Oh Metallica, how I’ve missed you.

Hardwired… To Self-Destruct is the tenth studio album by heavy metal giants Metallica. One of the ‘Big Four’ from the 80’s and still going strong to this day…well, kinda. As a live act they’re still absolutely huge but their album releases have been hit and miss over the last 20 years. That is when they actually bother to put something out.

This ‘double album’ released in November is their first studio album in eight years following Death Magnetic in 2008, which I think was really good. “But Rob” you cry out awkwardly “What about the album Lulu?”. Well, random voice in my head, conveniently that can be classed a collaborative effort’ meaning we don’t have to class it as a ‘studio album’. Which again, in super convenient because it was down right awful. See what I mean about hit and miss?

Hardwired…however is almost exactly what I wanted from a new Metallica record. It’s got the pace, the energy and the focus and perhaps most importantly it doesn’t sound like dog shit like St Anger did. Wow, I really am hating on a band I love right now aren’t I?

The album sounds great for a number of reasons. First and foremost the songs are good (especially CD 1), it has long instrumental sections that take their time meanwhile the lyrics have direction and meaning. Secondly it’s mixed really nicely. It’s powerful and heavy yet clear at the same time.

I bought the deluxe edition which means as well as the double disk set, I got a third CD which is mostly live material recorded at Rasputin Music in Berkeley, California in April, 2016 and covers. The third CD is a nice bonus to have and the covers are fun, especially the Ronnie Rising Medley in which Hetfield has a vocal performance I honestly didn’t know he had in him. Yet let’s be honest, most Metallica fans who want a live album probably already have one and mostly likely it’s S&M. Which is brilliant. So do yu need the deluxe version? Probably not.

The regular double album actually only had 12 songs in total, 12 long songs. The majority are over five minutes with the longest, Halo On Fire, at 8 minutes and 15 seconds. Disk 1 is 37 minutes while disk 2 is slightly longer at 40.

The problem with having two disc sets is that you’re immediately going to start comparing them. So let’s do just that. Well, disk one is by far the better of the two. It’s simply brilliant, top-notch Metallica. It’s this CD that has all of the energy, pace and focus that I mentioned earlier. If this had been released as an EP it would have blown people out of the water. unfortunately the second CD is noticeably weaker, a step down in quality. While a couple of the tracks are still great there are a few stumbles. And for an album that had eight years to be made, why are there any weaker tracks? It does feel like the album is front loaded and when I’m in my car am I really going to switch over to the weaker songs? Probably not. I suppose we could just blame Kirk Hammett for losing 250 riff ideas on his phone, silly goose.

I suppose I should mention to everyone who thinks that Lar Ulrich’s drumming style is lazy to just get over it. Yeah he doesn’t play at a million miles an hour anymore, who cares?! His style works for Metallica’s modern style, plus multiple times on the record he shows he can still go with the double kick anyway. Is he the best drummer in the world? No. Does it matter? No! People rag on Ulrich because it’s cool to do, not because he’s actually a bad drummer.

In summary Hardwired…To Self-Destruct is, well not quite 80 minutes of brilliant Metallica as it’s more like 65-70 minutes, but there is enough here to keep any fan happy. Maybe for the next record we won’t have to wait another eight years though?

Verdict: Thumbs Up