The metal scene is crammed full of truly great and influential bands. Sat atop of this list is of course Black Sabbath, a band who took the blueprint of blues and turned it into something dark and heavy…one can not imagine the awe upon hearing that bell and first notes of the song Black Sabbath way back in 1970.
The decade that followed in Sabbath’s wake produced a slew of incredible bands but none were up there with Sabbath in terms of influence and style…that was until Metallica thrashed their way onto the scene. Formed in L.A. in 1981, they took the thick riffs of Sabbath, added a dose of speed, mixed in some punk attitude and sprinkled an aggressiveness (musically and lyrically) that became the sub genre; thrash metal.
Their first four albums are considered bone a fide classics (the same way Sabbath’s first six are) and along with Anthrax, Megadeth and Slayer, they became the “big four” dominating metal for pretty much the entirety of the 80’s. Then, in 1991, they released their fifth album Metallica (the black album) and stepped into the realm of the mainstream.
Even though the album was still crammed with spine crushing riffs and attitude, there was a significant shift in tone and with the video (and song) for Enter Sandman, they became MTV stars. The following four albums suffered because of this (as well as severe tensions within the band) and Metallica seemed to be lost and incapable of re-capturing the magic of their early work.
That was until 2008 when they released Death Magnetic. Seemingly re-energised and returning to their original musical style, it is a beast of an album full of lengthy songs, pounding musicianship and snarling lyrics. Then a collaboration in 2011 with Lou Reed (which produced the album Lulu) garnered mixed reviews from critics and a very negative response from fans (personally I love it) and it seemed Death Magnetic was just a lucky strike.
And so, we come to the hear and now and Metallica are finally on the verge of releasing a new album entitled Hardwired…to Self-Destruct in November and have given us a taster with new song, Hardwired.
We are instantly bashed around the head with a real thick crunching riff accompanied by deep crashing drums. The song then becomes full on thrash metal by speeding up and Kirk Hammett gives us some classic Metallica guitar motifs and a suitably piercing solo. A ferocious bass glues the whole song together courtesy of Robert Trujillo and as always, Lars Ulrich’s drum playing thrusts the song along (although it is still a little snare sounding).
Finally, James Hetfield sings with attitude and anger, a statement more than a full on performance, the chorus declares “We’re so fucked, shit out of luck, hardwired to self destruct” and you actually believe it! Then, it’s over and the song finishes at just over three minutes in length.
So, what Metallica have done is release an explosion of intent. A track which certainly harks back to their thrash roots and teases at the possibility of the upcoming album being just as good. It isn’t perfect. But that is purely down to the extremely high level of work throughout the years being virtually impossible to re-create…but, it is a huge step in the right direction. Metallica…my friends, are BACK!!!!