Heavy metal band Metallica cuts through alloy with new album

Updated: Jan 12, 2017, 11:31 IST | Wriddhaayan Bhattacharyya |

Heavy metal band Metallica restores respect and fanfare after eight years through their new album, Hardwired...To Self-Destruct, launched recently

James Hetfield (left) and Kirk Hammett at a Metallica concert. Pic/AFP
James Hetfield (left) and Kirk Hammett at a Metallica concert. Pic/AFP

When bands are changing gears and absorbing electronic sounds to keep up with time, Metallica — one of the heavy metal greats — boarded a time machine to revert to their teenage years through their latest production, Hardwired...To Self-Destruct (Blackened Recordings). The sound flies to the early ’80s when Dave Mustaine (Megadeth) co-wrote a few tracks for the band. The content of the album is borrowed in bulk from Ride The Lightning and Kill ’Em All — the debut album of the band.

If Hardwired, the title track, resurrects the vintage thrash metal mood, Moth Into Flame will remind one of the signature Metallica riffs that took shelter inside some dark cavern, resulting in the band’s decline towards early 2000. The 12-track, two-disc record is by far the best album of the band since 1991 when The Black Album released; a resurgence of sorts for James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett and Robert Trujillo, who were written off as mediocre towards the latter half of their career. Death Magnetic, their last album, had released in 2008.

What we liked
The root of Metallica lies in thrash — a blend of crunchy riffs, locked drums and bass, shredding-style solos, melodic lines, aggression and attitude. Hardwired…To Self-Destruct is a flashback. The title track is emblematic of the primordial epoch of thrash metal. During several interviews, the band had referred to themselves as being ‘impulsive’, which steers the psyche of thrash. There are tracks like Atlas, Rise! and Moth Into Flames, filled with luminous cross solo playing — on the lines of Iron Maiden (akin to The Trooper). The use of ‘wah’ pedal, if heard without the thought of the new album in head, is a straight continuation of Enter Sandman. The energy doesn’t drop in the second disc at all. Murder One (tribute to Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead), Spit Out The Bone and Confusion are the tracks to watch out for. The temper of the album fluctuates between bluesy triplets to chaos-inducing jabs. The best part about the album is Hetfield’s voice, the 53-year-old could not sound any better.

What we didn’t like
It is a rare album, why? There is not a single song by Hammett. His fans wanted him to write one tune at least. Apparently, he lost his iPhone that had 250 scratch riffs recorded for the album. Though he couldn’t contribute to the nostalgia, it didn’t deter him from joining the mission. He takes solo playing to a new level in Confusion. The songs have their moments but they tend to lose the plot, succumbing to the length. The highlights do not last long.

Still, this album is a gift for the loyal fans. If you thought you wouldn’t buy any of their albums post the disastrous St Anger (2003), they are back to prove you wrong.

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