Sunday, November 13, 2016
Metallica : "Hardwired to Self Destruct"
Like many people into actual metal, I like the first four Metallica albums. I was quickly burned out on the "Black Album". The last album of theirs I checked out was "Load" which lived up to it's name. So this is the first time I have given them much of a chance since then, aside watching the documentary about them going into therapy. My impression of the first song on their new album is they are trying to find their way back to where they came from. This is as awkward as hanging out with friends from high school when you are an adult because there is less common ground since you are in a different place. The more stripped down production seems like a good place for them to start.
So a song like "Atlas, Rise !" sounds like a b-side from "Masters of Puppets" that Cliff Burton decided not to participate in. it lacks the aggression of "Leper Messiah" or the more interesting arrangement of "Disposable Heroes". The guitar solos are dialed in with little fire behind them and feel like Hammett thinks they are still trying to play rock n roll rather than metal. The guitar harmonies are very Iron Maiden inspired and the best thing about the song. In fact some of the more synchronized sections sounds like the are lifted from the bridges of "Hallowed Be Thy Name".
Hetfield has never been the greatest singer, but what he did worked off a combination of interesting lyrics that where barked in a very heart felt manner. It seems like he is only half in on this one. There is a more "Black Album" like groove on "Now That We're Dead" which shits in the punch bowl of those who the first few singles off this and claimed they were going back to "Ride the Lightning" . This more middle of the road approach works better for James' voice. The chorus is the first that really stands out. This song might not try to be as heavy, but is that really who they are or who we wish they were? This song sounds more honest than the first two. The transition going into the chorus of "Moth to the Fame" is a little awkward. They do better on the verses before they speed up into a more "Damage Inc" tempo. This song is ok, but I found myself getting a little bored mid way into it.The more deliberate mid-tempo groove of "Dream No More" finds the vocals coming closer to hold more of a melody. Once again it's a step away from the proto- thrash they want to return to, be feels like a more valid expression of where they are really at. The lyrics struggle to make this one Lovecraftian, where it was more organic on "the Thing that Should Not Be". Did doesn't feel dark at all which is the main problem. It's obvious by the riff to "Halo on Fire" that they are willing to re-tread old riffs in order to get to who they used be. This one tries to be a power ballad with touches of "Enter Sandman". Eventually it winds it's way into some decent chugging.
Going into the second cd, of this double album I got a little scared and began to wonder if they should stick to eight songs and not over step their bounds with a double album. When they start directly recycling riffs from previous albums again this fear doesn't feel unfounded. The attack to "Confusion" might have more conviction than some of the lust for nostalgia they are lubing you up with on this album. The chorus of this song is pretty much thrown away. The guitar solo on this song works much better in the context of the song than many of the solos on this album. Once again at the mid way point of this song I find myself getting bored and checking to see how much longer I have. As metal has evolved this doesn't seems as heavy yet "Masters of Puppets" still holds up over time so what ever x factor is in play in this theory doesn't work in their favor. "ManUNkind" never fully grabs my attention. The ripping off of "Leper Messiah" that opens up 'Here Comes Revenge" does though it ebbs down into a more radio friendly take on "Enter Sandman" finding them circling a few similar themes from earlier in their career. The chorus of this song is not the strongest, but the first verse made up for it. This is one of the songs that would seem like it's time for a bathroom break if you went to see these guys live. "Of Wolf and Man" gets a sequel on "Am I Savage" which at least is not another stab at "Am I Evil". This is mid-paced in the same way the bulk of songs from the "Black Album" are though I would not say this is as good as the first song and feels almost more like a Megadeth song. "Murder One" is a little darker. It falls somewhere between "And Justice" and the "Black Album". Lyrically it is pretty dialed in. They have steered away from the kind of ballads that sank the "Black Album" so that is a step in the right direction on their part. They try to end things on a fast and furious not that would invoke memories of "Blackened" or "Dyer's Eve". The get the velocity right, but it lacks the urgency. I'll give this one an 8.5 it's far from the album of the year, but is not as bad as I feared it would be, the only downside is the lack of originality on their part, though that has proved a double edged sword for them in the past so maybe playing it safe avoid another "Lulu".