At last, the longest wait between Metallica albums is over (discounting ‘Lulu’, obviously).
At just under 80 minutes, ‘Hardwired… To Self Destruct’ is intense, with the first disc dominated by singles that deliver an edifying insight into the complex riff-heavy collection often like a continuation of ‘Death Magnetic’. Elsewhere, ‘Halo On Fire’ is as an unexpected highlight with soft vocals reminiscent of ’90s grunge (never before heard from Metallica) and clean guitars that build into a melodic guitar solo. It’s the most refreshing cut, by far, though sure to discern purists.
More unforeseen turns come with ‘Am I Savage?’ — a doom-laden gem redolent of Black Sabbath, and token tribute to Lemmy Kilmister (‘Murder One’). The rest of the album is generally angry with trademark snarls, chugging guitars aplenty and drums that are a return to form — particularly on closer ‘Spit Out The Bone’: an all-guns- blazing finale that culminates with a rapturous guitar solo, sounding as though Kirk Hammett is struggling to keep up with himself, though his name is absent from the album’s credits.
Beginning and ending on a high note, ‘Hardwired…’ miraculously leaves the listener hungry for more, following an all-out binge on some of Metallica’s strongest work since 1991.
Words: Jonathan Hatchman
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