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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews


Hard Wired...To Self Destruct

Review by Mike Korn

Plagued by over a decade of rather tepid heavy metal, Metallica made a strong push to reclaim some of their glory on their last album “Death Magnetic” and did a reasonable job of it. Then came the travesty “Lulu” with Lou Reed - back to square one.

I am certain that die-hards who live in the 80s will still refuse to give the band credit for anything, but Hard Wired…To Self-Destruct is a very big step back in the right direction. The record has the richest and most full-bodied production since The Black Album…Robert Trujillo’s bass sounds nice and fat and even Lars’ drumming is crisp. The guitar tone is excellent. For a band at the top of the world, it’s amazing that Metallica has had so much trouble getting an excellent production. There are no worries about that here, though.

As for the material, a lot of it is really in the tradition of the more commercial Metallica, but delivered with occasional bursts of their thrashy past as well as epic, proggy moments. The album is not ground-breaking by any means. I sure wouldn’t rate it alongside the band’s first three records, but it’s a very enjoyable listen and the guys sound relaxed and at ease with their music. This is definitely worth a pick up.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2017  Volume 2 at

Track by Track Review
Hard Wired

Starting with an onslaught of choppy riffing, this turns into a crisp number with a thrashy bite to it. It’s the shortest and punchiest tune on the album. The profane lyrics describe perfectly how many feel about the nightmare political landscape we find ourselves in. This grabs your attention from the get go with a ton of energy.

Atlas, Rise
The speed drops here, but this has a very crunchy mid-paced chug to it. The vocal lines on the  chorus are phenomenally catchy. I’d say this is the hookiest tune on the whole album and a new classic. Very pleasant guitar soloing from Kirk Hammet is featured here.
Now That We’re Dead
This is a longer tune that resembles the more commercial Metallica of The Black Album and Load but with a little added punch. There’s an overall gloomy feeling to this one with trudging but catchy riffs. It’s a bit more complex than what has gone before.
Moth Into Flame
Another song with a lot of forward momentum and a really memorable chorus, Hetfield handles the twisting and rather bitter lyrics well…”Same Rise and Fall/Who Cares at All?/Seduced by the Fame/A Moth into The Flame.”
Dream No More
This is the latest tune inspired by Metallica’s fascination with Cthulhu. For a song dealing with a monster destroying the world, this is pretty upbeat and catchy, with a thumping, almost stoner type riff that would have fit well on The Black Album. Robert Trujillo’s bass playing really comes into its own here, providing a rubbery groove that propels the song forward.
Halo On Fire
As the longest track on the album, this may test your patience. It starts out quite mellow and gradually builds up steam. There are some almost proggy touches here, like a mix between commercial Load material and the longer epics on Death Magnetic. Not one of my favorites, this still has its moments.
This killer track has the feel of something that could have been on Master of Puppets. It’s got a powerful mid-paced chug with some strong vocal lines and a great mid-section. The lyrics are also very hard-hitting, dealing with the trauma of soldiers that return from the battlefield - “Confusion/All Sanity is Now beyond Me/Crossfire Ricochets Inside Me/Trapped In a Memory Forever.”
Beginning moodily, this swiftly switches to an incredibly catchy bouncing riff. This is another tune that generally sounds like the more commercial Metallica output but with a very heavy backbone. I’d say there’s even a Sabbathy feel to this tune.
Here Comes Revenge
This continues in the same vein as the previous track but not quite as effective. Trujillo again whips up a cool bass line and Hammett’s soloing is good, but it just kind of sounds like the typical modern Metallica song.
Am I Savage?
I really like the chunky riff on the verses of this song, but outside of that, this is probably the least effective tune on the album. To me it just sounds like an out-take from Load or ReLoad. The lyrics seem to deal with lycanthropy.
Murder One
This moody tune is intended as a salute to the deceased metal hero Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead. I would have thought something more upbeat and aggressive would have fit that tone. Still, this has some catchy moments and pretty bluesy licks from Kirk Hammett.
Spit Out The Bone
Wow! This rager proves that Metallica can still thrash with the best of them when they put their mind to it! This comes out smoking from the very first, at the same velocity as “Blackened” or even “Whiplash." Despite the sheer aggression, it still has some of that smoother feel of latter day Metallica. In short, this is the perfect capper to a generally enjoyable album.
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