Album Review: Hardwired... To Self Destruct (Metallica)

PandaDude98
Mini-Description: In our first collaborative album review, we take a look at Metallica's long-awaited comeback double album -- and how it being their best album in decades might not be much of a compliment.

Best Songs: "Atlas, Rise!", "Spit Out The Bone", "Moth Into Flame"
Worst Song: "Here Comes Revenge"

Wonkey's score: 6/10
ProPanda's score: 7/10


So. Let's talk about Metallica (stop freaking misspelling it ProPanda), shall we?
Panda: I mean, I've always been a fan. Ride The Lightning remains one of my favorite albums ever. They've made continuously solid metal that I still love to this day. They were one of the best bands of the 80s and one of the most dominant bands of metal. But then came LuLu... sure St. Anger was bad, but this was a whole new level. It was impossible for an album to be this disappointing, but it happened. The fact that it was a collaboration with an artist that I liked was even worse! Then I heard they were coming back. With this album I had briefly covered this last in that AOTY post, where I had them somewhere near the bottom where no one cared anymore. I've made it clear that I like this album, and it's an improvement from their other stuff.
Wonkey: I, on the other hand, have been way less forgiving of Metallica. I'd go as far as to say they're decent at best. Sure, no one can deny their streak in the 80s was absolutely wonderful, one of the best of the decade almost to the streak of Iron Maiden's in the 70s. But as soon as the 80s faded, it seemed Metallica decided to get lazy, with albums that ranged from generic (like Load and Reload) to...whatever abominations St. Anger and LuLu were. I was abundantly sure that Metallica were gone for good. But I'll give Hardwired To Self Destruct this: it's Metallica's best album since the 80s. The bad news is I'm not sure that says much.

Also we're not going to list them by the discs, and we'll get to why later.

Panda's Side note: One more thing. After that Chainsmokers review, I realized one thing. My reviews look alot better when they're more concise. So, I've decided to keep things short for this one and see how it went.

Track 1: Hardwired
Wonkey: The title track, and easily one of the better songs here. It has a lot of ferocious energy in the guitars that blaze through James' fierce growls. However, it does have issues that keep it merely good. I wish the bass guitar was more utilized to give the song real groove (we'll get back to this), and I find the lyrics a little bit wince-worthily meaningless (we'll get back here too), but still, really good song.

Panda: There's a lack of grove, which is disappointing, cause you know, this is thrash metal. But like, there's so much energy that I can't ignore. I'l cover this song later on a post in my own account. Link's in the description, be sure to subscribe.
Track 2: Moth Into Flame
Wonkey: Yeah, this song is great and easily one of the best songs here. The lyrics are pretty standard talk of the evils of fame and social media, and Trujilo is crying of loneliness right now, but I love the little shifts of guitar that keep the mood gritty and dark, how the slower tempo allows the song to have a lot of high-end energy, Hetfield's delivery, the big hook, this song is awesome.

Panda: Oh my god. The lyrics are the most edgy things I've seen in a really, really long time. And I LOVE it. There's some genuine energy in the hook, a dark atmosphere set by the beat, which is amazing, by the way. Seriously, the guitars on this thing are some of the best metal instrumentals of the entire decade. Easily a standout of this album, and maybe even their careers.

Track 3: Atlas, Rise!
Wonkey: And here's a song that might be even better. While I do wish whatever bass that's on this song wasn't synchronized with the guitar, the song still has a biting rollicking edge to it...wow, this album starts off great!

Panda: I don't know about this one. I like it, that's for sure, but I have no idea why...

Track 4: Confusion
Wonkey: Hoo boy, here's a fun one. This song actually starts off with an awesome rattling guitar swing, it sounds cool. But yeah, the lyrics kill this one for me. This song is about PTSD, but it's less about the ailment itself more so its suicidal tendencies it causes. That could work, but Metallica is too basic and superficial of a band to handle it with real nuance. It's not outright malicious in its broadness like Dave Mustaine, but this doesn't do it for me. Sorry.

Panda: This is basic. Very basic. Beyond generic metal. The epitome of a 2/5. Like the guitars tho. Solid guitars.

Track 5: Now That We're Dead
Wonkey: And right from a hot streak...people seem to think this is one of the best songs on the album. I'm not one of them, if anything it's one of the worst. And I blame all of that on Lars. That brings me to my big issue with this album: the instrumentation's pretty good, but the production is terrible! This is one of the slowest songs on the album, so we have to deal with Lars' horrible minimized kick drum that sounds like fapping after a while and sticks out over everything. It kills the whole mood for me. The only thing keeping this from being the absolute worst song is that the lyrics are like a less good version of Hozier's In A Week. Actually, why am I not listening to that instead?

Panda: Because you have to do this post, doofus! Anyway, eh. This is a bit boring. The drums sound terrible, and the vocals and lyrics aren't enough to save it. I don't HATE it by any means, but it's pretty mediocre. Sorry.

Track 6: Here Comes Revenge
Wonkey: You wanna know what the worst song on the album is? This. Which is funny, because the production issues aren't as bad here, because there's, you know, a bass guitar (you'd think a band that's been around for nearly three times my lifespan would know how to work a bassline as good as most good pop artists can). The problem is that it's synchronized with Hetfield's guitar for some ungodly reason. But no, the reason this is the worst song on the album is that opening minute. You have to sit through a whole minute of an unlistenable faded guitar screech that has no purpose but to drive me away from listening to the rest of the song. As for the lyrics...it should not be as easy to look at the title of a song for me to be able to explain the meaning of your song, especially a band as hyped as Metallica.

And you have Here Comes Revenge: a song so awful I ranted about everything about it except the song itself.

Panda: Uh... yeah, you summed that up pretty well. Um... how do I follow this up? Oh yeah, the lyrics:
"Little grave I'm grieving, I will mend you
Sweet revenge I'm dreaming, I will end you"

If you're creeping me out by the first lyric, you're either really edgy, or shouldn't be established as you are. And given this is Metallica we're talking about, this could be said about either option.

"Countless hatreds built my shrine
I was born in anger's flame
He was Abel, I was Cain"

What.... what is this guy trying to say? "I was born in anger's flame"? Sounds like a quote from a teen drama.

Track 7: Am I Savage?
Wonkey: This song is better than the other two songs, but that's mostly because it's just bad than outright terrible. The guitars aren't well-articulated (can articulation even apply to guitars?), the melody is boring, Hetfield's extended syllables are painful, and the whole song just feels like nothing special. And on that note, let's get to my two biggest gripes with the album: it's too thin and too long. I get Metallica haven't really been at all nuanced or complex since the 80s, but I at least expect a double album (that's only 12 tracks and 70 minutes fsr) to have more meat, especially considering that Metallica's trying to tackle dystopian imagery and apocalyptic themes. Sorry that everyone uses technology and utilize it, grandpa. I'll give him this: at least he didn't follow up the title with "yes I am" like Megadeth would do in godawful fashion. (Also why does that guitar line sound like Sweet Disaster by DREAMERS?)

Panda: The guitar line is beyond perfection. It creates a nice atmosphere. I actually think the melody is pretty intresitng. The length doesn't really matter, it's a fun jam session, and a decent song to use for that..

Track 8: Halo On Fire
Wonkey: Is this some sort of generic love song or...? "Come won't you stay"? The cleanest vocals of Hetfield's career in a way that's staggeringly out of place? It highlights one of my biggest issues with thrash metal (and a lot of metal) in general: it feels completely superficial. There's nothing that makes me feel convicted about hearing about fire for the five billionth time with barely-connecting subtext. Easily one of the weakest here.

Panda: I... love it! I don't know why, but it's so god damn amazing!

Track 9: Dream No More
Wonkey: I'm assuming this is about Satan or something, I don't know. I've stopped pretending Metallica has something to say years ago. It's not even like this song is bad, it actually has a nice swing to it. But it's indictive of this album which is emblematic of Metallica's career: pretty nice, but ultimately not worth caring about.

Panda: It's decent. Pretty fun, I can see myself coming back to them. But there are better Metallic songs, even on this album.

Track 10: Murder One
Wonkey: Why does the guitar line remind me of Bottoms Up by Brantley Gilbert? Ew. Anyways, this is a tribute to Motorhead that doesn't even pretend to be black metal. Something tells me Hetfield doesn't have the balls to dabble in ANY sort of experimentation.

Panda: I've studied music for a while now, and I've heard bad tributes. But this... this is a mediocre tribute. Nothing good, nothing bad.

Track 11: Lords of Summer
Wonkey: Metallica making a song called Lords of Summer...well, I guess it's better than what Weezer, Calvin Harris, or Demi Lovato did. This song is tolerable...at least until Hetfield opens his mouth and the song gets swallowed in a horrible tapping kick drum.

Panda: The drum line... is really bad. I don't wanna talk about it.

Track 12: Spit Out The Bone
Wonkey: Aw yeah, we end with probably the best song on the album. Who knew a song about falling victim to the machine could be so grimy, yet still so fun? Seriously, this instrumental is awesome...even without a bass, but I've come to expect that really. This has so much raw energy, with Hetfield's most powerful performance on the album...why isn't every weak track more like THIS?

Panda: Oh my god. This is perfection. One of the best metal songs of 2016. Not my favorite from this album, but damn, those vocals.

VERDICTS:

Wonkey: I don't know about you, ProPanda, but this was...decent, I guess. There are enough great songs to balance out the bad, which is more than I can say about most Metallica albums leading up to this. However, all that shows is that Metallica is overhyped more than most things in existence. This album epitomizes my biggest issues in thrash metal, but also its biggest strength. So you know what? Strong 6/10 and a tentative recommendation. Fans will love this immediately, but for people more skeptical or familiar with Metallica...you're not missing much. Eh.

Panda: I like it. It's a solid record which gets a bit dry and tiring at times, never fails to hype me up. If you want your metal to be fun and energetic, this'll be great for you. It's nowhere near some of their masterpieces, but after St. Anger and Lulu, to be honest, I'll take what I can got. It's fun trash metal, and there's nothing wrong with that. This was one of the openers for my Album Of The Year posts just off of that, and I have no regrets. 7/10, a good record, with some genuinely high fun points.

Panda : Thanks for reading this review guys, it took alot of time to put together. Wonkey'll be tackling Green Day next, and I'm gonna flash to current times and do a special RANKED episode. In the meantime, check out my website, thepandacriticmusic.bravesites.com. It's in production, but I'm adding some of my older posts as well as updating it with the newer ones. Feel free to leave feedback.

What did you think of our collab? Should we do more of these? Please let---

Wonkey : Ok, I think they get it. PandaDude98... signing out.

Comments

Good collab. - Skullkid755

2/10. Death Magnetic is better. - visitor

You 2 should do more collabs. - Skullkid755

I can't message you this so I'm gonna tell you in this comment. I got a greatest guitarist elimination game going. Wanna participate? - Skullkid755

Nice, do more please. and nice youtube reference but u forgot smash the like button - EliHbk

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