Monday, September 16, 2019

Album review: Hardwired... to Self-Destruct by Metallica

This week I will be reviewing the deluxe edition of Metallica's latest album, Hardwired... to Self-Destruct. As soon as I started the first CD of three, I instantly remembered how much I love this album. The opening track, "Hardwired", is possibly my favorite album opener ever. It's fast, heavy, and gets me excited to listen to nearly three hours' worth of Metallica.

Since the release of Hardwired (the album), Metallica have posted hundreds and hundreds of live videos from their Wordwired tour, including live versions of all but two songs on the album. Metallica also made a music video for every single track on Hardwired. and behind the scenes videos of the album recording process and the music video shoots. For fans of Metallica, there is an absolute goldmine of videos on the band's YouTube channel. Seriously, Metallica are absolutely spoiling us and I love it.

Hardwired is a very long album, and there are certainly songs I would classify as filler material- but even the filler songs are pretty darn good. Throughout the album, James Hetfield's voice is pretty much the best it's ever sounded. Hardwired may not sound like a classic Metallica record, but I think that's okay. It sounds like the band came full circle, and incorporated elements from their lesser appreciated albums into one monster release. The band learned from the Napster lawsuit, the St. Anger and Death Magnetic mistakes, and the hit-and-miss songwriting of Load and ReLoad. Everything came back together for Hardwired... to Self-Destruct and the results almost make all those ups and downs worth it in my mind.

When I reviewed Ride the Lightning, I complained about the paper sleeve the CD came in. The deluxe version of Hardwired comes in a similar packaging, but significantly upgraded. There are actually plastic inserts to hold the CD like a normal jewel case! This is the way paper CD packaging should be. It's high quality, looks great, and the CDs and booklets don't fall out. There's just one problem- it doesn't fit in my CD rack. I can forgive that this time, though, because I doubt any 3 CD case would. I just wish Metallica's reissues could have had the same treatment.

The final track on the album, "Spit Out the Bone", is quite possibly one of the best Metallica songs ever, at least since the 80s. When I first listened to the album, I didn't pay much attention to it, probably because of listening fatigue from sitting through an hour of my favorite band's new music. It was quite a bit overwhelming at the time, so I forgive myself for not immediately recognizing the genius of that last song. Since then, though, I've fallen in love with "Spit Out the Bone", and it remains one of my favorite songs to play on guitar. It was my first Metallica song that I learned from start to finish. Since then I've gone on to learn more songs by my favorite band, but Hardwired really got me started with heavy metal guitar playing.

Today when I listen to songs from Hardwired, I think of playing Grand Theft Auto V. I set my personal radio station in the game to just play Metallica songs, and Hardwired songs seemed to come up more often than anything else. I've raced around stunt tracks, robbed banks, and blew up cars listening to this music. As as result, I've listened to every song on this album many times, but completely out of order. I've listened to the whole thing maybe three times all the way through, including today. The other times would have been my first time listening to the album at all, and then my first time listening to my copy. I never listened to Hardwired obsessively like I did with ...And Justice for All or the black album, but nevertheless this collection of songs means a lot to me.

I give Hardwired... to Self-Destruct five stars out of five, and my favorite track, after much deliberation, is a tie between "Halo on Fire" and "Spit Out the Bone". I do have to give an honorable mention to "Lords of Summer" from the bonus disc, though.

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