Last week, Metallica released it’s first single in what seemed like forever, “Hardwired.” The single has inspired a wide range of emotions amongst metalheads, and Metallica diehards. Some love this single with an unbridled passion, while others hate it with great fury. We gathered five Metallica fans to give their takes on the single, one week after its release. We wanted multiple plays, critical thinking, and the time to recover from possible neck pain from head banging.
Lucas P. Jones: Metallica have returned after what seemed like an eternal touring schedule, and they return in a big way. Like Immortan Joe from Mad Max, they have turned on the water just enough to satisfy, but not enough to quench. I’ll give you the summary upfront: it’s thrash, it’s angry, it’s intense. It feels vintage, but with some new energy. Hetfield’s riffage is rarely in better form.
As for the long version…There are some issues with the track. Lars’ has his drums way too high in the mix, and they end up competing with other instruments to the point where in some parts I couldn’t hear bass or guitar. And his kick drum sounds like they triggered it, compressed it, then distorted it. It seriously sounds like he’s kicking wet cement. Kirk’s solo was also weak. Like, really weak, especially for someone who’s played as long as him. The solos on the Beyond Magnetic EP were creative and killer, what happened?
Despite this, the track is a good sign that the biggest of the Big 4 of Thrash has returned to form, while still putting a modern Metallica twist on it. Go and listen to it. Go now. While you do that, I’ll be saving my money for the deluxe edition release.
M.J. Rawls: Who would have thunk that in 2016, we would get a Metallica single that would be under five minutes? Here’s the thing – the views on this song has been increasingly divisive mostly amongst Metallica fans. You’ll get bits of “this is great” coupled with “what the hell is this?” Let’s just take back and be thankful that it’s not St. Anger or Lulu based. I have to say that I enjoyed Death Magnetic – this particular single seems to be landing in that same realm. Bands like Metallica who have built their legacy throughout the years tend to stick close to what got them to the dance. I’m not really sure what everyone was expecting. You have Lars blast beats/double bass pedals, Kirk’s small solo, James scowl coupled with lyrics that are not the most optimistic. My only complaint is within this mix, you can’t really hear any of Robert’s bass lines. Those need to be heard a little bit more – welp, maybe on the final album mix.
Yes, it’s simplistic. It’s mainly the same chord progression throughout the whole song, but it’s not bad. These guys have been doing this for a mighty long time and we aren’t going to get …And Justice For All. Just have to accept it. Not a bad first single, but could use some tinkering in the final mix.
Nick Porcaro: If Death Magnetic was Metallica taking a long-overdue step in the right direction, “Hardwired” represents a giant leap into the past glory fans know and love. Equal parts “Whiplash,” “Battery,” and “Damage Inc.” this short-but-sweet thrasher is filled to the brim with classic Metallica guitar tones and furious vocals from James Hetfield. Sure, the lyrics are hella cringeworthy—and drummer Lars Ulrich continues to struggle with keeping it together at high tempos—but if this is the energy we can expect from Metallica’s upcoming album, I’m all ears.
Dylan Brandsema: Now this is what I’m talkin’ about. “Hardwired” feels like a step in the absolute best direction for what is to eventually be the long-awaited new Metallica album. The most noticeable thing about this track – before you even push play – is that it barely even surpasses the three minute mark, a rare occurrence for this band. It’s extremely simple and to the point, which definitely works in its favor. It’s like a rocket ship giving us a preview of its jet engine power before it really takes off. It’s a brief, condensed but also brutal first taste (unless you count “Lords of Summer,” which came out over two years ago at this point). I’ve never been among the camp who believe that Metallica’s last thrash metal was over 20 years ago. St. Anger and Death Magentic were thrash metal albums whether they were well-received or not. “Hardwired,” though, feels like an old early 80’s Metallica song we never got to hear. It’s pretty fantastic.
I have one minor complaint: Kirk’s solo feels like it gets cut short. It doesn’t have that tail-end lead-out into the next part of the song. It just stops extremely abruptly on whatever note he was playing at the end of that bar. The first time I heard it, I rewound it to make sure I didn’t miss something. It’s just an out place spot to end a solo, is all. Otherwise, this track is pretty much stellar, and I can’t wait for the new album.
Anthony Toto: In the year 2016, metal fans across the world listened to the almighty Metallica play relentless thrash metal like it was 1983. Again, I want to reiterate that it is 2016 and Metallica produced a song that easily fits into the Kill ‘Em All category. The most common complaint from Metallica detractors is how they wish the band would return to their roots and write material that is reminiscent of their first four albums. Metallica proceeds to resurrect the Kill ‘Em All blueprint and a majority of the reception has been positive while a loud minority continues to hurdle insults towards “The Four Horsemen.” As James Hetfield once said, “It ain’t my bitch.”
When I first listened to “Hardwired…To Self Destruct,” I instantly felt this synergy that spiked my blood pressure as if I just rediscovered masterpieces like “Whiplash,” “Metal Militia,” and “Motorbreath.” Is “Hardwired..To Self Destruct” the modern “Whisplash?” Not necessarily. If we were playing poker anytime in the last 15-20 years and you told me, “Metallica will one day return to their Kill ‘Em All roots,” I would place all my chips on the table and go all in. The members of Metallica are in their early – mid ‘50s. In my opinion, this song is the best case scenario for an older band, especially one scheduled to release their eleven studio album.
Some fans have voiced their displeasure about the lyrics and yes, this song certainly is not as thought provoking as “Welcome Home (Sanitarium).” However, James Hetfield is clearly motivated and his disdain for the world’s self induced chaos has not wavered. “Hardwired…To Self Destruct” is the angriest that he has sounded in years and the ferocity in his vocal delivery reminded me of the …And Justice For All era. No, I am not saying his voice sounds like 1988 “Blackened” but I truly welcome the return of a disgruntled James Hetfield because very few vocalists convey the harshest emotions through a melodic spectrum quite like Papa Het.
If one signs up for the Metallica fan club, there are multiple videos that capture Metallica recording “Hardwired…To Self Destruct” on their website. James Hetfield is shown writing the song with his famous white Elektra flying V that he played throughout the early – mid ‘80s . That guitar is single handedly responsible for some of the greatest riffs in the history of modern music. Seriously, I encourage Metallica fans to appreciate those nuances that make this song special and will hopefully make Hardwired…To Self Destruct another classic.
In terms of overall sound and writing style, “Hardwired…To Self Destruct” picks up right where the band left off on 2008’s Death Magnetic. I will admit; I hope the rest of album has sharper guitar tones with efficient usages of reverb rather than the twingy, thin sounding guitar tones that sometimes comprised the dramatic effect during songs off Death Magnetic. I yearn for guitar tones that recall the crushing riffs of “Damage, Inc,” “Battery,” and “The Thing That Should Not Be.”
Once again, it is 2016! Long time listeners have every reason to rejoice as Metallica clearly focused on the METAL in Metallica. I even lost my mind after I saw the … in “Hardwired…To Self Destruct.” If this album resembles …And Justice For All in any shape or form, Hardwired…To Self Destruct will immediately become my favorite album of the year.
If someone loves Kill ‘Em All and doesn’t enjoy this song, those listeners will (probably) never be won over. And real talk, I feel sorry for listeners that spurn anything post …And Justice For All. Quite frankly, most of those haters would not have discovered Metallica if it weren’t for The Black Album…despite their efforts to convince us otherwise. You could be a die-hard metalhead and still love the new Metallica without losing your credibility. I give this song a 4.5 out 5! No life till leather, Metallica are gonna kick some ass in 2016.