Metallica’s latest album, Hardwired… to Self-Destruct officially surpassed the 1 million mark in sales this month. In a little over five months, Metallica’s latest album has received not only critical acclaim, but appears to have hit home with fans as well. Metallica sold over 290,000 copies of Hardwired… to Self-Destruct in its first week of release, which is quite a feat considering the immense drop in album sales that have plagued the music industry over the past few decades. This latest Metallica album is the first hard rock or metal album to go platinum this decade, which only goes to show that Metallica is still the king of the hill in the genre.
It is amazing that Metallica has reached such a pinnacle of success, considering that they weren’t given even a modicum of radio play when their first album, Kill ’em All, was released in 1983. Now, almost 35 years later, Metallica not only dominates rock radio, but some of their songs – especially from their self-titled album (often dubbed the Black Album) – can even be heard on classic rock radio.
To many critics and fans, Hardwired… to Self-Destruct is Metallica getting back into form. To many, that might be an overstatement in that Metallica has never really been out of form. Their 2008 release, Death Magnetic, was lauded by many of their fans. Still, Death Magnetic was dubbed a little too technical by some. For many, their last studio album, with all of its intricacies, was a throwback to 1988’s …And Justice for All, which is interesting, because Death Magnetic’s producer, Rick Rubin, encouraged the band to look back at their third studio release, Master of Puppets, for inspiration.
Perhaps when fans and critics say that Hardwired… to Self-Destruct is a return to form for Metallica, what they mean is that there is a bit more “airy-ness” to the music. That is to say that there is a bit more breathing room, a bit more melody to many of the songs, and that lends the album to be likened more to the Black Album – Metallica’s best selling album – than the faster, heavier songs of their earlier albums. Of course, that’s not to say that Hardwired… to Self-Destruct doesn’t have it’s share of headbanging, guitar crunching metal among its tracks as well.
The album starts off with the unrelenting palm muted triples of the title track, “Hardwired,” and it doesn’t end there. The second track, “Atlas, Rise!” keeps up the pace, but it’s in this song’s refrain that we feel some of the relaxation in the intensity that might remind some of the music off of the Black Album.
What’s interesting about Metallica’s duo guitar solos in the refrain is that they are very reminiscent – not in structure, but in style – of the music of Iron Maiden. Songs like “Now That We’re Dead,” and “Dream No More” slow down the tempo a bit, but don’t give in on the heaviness. The closer on the new Metallica album, “Spit Out the Bone” reminds us that however relaxed we might think Metallica may have gotten, they can still rip out the most aggressive, jaw-dropping riffs available.
Whatever the reason, it’s clear that with the official platinum certification by the RIAA, Hardwired… to Self-Destruct has pleased legions of Metallica fans, and has no doubt garnered Metallica some new fans along the way. Metallica is about to start their North American summer stadium tour with supporting acts Avenged Sevenfold, Gojira, and Volbeat. Though they are now 35 years into their careers – a notably long time for any band, especially a hard rock band – with yet another platinum record, Metallica seems to be at the top of their game.
[Featured Image by Mauricio Santana/Getty Images]