Metallica fans were given treat after treat in the past week.
First, on Thursday, Metallica shocked fans with the announcement that their long-awaited new album would be released on November 18th. The same day, Metallica released a new song, the title track to the new album, “Hardwired,” along with a video. If all that weren’t enough, Metallica was also the first major rock act to headline at the brand new U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the new home of Minnesota’s NFL team, the Vikings, last night. If all that weren’t enough, Metallica not only played to the 50,000 fans in the sold-out U.S. Bank Stadium but also made the concert available to millions of Metallica fans around the world via a live-stream through Pandora.
Whew. That’s a lot of Metallica news in a single week. Let’s dissect the offerings.
First, the announcement of the new album. Metallica’s website indicated that Hardwired… to Self Destruct would be released on November 18, 2016. That means that there will have been a solid eight years between the release of Metallica’s last full-length album, Death Magnetic, and this new one. Hardwired… to Self Destruct will be a double-length album featuring 2 CDs and over 80 minutes of music. That is, of course, unless you get the “deluxe” version, which includes an additional CD. That third CD of Metallica extras includes an official release of Metallica’s summer anthem, “Lords of Summer,” along with rough mixes or “riff origin” mixes of all the songs on the official album.
The album features artwork that is an amalgam of all four of the Metallica band members’ heads, with James Hetfield’s infamous scowl front and center. Metallica has been playing around with their own logo in partial redesigns ever since the release of Load. However, eight years ago they went back to their signature logo that has become so synonymous with the band since their first release, Kill ’em All. Now, with Hardwired… to Self Destruct, Metallica is keeping the classic logo with a slight variation, a misaligned aesthetic that feels like digital interference. The font gives the legendary Metallica logo a movement that previous iterations may have lacked.
“Hardwired,” the first song to be released off of the new album is surprising, and yet ultimately familiar. Surprising, because “Hardwired” is just over three minutes long. For a band that has often been the master of six-plus minute epics, often with numerous time changes throughout, Metallica’s first release from Hardwired… to Self Destruct is surprisingly short. However, in just over three minutes, Metallica immediately reminds us of who they are. “Hardwired” kicks off with an immediate, pulsing triple gallop, the palm-muted alternate picking crunch that is synonymous with the band. Lars Ulrich’s drumming is relentless throughout the tune on both the snare and the kick drum. A quick solo from Kirk Hammett is interestingly bluesy — reminiscent of his leads from Load and ReLoad — in such a fast, heavy tune, and it’s a reminder that Hammett loves to do things his own way. Behind everything else, Robert Trujillo anchors the tune with his bass, and if there is any downside to the song, it’s that there isn’t a more prominent display of Trujillo’s amazing skills.
And then there’s James. Hetfield’s staccato lyric style through the verses of “Hardwired” is a technique that’s seemed to grow on the Metallica frontman since Death Magnetic, and it suits not only his vocal style but the aggressiveness of the song. And then there’s that chorus: “We’re so f***ed. S*** out of luck. Hardwired to self-destruct.” This is not the Metallica from their Black Album days of the early nineties that were hoping to attain some radio play. This is not the Metallica that sang, “No more, crap rolls out your mouth again…” This is a Metallica that understands that they have absolutely no need for major radio play. This is a Metallica that understands that the music scene around the world follows them, not the other way around.
The song titles from Hardwired… to Self Destruct have spawned a multitude of wondering from Metallica fans as to what each song is about. At over 80 minutes of music, it means that minus the three-minute “Hardwired,” the other eleven songs on the album will total around 77 minutes — meaning that “Hardwired” might just be the shortest song on the double album by a long shot.
Here’s a listing of the tracks on Hardwired… to Self Destruct.
- Atlas, Rise!
- Now That We’re Dead
- Moth Into Flame
- Am I Savage?
- Halo On Fire
- Dream No More
- Here Comes Revenge
- Murder One
- Spit Out The Bone
The video released on Metallica’s website for “Hardwired” is clean and simple. Filmed in black and white, the video hearkens back to the warehouse shots from Metallica’s first video for “One.” The video is simple and straight to the point, just like the song.
In addition to the release of the official video, Metallica also released a “making of” video for “Hardwired” to their Fifth Members. The Fifth Member program is the latest iteration of Metallica’s Fan Club, making special offers and features available to die-hard fans. It appears as if Metallica is looking to release glimpses into the making of each of the songs on Hardwired… to Self Destruct just like they did with their last album, Death Magnetic.
Metallica took to the stage at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis last night. The 50,000 lucky fans who got tickets to the gig sold out the enormous stadium quickly, prompting Metallica to make the performance free to live-stream via Pandora for those fans not lucky enough to get inside.
— Metallica (@Metallica) August 20, 2016
Kicking off their two-and-a-half-hour-long set with a classic, “Creeping Death,” Metallica took to the stage as only a band of their size experience can. Opening acts Volbeat and Avenged Sevenfold — great hard rock acts in their own right — seemed to be a bit overpowered by the sheer size of U.S. Bank Stadium, but the Vikings’ new football palace fit Metallica like a glove. The band treated fans to some their standards, including “Master of Puppets,” “Wherever I May Roam,” “One,” “Sanitarium,” “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” “Battery,” and even a fan-selected classic, “Leper Messiah.” However, it was the encore that finally gave fans what they were craving for: the first live performance of “Hardwired,” a performance that was spot on and widely appreciated. Metallica finished out the show with a rendition of Thin Lizzy’s “Whiskey in the Jar,” which James commented always reminds him of former Metallica bassist, Cliff Burton. The band closed out the show with the Metalli-ballad, “Nothing Else Matters” and finally, “Enter Sandman.”
— Newbs (@Newbs28) August 21, 2016
In closing, the band each thanked the crowd and their fans for their support, and Lars assured the crowd that they’d see the Minnesota Metallica fans sooner rather than later with the new album and a new tour.
It’s certainly been a long wait for new Metallica material, but if the snippet of the album we’ve already heard and their performance last night in Minneapolis is any indication, Metallica remains better than ever.
[Photo via Metallica Official Website]