melodically assured furies of serial riffing and tempo shocks.” – David Fricke, rollingstone.com

Sebastiano Mereu

YouTuber + host of the #FHTZ online music show with co-producer @simonkurt + marketing & digital content producer + university lecturer