Metallica: Hardwired...
to Self Destruct

anthony spitery


Metallica is back! The band has proven that their fire has not died as fans are once again obscured by the billowing smoke of their new album like sharks to blood...or perhaps  "Moths into Flame." Though the chemistry of the band never ceased, they had yet to make a comeback album with songs that ignited the original flare that they brought to the table all those years ago. Self Destruct is the album that many fans have waited over a decade for, it seems. I myself fell entranced in the exhilarating riffs and amazing rhythms played by Kirk Hammett.

Before I heard  Ride the Lightning, I was not all that familiar with what Metallica was all about. I could imagine that this 1984 album is what hooked listeners on their unique sound. One thing I immediately noticed was how unique James Hetfeild was in his interpretation of what metal is. Before Metallica came along, there was no such thing as a deeply poetic metal ballad piece, one that had an epic thrash-down and a riveting guitar solo at the end. Their songs have more than just a beginning, middle, and end. Its stages are like a journey, that jolt you into experiencing sound that is, in itself, a force of nature. Songs like  "Creeping Death"  and " Fade to Black" move from one catchy riff to another and surprise the listener with new rhythmic twists that adapt and change within the song, exploring boundaries. Indeed, Ride the Lightning  was the most appropriate name for the album.

Since then, I have heard many other albums by the group, and while the same elements were there, I never felt that initial excitement from song to song like I had before. I thought nothing could compare. If I was lucky, I could enter that journey....that zone, with maybe four songs at the most on each of their other albums, but nothing seemed to measure up to the consistent brilliance of Ride the Lightning.

 I was beginning to think the group would never recapture the magic that once defined Metallica until I heard this latest album. I'm not saying this album is as good as Ride the Lightning, but Self Destruct certainly gives me hope for Metallica's future, especially when you compare this album to the others they released in the 2000's.  Songs like "Moth into Flame" and "Dream No More" conjure Metallica's glory days. However, these songs have weaker qualities when compared to classics such as "Creeping Death" or "Seek and Destroy." Many songs in this new album tend to have that great attention-grabbing riff, song verses, and an epic solo and ending, but they are missing the one element that the fans really want--the surprise! Do you know what I'm talking about? I'm talking about that catchy middle riff that changes the flow, kicking in that Ride the Lightning feel.  That surprise riff was usually followed by new rhythms and, as we know, was finished with an epic solo and the explosive end. Unfortunately, this album lacks that quality. It also lacks the ability to reference its classics without stealing from them. "Spit out the Bone" is eerie similar to "Whiplash." Metal-heads don't care if they hear the same kind of stuff, but when I notice direct copying of their original work, I see a lack of effort to try different things. I would only rate this album 3 out of 5 stars, for Metallica's sheer laziness made certain songs empty. Songs like "Now That we're Dead" could have been greater.

Don't get me wrong; it is a worthy and compelling album to buy nonetheless, especially if you get it with its extra features, and you want to hear what seems like a lost album from the late 1980's. The album's deluxe edition contains a tribute to another of metal's godfathers, Ronnie James Dio and his part in Ritchie Blackmore's band Rainbow. A loyal fan of Metallica will appreciate their homage to the earlier years in the live performances, and a loyal Dio fan like me will be thrilled and appreciative of their covers. All in all, I would not recommend this album for someone who is new to Metallica, but instead for fans of one of their albums from the mid to late 80's

Or maybe fans of Ronnie James Dio.


Listen to "Moth into Flame" by Metallica

Anthony Spitery is a sophomore majoring in communications. He enjoys traveling, classic rock, and Star Wars.