Metallica - Hardwired... to Self-Destruct

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Posted on Sat, 01/21/2017 - 9:02am
by Ron Wallace

Member since: Sat, 01/24/2015

Release Type

Studio Album

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Album Overview

Hardwired... to Self-Destruct is the tenth studio album by American heavy metal band Metallica, released as a double album on November 18, 2016 by their vanity label Blackened Recordings. It is their first studio album in eight years following Death Magnetic (2008), marking the longest gap between two studio albums in the band's career. It is also their first studio album not to feature songwriting credits from lead guitarist Kirk Hammett since he joined the band in 1983, and their first studio album released through Blackened. Hardwired... to Self-Destruct was produced by Greg Fidelman, who engineered and mixed Death Magnetic. The album was Metallica's sixth consecutive studio album to debut at number one on the US Billboard 200, selling 291,000 album-equivalent units in its first week, and topping the charts in 57 countries. The album sold over one million copies, and critical reception of the album was mostly positive.


    1-2Atlas, Rise!6:31
    1-3Now That We're Dead6:59
    1-4Moth into Flame5:50
    1-5Dream No More6:29
    1-6Halo on Fire8:15
    2-3Here Comes Revenge7:17
    2-4Am I Savage?6:29
    2-5Murder One5:45
    2-6Spit Out the Bone7:09
    Deluxe Edition Bonus Tracks
    3-1Lords of Summer7:10
    3-2Ronnie Rising Medley (A Light in the Black / Tarot Woman / Stargazer / Kill the King)9:03
    3-3When a Blind Man Cries4:35
    3-4Remember Tomorrow5:50
    3-6Hit the Lights4:06
    3-7The Four Horsemen5:19
    3-8Ride the Lightning6:56
    3-9Fade to Black7:24
    3-10Jump in the Fire5:13
    3-11For Whom the Bell Tolls4:32
    3-12Creeping Death6:43
    3-13Metal Militia6:07


    In October 2011, bassist Robert Trujillo said that the band had returned to the studio to begin writing new material. He said: "The writing process for the new Metallica album has begun. We've been in the studio with Rick Rubin, working on a couple of things, and we're going to be recording during most of next year". In an interview with Classic Rock on January 8, 2013, Lars Ulrich said regarding the album, "What we're doing now certainly sounds like a continuation [of Death Magnetic]". He also said, "I love Rick [Rubin]. We all love Rick. We're in touch with Rick constantly. We'll see where it goes. It would stun me if the record came out in 2013". In a July 2013 interview, Ulrich told Ultimate Guitar, "2014 will be all about making a new Metallica record"; he said the album would most likely be released during 2015. Trujillo and Kirk Hammett later confirmed the band's intention to enter the studio.

    In March 2014, Metallica began a tour called "Metallica By Request", in which fans requested songs for the band to perform, and a new song, titled "Lords of Summer", was written for the concerts and released as a "first take" demo in March 2014. A Black Friday exclusive single featuring the "First Pass Version" and a live version limited to 4,000 copies was released later that year on vinyl. In March 2015, Ulrich told Rolling Stone that twenty songs had been written for the album, and that he hoped some of them could be played at their shows later in the year. In October 2015, the band unveiled a new website with an introduction from Ulrich containing footage from the studio of the band working on new material. In November, Hammett said that the album was expected to be released in late 2016 or early 2017.

    On February 6, 2016, during their "The Night Before" show at AT&T Park prior to Super Bowl 50, James Hetfield said that the band was nearing the end of the recording process, and Ulrich said that the album would be released soon. This was compounded by the band playing a new riff at the show, which ended up being from the song "Murder One". Ulrich further elaborated in March 2016 when he said that the band hoped to finish production of the album during the spring. "I think [2016] will be a pretty in-your-face year, at least the back half of it... hopefully we should be able to knock that on the head (finishing the album) this spring, I would guess". In March 2016, Hammett said that the band had worked with Greg Fidelman, who engineered and mixed Death Magnetic, as producer on the new album. "The title 'producer' itself is a bit ambiguous. It differs from person to person. You can call Rick Rubin a producer, but he's not the [same] type of producer as Bob Rock, who is there for every note. At the same time, Rick Rubin gets stuff done. Greg Fidelman is a different type of producer in that he's with the engineer always looking to try and move the project forward."

    In April 2016, during the week leading up to Record Store Day, for which the band was its ambassador for 2016, Ulrich told Billboard that the band's expanded role within the music industry had played a part in the amount of time that it had taken to write and record the album. "The way we do things now is very different than the way we did things back in the days of Kill 'Em All and Ride the Lightning. Nowadays we like to do so many different things." Ulrich was also optimistic that production of the album had almost reached its completion. "Unless something radical happens it would be difficult for me to believe that it won't come out in 2016". In May 2016, Ulrich said in an interview with Metal Forces that the album would be released in the summer of 2016, and that details for the new album would be finalized in the next month. "If the record doesn't come out this year then it won't be because it’s not done... it will be because there's some sort of cosmic reason that it would be smarter to hold onto it until next year. But the record will be done this summer". Recording of the album was completed in June 2016 once the recording for the song "Hardwired" was finished.

    Hardwired... to Self-Destruct marks the first studio album by the band not to feature songwriting contributions from Hammett since he joined the band in 1983 prior to the recording of Kill 'Em All. In 2014, Hammett had lost his phone at Copenhagen airport, which contained almost 250 riff ideas. Since Hammett did not back up the data, it affected his creative input for the new album and he "had to start at zero again while [Hetfield and Ulrich] had material for songs". Trujillo's sole writing credit on the album was the introduction to "ManUNkind", which he later said was written as a tribute to former Metallica bassist Cliff Burton. Regarding lyrical themes, Hardwired... to Self-Destruct bemoans the music industry and subjects such as overdose on "Hardwired". Familial lyrics dealing with the H.P. Lovecraft Cthulhu Mythos are explored on "Dream No More", and "Murder One" serves as a tribute to the late Motörhead frontman Lemmy, who died in December 2015; the song was named after the bassist's favorite amplifier.

    Release and Promotion

    In a live Facebook event on August 18, 2016, Lars Ulrich said the album would be released in November 2016, and would contain twelve tracks. According to the announcement on the band's website, the CD version of the album would contain two discs with six tracks each, and that the album would contain nearly eighty minutes of new music. Metallica released the first single from the album, "Hardwired", that same day; those who pre-ordered the album through the band's official website received an instant download of the song. The album artwork, created by Herring & Herring, and the music video for "Hardwired" were also released. On September 15, 2016, the band announced that they had updated the track list for the deluxe edition of the album. In place of the thirteen "Riff Origins" songs that the band had initially included on the third disc, the band included "Ronnie Rising Medley", which the band had recorded for the Ronnie James Dio tribute album Ronnie James Dio – This Is Your Life in 2014, covers of Deep Purple's "When a Blind Man Cries" and Iron Maiden's "Remember Tomorrow", and remastered versions of the nine songs performed live at Record Store Day on April 16, 2016, along with a live version of "Hardwired".

    On September 26, 2016, the band released the second single from the album, "Moth into Flame", along with a music video. The album's third single, "Atlas, Rise!", was released on October 31, 2016, with a music video composed of footage from the album's recording process. Ulrich also told The Straits Times that same day that the band would be filming music videos for all twelve tracks on the album, using YouTube as their platform. "Now that YouTube is the world's biggest television station, we figured we may as well knock a video out for every song... the practicality of shooting twelve music videos is kind of crazy, especially when you're trying to promote your record, and you're all over the place, and trying to make sure it doesn't leak. It's crazy but, at the same time, fun". On November 12, 2016, a local Walmart started selling the album in advance of the official release date of November 18. On November 16, the music videos for all nine remaining tracks (along with "Lords of Summer") were released. The Italian city of Matera appears in the music video for "Spit Out the Bone".


    Metallica is promoting Hardwired... to Self-Destruct with the WorldWired Tour, which started on October 26, 2016 in Puerto Rico.

    Critical Reception

    Hardwired... to Self-Destruct received an average score of 74/100 from 28 reviews on Metacritic, indicating "generally favorable reviews". AllMusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine said although the album featured all of Metallica's core music elements, he thought the band did not sound as ferocious as it did in its 80s heyday. David Anthony of The A.V. Club had a mixed impression, saying "77 minutes of endless thrashing gets tiring" and thought the songs would benefit from leaner songwriting. He did, however, praise the album's first three singles, saying they were some of the best songs the band has written since the 1980s. Rolling Stone's David Fricke said Hardwired... to Self-Destruct reminded him of ...And Justice for All and Metallica, having the "jagged apocalypse" of the first and the "focused brawn" of the second. Greg Kot of the The Chicago Tribune opined that Hardwired... to Self-Destruct was not comparable to Metallica's finest work, and predicted the album will be quickly forgotten as its promotional tour is done. Dom Lawson of The Guardian had an opposite opinion, declaring Hardwired... Metallica's "finest record in 25 years". He criticized the second disc for not being on the same level as the first, and stopped short of calling the album a classic.

    Sputnikmusic's Trey Spencer wrote that performance wise, Hetfield's voice sounded reinvigorated, but complained on Ulrich's drumming for not "breaking a sweat" on most of the tracks. He concluded that Metallica was not attempting to recapture its trademark sound, but made this album "just for the love of playing". Stephen Dalton of Classic Rock said Metallica were still competent with the biggest pop stars in a climate where rock music was declining. Dalton liked the album's cover art, but his opinion on the music was "more mixed". Adrien Begrand of PopMatters complimented the band's concise songwriting and wise selection of songs for not including ballads and long instrumentals. He observed that Metallica was having fun again and made a record that will please old and new fans. According to Neil McCormick of The Daily Telegraph, if the album was half as long it would have been twice as effective. On a positive note, he described the album as "80 minutes of in-your-face shouty rage with absolutely no let-up".

    Commercial Performance

    Hardwired... to Self-Destruct debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, selling 291,000 album-equivalent units in its first week, of which 282,000 were pure album sales. The remaining 9,000 units comprised 34,000 song purchases and 9.3 million streams. It was the third-largest debut of the year in the US on pure sales, behind Drake's Views and Beyoncé's Lemonade. The album slipped to number 3 on the Billboard 200 in its second week, selling 75,000 units, including 71,000 copies. Hardwired... to Self-Destruct was the best selling heavy metal album of 2016 in the US and seventh overall, with 516,000 copies sold by the end of December. It became the highest selling debut of the year in Germany with more than 200,000 copies shipped in its first week, earning a platinum certification. Hardwired... to Self-Destruct had the biggest opening week of 2016 in Australia with 26,000 copies sold, debuting at number one on the ARIA chart. Overall, the album was number one in 57 countries, entered the top three in 75 nations and the top five in 105 countries.


    • James Hetfield – vocals, rhythm guitar
    • Kirk Hammett – lead guitar
    • Robert Trujillo – bass, backing vocals
    • Lars Ulrich – drums


    • Greg Fidelman – production, mixing, recording
    • Mike Gillies, Sara Lyn Killion – additional recording
    • Dan Monti, Jim Monti, Jason Gossman – digital editing
    • Ken Matcke – assistant engineering
    • Dave Collins – mastering
    • Turner Duckworth – cover design
    • Herring & Herring – photography, creative direction


    Tracks 5–13 on Disc 3 were recorded live at Rasputin Music in Berkeley, California on April 16, 2016, for Record Store Day. Track 14 on Disc 3 was recorded live at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota on August 20, 2016.