For the first time in a decade, Metallica has released a studio album with new material — and a new sound.
The album, “Hardwired…To Self-Destruct,” was released on Nov. 18. Music stores all over the world were hosting midnight release parties for the album in anticipation of new music finally released by the group.
With this new album, the band attempted a unique endeavor: to release a music video for each song on the record, instead of only one or two for the singles. Fans have been asking “Did you see the new Metallica video?” every week leading up to the record’s release on music forums and in magazines.
With all the hype surrounding its release, does the new album measure up?
The record opens with “Hardwired,” a song beginning with a brutal assault of heavy guitar work and drums in syncopation reminiscent of war drums calling soldiers to battle.
As the album goes on, songs like “Moth Into Flame” show that Metallica is not only trying a new formula for their music writing but are still embracing their well-established style.
However, the video shows that the band’s members aren’t in their 20s anymore. Three of the four have gray hair and are developing facial wrinkles. Showing their age can be a detriment or a benefit, but we have yet to see how fans have reacted.
One video seems to pay homage to the legendary yet controversial black metal group Mayhem. The song “ManUNkind,” itself, is a Metallica song, but the video shows a band of young men wearing black and white facepaint, with decapitated animal heads on pikes alongside the band on stage, much like Mayhem’s stage shows.
“My life just got weird,” said Morten Bergeton Iverson, better known as Teloch, guitarist of Mayhem. “…not only the Mayhem logo and the old Mayhem characters in their latest video, but they copied an old gig as well.”
It is an impressive undertaking to create a music video for 12 songs in such a short period of time. However, several of the videos look like they were created with a minimal budget by a crew trying to reach a deadline.
For instance, the video for “Am I Savage?” displays a man who lives a monotonous life, but they portray him kicking over a water cooler and angrily eating dinner as acts of frustration.
“Hardwired…To Self-Destruct” does feature some songs that are going to become jams for people to blast for the next few years, such as “Atlas, Rise!” and “Spit Out The Bone.”
Sadly, out of the 13 songs on the record, only a handful were listenable and actually presented an interesting display. Songs like “Dream No More” and “Halo On Fire” sounded like the band took angst-wridden words from a preteen girl’s diary and set them to repetitive music.
Singer James Hetfield’s voice has changed a lot since the group was still an underground metal band. As time has gone on, there is little to no variety in his vocal delivery, even sounding like he is talk-singing at times.
Radio waves were truly rocked when heavy metal quartet Metallica began making music in the early 1980s. “Hardwired…To Self-Destruct” could produce high-selling numbers and appeal to those new to the Metallica sound. Those of us still clinging to our copies of “Ride The Lightning” and “Master Of Puppets” will just have to coddle ourselves back into the ’80s.
“Hardwired…To Self-Destruct” gets three heavy metal devil horns out of five.