After eight years, metal fans like myself were thrilled to see the release of a new Metallica album titled Hardwired… To Self-Destruct on November 18, 2016— and we were not disappointed.
Metallica has always been one of the better known metal bands, known even to those who don’t regularly listen to the genre.
The band consists of vocalist and guitarist James Hetfield, drummer Lars Ulrich, lead guitarist Kirk Hammett, and bass guitarist Robert Trujillo. Only Hetfield and Ulrich have been there since the very beginning, but the band still works well together, creating fantastic and meaningful music, which is exemplified in their most recent album.
The singles released beforehand raised the bar, as there was already an improvement from the past few albums. In metal, it is easy to lose quality of music in the attempt to make it louder or heavier. Metallica fell into this trap with their albums Load, Reload, and St. Anger, but with “Hardwired,” they are taking a step back towards the glory days.
Since the album titled Metallica in August 1991, the band has seen a decline, but this could be their redemption. Of course there have been good songs in each album, even some favorites of mine, but as a whole, Metallica hasn’t been doing so great- which is why everyone has been hyped up for “Hardwired.”
Though this is not their best album, as Master of Puppets holds that title with a strong grip, “Hardwired” is pretty far up the list. I was raised on Metallica’s earlier music, when they were at their peak, so I have high standards for the band.
When I first listened to the new album, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was disappointed- I heard a lot of noise, and not a lot of the depth I’d become familiar with. But, upon closer listening, I’ve found songs that really resonate with me.
Of course the more popular songs, released before the album itself, are fun to rock out to in the car or to drown out the noise of life, songs like “Now That We’re Dead,” and “Dream No More” resonate more clearly with me.
In the song “Now That We’re Dead,” Hetfield sings of wishing to live eternally in heaven together with his love, with the lyrics “When darkness falls/ May it be/ That we should see the light.”
Referencing religion and mythology is common in their music, as seen in “Dream No More,” with the repetition of the phrase “Cthulhu awaken” throughout the song. In addition to this reference to a mythological creature, they are also referencing a previous song from the album Ride The Lightning, titled “The Call of Cthulhu,” which many long time fans will recognize.
Another song titled “Confusion” sends messages about war, using the term “shell-shocked,” begging for a girl’s father to come home, describing life as “The war that never ends.”
Repeatedly throughout this album, songs are being sung about eternal damnation, and wishing to see the light. These dark themes run consistently throughout the album, until the last song.
The final song on the album is titled “Lords of Summer,” and it describes a cruel winter, until “At last the thawing has begun,” saying to “Come trade your darkness for the sun.” This song is representative of the band itself- the darkness of their decline in popularity is traded for the sun of their return.
With this song at the very end of the album, we get a sense of conclusion; Metallica is back— no gimmicks this time, just great music.
While this album is not their best ever, it still earns a solid 8.5/10. My initial disappointment has been long revisited, and I strongly believe that this album is some of Metallica’s best work. Long time fans will enjoy it, and it may even attract some younger fans like myself.