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Saturday, 19 November 2016

Review: Metallica (Review By Paul)

Metallica: Hard Wired...To Self Destruct (Blackened)

If you were around when Episode 4 hit the cinema for the first time, the anticipation for episodes 1-3 and the excellent number 7 could just not match that first time you saw the titles roll across the screen back in 1977. Why the Star Wars analogy? Well, because it’s here. The tenth album by the biggest metal band on the planet. The first since 2008’s Death Magnetic. And like Episode 3, for those of us around in the early 1980s, early Metallica was just ball dropping and any new shit just doesn’t fully compare. But that’s not to say this is a crap album. Far far away from that.

Like Star Wars it’s been almost impossible to ignore the launch and unless you are a real elitist then it is still something to get a bit excited about. And in the main it is worth the wait. The haters are going to state that it isn’t Kill, Ride, Master or Justice and the main streamers are going to be disappointed that it isn’t Black part II. But it is Metallica, it stomps hard and heavy and contains a couple of pretty choice cuts.

Produced by Greg Fidelman alongside Papa Het and Lars Ulrich, Hardwired is the first album since 1983 not to feature any compositions with any input from lead guitarist Kirk Hammett who allegedly lost his phone containing over 250 riffs. So we rely on the writing prowess of the main engine of the band, Hetfield and Ulrich with only ManUNkind having the additional input of bassist Robert Trujillo.

We already know three of the tracks that we’ve been drip fed over the past couple of months. Album opener Hardwired kicks hard, a ballsy three-minute blast to grab your attention. Yeah baby, Metallica are back in your yard. This is quickly followed by the aggressive Atlas, Rise! A six-minute power drive that grows on you quicker than mould on a damp wall, hooks galore and some pounding riffage. Now That We’re Dead is weaker but still grounds the stomp on your sorry arse whilst Moth Into Flame is just a beast.

Massive riffage, shredding guitar work from Hammett and Papa Het’s instantly recognisable vocal snarl. This is James Hetfield in 2016, not 1985 and his voice has changed. Substantially. It’s all good so far though with Lars’ drumming big, bold and as in your face as always. I’ve never understood the hate for this man’s drumming. Live he’s always cut it and on record he delivers what he needs to do. Dream No More returns to the Sad But True feel and the eight minute plus of Halo On Fire allows the frenetic pace to calm just for a second or two before munching you into a curled ball of sweat. Side one, not bad. Not bad at all.

Side two contains a little bit more filler, opener Confusion is powerful and heavy but ManUNkind is routine fare. It’s here that you suddenly realise that every song bar one is over six minutes in length and you begin to wonder where it’s going to lead. Here Comes Revenge threatens to return to Puppets era with a couple of promising hooks and some screeching opening guitar but it turns into a bit of a bloated trip, albeit one you can rock along to. Am I Savage? is confusing. It might be one of the best tracks on the release, moving about as far away from the stable sound as you can get and I like the jazz fused intro which ignites the waning fires of interest. It’s a smouldering beast that builds majestically, slower than usual and dare I say it, shades of Megadeth in parts.

The final two tracks are chalk and cheese. Murder One, the tribute to Lemmy is well intentioned but the weakest track on the release, plodding where it should be racing and lyrically both brilliant and dreadful. But Spit Out The Bone? Holy fuck. The heaviest thing Metallica have done for years, a full out thrash fest and a return to the days of Battery and Fight Fire With Fire. It opens frantically, pauses for breath and then kicks the hell out of you. Blasting drumming, crunching riffs and Trujillo’s bass rolling all over this bad boy. Yeah! This is the good shit alright.

I’ve listened to this album about six times already and it’s a real grower. For a band with nothing to prove it’s a damn decent release. Better than Death Magnetic? Probably. Not as good as the early stuff. Who gives a fig. The Metallica machine is moving again. Get on board or get the fuck off. They don’t care. 8/10

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