I figured the biggest album of 2016 needed to be covered by the undead ghost corpse of the greatest metal website the internetses have ever seen before, so here it is: The single most powerful set of ellipses in metal. The one and only Metallica return after an eight-year hiatus to give us a new record, “Hardwired DOT DOT DOT to self destruct”, that’s available for consumption everywhere but Napster.
But before I get to the new stuff, I have to mention a few things about the total package here, and I don’t mean Lex Luger.
So first, a prologue…
I purchased the “Deluxe” version on iTunes because I’m a dumbass, I guess. It downloaded on its own at midnight on the release date on my sentient Apple device, and when I got up in the morning I had it on my phone. Okay. Cool. Might as well play it then.
The first thing I noticed about all this neat new content was the veritable shitload of bonus tracks that was included with the already meaty (for some reason) double album. I got 26(!) tracks for an album that is composed of 12 new songs. There are a few covers, including a neat version of Iron Maiden’s “Remember tomorrow” that sounds like Metallica covering Lynyrd Skynyrd covering Iron Maiden until the faster part where the world is reminded that Kirk Hammett is not particularly a fretboard wizard. There is also Rainbow’s “Ronnie rising medley”, which sounds perverted if you want it to, and “When a blind man cries” which sounds like not fucken Deep Purple. Okie dokie. There are also some new original Metallica songs that are, for some reason, not officially a part of an already overblown tracklist. But now, let’s take a look at the included live bonus tracks because holy jumpin’ fucken shitballs:
I tell you what, guys. You better be really fucken confident in the quality of your new shit and come out with penises swinging because you have instantly provided every single listener of your album with a backdrop for comparison. By including what is, in my opinion, no less that five live versions of the best Metallica tracks from their entire catalog, the band is primed to expose themselves more openly than your weird uncle at Thanksgiving dinner.
I am fully aware that there are multiple types of Metallica fans out there. There are those fans who, no matter what, will always compare whatever the band puts out there to “Ride teh lightning” and “Napster of puppets”, and they’ll discover that they will never be satisfied with any of it regardless if it’s a “St. Anger”, which Lord K once fittingly reviewed with a picture of a penis, or “Death Magnetic”, an album so just blandly okay it’s unreal. That being said, I’m going to attempt (and fail) to look at this big bad double album through an unbiased lens.
As for the album itself…
So how good is “Hardwired DOT DOT DOT”? Well, honestly, I think it’s actually a pretty good record. It definitely ain’t bad. Is it “Puppets” or “Lightning”? Hell no. But it is a quality album with enough quality tracks to be a worthy addition not only to your Metallica collection, but also to your collection as a whole.
One thing I will admit is that the songs that were “pre-released”, which is a term both George Carlin and I despise, were just plain better than the other tracks. That’s understandable, I think. They needed to hit a home run to get buys and that’s what they tried to do. “Moth into flame” is my favorite track, and it was also one of the three prerelease tracks along with “Hardwired” and “Atlas, rise”, two more of my favorite tracks on the album. One characteristic that really stands out is the length of the tracks. Other than “Hardwired”, no song on the record clocks in at any less than 5:45. Thankfully, the tracks are long, yes, but not too long. For the first time in ages, the long Metallica tracks actually feel like they go somewhere as opposed to just meander idiotically through LuluLand. The record is very top-heavy, though, with all the best stuff coming on the first “disc” of material. The album ends with a cool attempt at trying to sound thrashy in “Spit out the bone”, but I can’t ignore the feeling that it sounds like Metallica trying way to hard to be old Metallica and recapture that magic that’s clearly dead.
In all honesty, “Hardwired” suffers from the same problems that every Metallica release dating back to the two “Loads” suffers from. They’re too long. They try to stuff too much into the album. Stuff like “Dream no more” or “Confusion” or “Murder one” really don’t do anything for me, and “ManUNkind”, which is a title so stupid it makes me shudder, feels like a definite throwback to the “Load” era that should have just been left back there. Would the record be improved by trimming a lot of that fat? Absolutely. Is it good as it is? Sure.
BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE! And all this brings me to this little epilogue…
So, I get finished listening to all this new Metallica material, and now I’m greeted with the bonus tracks comprised of the likes of Iron Maiden and Blackmore band covers and a relentless onslaught of live versions of some of the best metal songs ever written, throwing in my face the fact that this is the same band I just heard for 80 minutes of new music, and I cannot for the life of me keep from drawing comparisons.
Metallica is nowhere near the band it was it their heyday. It’s not even close. And you didn’t need anyone to tell you that because you’ve known that since the 1990s. They are a shell of themselves at this point, and their old-school counterparts like Testament, Slayer, and Megadeth are light years ahead of them now in terms of the thrash. It’s fascinating and oh-so true. But at the end of the day, a shell of Metallica, as a group of middle-aged old guys with more money than Davy Crockett, have the ability and the potential to be a whole lot fucken better than a lot of new music out there. Sometimes they succeed.
Is this album vintage Metallica? Lolz gtfo. Is this album great? Nah. Is it good. Yep. Check it out.