Friday, August 19, 2016

Thoughts from a metal mind: Don't screw this up Metallica

After a long wait, a long excruciating wait that honestly should not have been this long, we finally got some confirmation. Metallica IS releasing a new album this year.

There has been 8 freaking years since Metallica released "Death Magnetic". Remember 2008? It was the year when Usain Bolt got his big breakthrough, winning the 100m, 200m, and 4 X 100m dash at the olympics in Beijing, all in world record times. It was the year Barack Obama became President of The United States. The awesome movie "The Dark Knight" had its premiere. And in the music front, we metal heads got Amon Amarth's "Twilight of The Thundergod", Scar Symmetry's "Holographic Universe", Gojira's "The Way of All Flesh", and Opeth's "Watershed". Feeling old yet?

It has been a long road for Metallica to create "Hardwired... To Self-Destruct". During those 8 years, they have made a full length movie, starting up their own record label and music festival. They have toured a lot, including Antarctica. But the thing they have done the most is bragging. I cannot count the amount of interviews and articles where the guys have said "The chemistry in the band is at an all time high", "We got so many riffs and riff ideas for the new album", "We cannot wait to get in the studio", and my personal favourite, "We are really close to completing the album". So complete it then, don't sit around there and waste time, get in!

With that said, I am very relieved that they have finally stopped procrastinating and complete their 10th album ("Garage Inc." not included). However, I do have a fear that the album will suffer from the so called "Chinese Democracy syndrome". That is when an album takes so long to complete that the anticipation and the expectations for it grows to an unbelievable amount, making it close to impossible for it to meet them. Now, it may not have taken Metallica 15 years, but 8 years is still a long time.

Let us take a closer look at what the guys has presented us with.

The album cover

Well... what do you even say here?

Apparently, this looks like all of the guys have merged together into an incomprehensible mess, a little like that monster from the first Spy Kids movie (remember Spy Kids? That was the shit in the early 00's), only more colorful. Seriously, it is like they hired a guy, and then told him to use ALL of the tools in Photoshop. This is an insane cover, but fortunately, it is not the ugliest the band has put out (I am looking at you "Load").

The setlist

Disc one
1. Hardwired
2. Atlas, Rise!
3. Now That We're Dead
4. Moth Into Flame
5. Am I Savage?
6. Halo On Fire

Disc two
7. Confusion
8. Dream No More
9. ManUNkind
10. Here Comes Revenge
11. Murder One
12. Spit Out The Bone

Yep, this is not a miss print, Metallica is releasing a double album. 12 songs totaling up to a play time of 1 hour and 20 minutes. Jesus Christ dude! Vektor pushed their boundaries when they created their latest technical thrash album "Terminal Redux", which also over an hour long, but that at least had a purpose. When it comes to "Hardwired... To Self-Destruct", I just think that Metallica had too many ideas. Yes, 12 songs are not that many, but I can guarantee that most of those songs are gonna be really long, even longer than most of the songs in "Death Magnetic". It will all come down to execution to see if this works, but I have my doubts.

And for those of you who want even more, then congratulations, because if you buy the deluxe version of the album, you get the riff origins of... I don't even know what, those are not titles of previous songs. Maybe it is the names of the riffs? I am genuinely intrigued by this. Also, you may have noticed that "Lords of Summer" is missing here. That song is also in the deluxe version, kind of a bummer there, but it does sound like a B-song out of the "Death Magnetic" sessions, so I could not care less.

Also, what is with these titles? Some sound kind of cool I guess, but others are just stupid. "ManUNkind"? "Murder One"? "Am I Savage?" (a nod at the Diamond Head classic "Am I Evil?" perhaps)? You may had tons of ideas for riffs, but get your title game up guys.

The first single

"Hardwired" is the first song out of the album we get to hear, and it is surprising in a lot of parts. The length is just over 3 minutes (lengths the band has not even been close to since the early days), it is simple, it is old school thrash, and it sounds really good. I am not overly impressed by it yet, but it does get your thrash nerve going, which is always a positive sign.

However, I do feel like the production is kind of crappy, which is not unusual when it comes to Metallica. It is okay I guess, but the first thing I noticed was the incredibly loud drums, which almost drowned the guitars. Lars has, once again, had some of the saying in the production, and I can not think that anyone else but him turned up the drums to eleven. Well, at least they do not sound like the drums in "St. Anger"

Overall, it is a good song, but the riffs are far from impressive, and father time has not been too kind to James and his voice (he still sings great, but it just does not have the same power). A promising start


My hopes are that "Hardwired... To Self-Destruct" will continue in the same spirit as "Death Magnetic", taking the old school thrash element and mixing it up with modern metal, delivering tons of awesome riffs. I personally loved "Death Magnetic", even if it did have some flaws, so this new album makes me excited.

However, knowing what the band has been through during these 8 years, I am not so sure that the album will become a future class. It is a given that it will not be a new "Ride The Lightning" or "Master of Puppets", but we can certainly agree on that they should have enough material to not make a new "St. Anger".

So in conclusion, "Hardwired... To Self-Destruct" may look ugly as hell, but it has the opportunity to evolve and burst out as a beautiful thrashy butterfly. You got the chance of a life time to redeem yourselves for the long wait Metallica, do not fuck this up!

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