When you’ve conquered the world, released a string of genre-defining classics and endured a very public meltdown, where do you go next?
Back in 2008 Metallica answered that question with ‘Death Magnetic’, an epic and bewilderingly complex return to their thrash metal roots. Now, eight years on, the Bay Area legends have less to prove – and it shows on ‘Hardwired… To Self-Destruct’.
From the ’80s-style riff-fest of ‘Atlas, Rise’ to the ‘Enter Sandman’-esque crunch of ‘Now That We’re Dead’ and labyrinthine thrash of ‘Spit Out The Bone’, this 10th album captures Metallica squarely in their comfort zone.
These songs resound with call-backs to the four-piece’s halcyon days, from lyrics inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos (‘Dream No More’) to brash, beefy grooves that recall the Black Album.
At times the results are exhilarating, as on the superb ‘Moth Into Flame’ and doomy death-march of ‘Confusion’ – written from the perspective of a soldier with post-traumatic stress disorder – but there’s a smattering of filler, too. Too many tracks outstay their welcome by a matter of minutes, while the record’s second half is bogged down by mid-paced stompers like ‘ManUNkind’ and ‘Am I Savage?’
Still, there’s plenty of blood and thunder-laden fun to be had here, and most of us will happily settle for that. For a band in the midst of their fourth decade, Metallica still sound remarkably spry.