The proverbial double-entendre, the conspicuous hindsight bias.
Metallica has a great imperfection: they don’t sound like anybody else, so you just have Metallica to compare. Also, as in the constant artistic search to stay relevant they played their games in the past (Load and Reload) which were a mistake. Period. They triplicated their income. It was sell-out. Period. That’s why they are trying to prove since St. Anger that they are relevant to a new generation and now that millennials know that the truth is all there, they are playing for keeps, because, you know, confidence is something that is hard to get back.
That’s the price to pay to be the most famous band in the world.
The second “if” is their bet in a double album. Okay there’s nothing new here, they were always known for doing enormous songs. But Iron Maiden did that in their last album to a rate of 50/50 approval. Judas Priest made this bet some years ago with Nostradamus and they’d LOST! Why it should be different with Metallica?
And finally, the curse inside metal musicians: once you experiment and fans don’t approve it (over again Load and Reload) there’s NO turning back. I explain myself. Sepultura made a shitload (and a shit-reload, ha) of success when they released Roots and no matter how they try to differ from that, that Brazilian tribal sound will always make part of what they are. Another sample? Kreator: once they recorded their “goth” albums, no matter how badass they sound again today, that sound will always lurk…
But I digress… Forget Kill ‘em All and forget “Black album”. If you are nostalgic fan, you might get very disappointed.
But this time they make their stand and for real: take it or leave it!
After the fast and killer Hardwire and the mercurial Atlas, Rise! the song Now That We’re Dead is not that impressive, although the limpid production gives it some lost dignity and while Moth into the Flame is really up beating, Dream No More doesn’t exactly go down the road, I just believe that it’s not so impressive except for one thing – “Madness, they say Cthulhu awaken”. I mean, SERIOUSLY?
Now the really unnecessary song that would make no difference in the final cut: Halo on Fire (the last song of the first CD), and although I’m being honest when I say that the solos are killer, hell, why a 9-minute quasi ballad? It’s a hard-rocker for sure, but it has this dual facet: the first minutes are a real bummer, while the second half is decent. Oh well…
Okay after all, disc one is not that chore, so let’s jump to second part without further ado.
The opener Confusion is a real and good Metallica song, the real thing. It’s not fast but it has a killer rhythm guitar very characteristic of the older Metallica. Solos are plentiful and the tempos are many. Excellent.
After a lousy 30-second intro, the song ManUNkind is all heaviness with a syncopated drumwork and it’s a good song, vocals and all. Feel secure in this one, it’s a singalong and the gradation is there making it several songs into one. Almost seven minutes that sounds like three. It’s a good thing, isn’t it?
Surprisingly (for haters at least) Here Comes Revenge keeps the momentum and differently from the latter song, it’s more cohesive, more easy to understand at first heed. Another score.
Changing the pace, the tune Am I Savage? Is more of a commercial shot, but you see, it’s not irritating. It’s just more snail paced compared to the songs of the second disc. I dig the solos though.
Murder One follows suit and it’s all melodic.
But the icing in the cake is the last track, Spit Out the Bone which is a VIOLENT (man, am I really saying that?) thrash metal song, that makes me bang my head and open an invisible mosh until the cow comes home!
There is a third disc that I haven’t have the opportunity to hear, and it will contain covers of Iron Maiden and Deep Purple, plus a tribute to Dio, plus a live set. I am totally curious to hear those.
The conclusion: Disc one has its great moments and its strange flaws. Disc two is Metallica taking back their dignity and throwing up in the face of everybody. Some will love, some will hate. Again, forget the “old days”. And forget the lousy albums. Also, forget the “tentative” albums like St. Anger and Death Magnetic. Metallica haven’t got stuck in the past in any way or form. This time they got what they were after: a very good Thrash Metal album!
Hardwired… to Self‐Destruct is going to be out on November 18th on Blackened Recordings.
(Daniel “Roderick Totentanz” Death)