It finally happened: “The Day That Never Comes,” , to quote the title of the best song from Metallica’s 9th studio album, has arrived on November 18 when album number 10 of the legendary quartet, “Hardwired… to Self-Destruct” was released worldwide and has already generated a torrent of reactions among the older and newer fans of metal’s most recognizable brand. In such circumstances I could not stay away from the excitement and fever which has gripped the online world even since the release of the new Metallica album has been announced several months ago.
Many things have changed since the day I started listening to this iconic band back in 1992. Metal has evolved at an astounding pace and became more and more creative and diverse. New and innovative sub genres appeared thanks to the work of some great musicians and bands who pushed the boundaries of heavy metal to completely unexpected directions. There is an incredible variety of bands from different genres which are worth listening to in 2016, and many of them have created truly great albums which are better than Metallica’s latest creation, but in spite of all this abundance of exciting and innovative music Metallica still remains relevant to me and millions of other people from all over the world to the point that nothing else matters in these days in which the kings of metal finally reveal their new material.
November 18 was such a day in which there was only one band in my playlist, and it’s not hard to guess which band it was. After hearing the first three songs which had been previously released my impatience has grown because I had the feeling that “Hardwired… to Self-Destructed” would be the closest Metallica would get to their glory days of the 80s, when their sonic assault of speed and thrash metal spread around the world even without help from MTV. Well, after hearing the entire album my enthusiasm has drastically diminished because that welcome return to form announced by dynamic thrash tunes like “Hardwire” or “Atlas, Rise!” was only confirmed by “Spit Out the Bone,” another outstanding tune from their new album. Frankly, the rest of the album includes mostly bland, mid-tempo tunes, and a couple of them are so unremarkable and boring (“Am I Savage?”, for example) that I find it very unlikely to place “Hardwired… to Self-Destruct” on my list of the best albums of 2016, and I definitely doubt it will be considered a classic of metal a decade or two later.
Nevertheless, the mediocrity of Metallica’s 10th studio album cannot erase the special place this band will occupy in my heart, and it will probably stay here for as long as I live, because hard rock and metal are definitely the types of music I will never ever stop listening to. There are several reasons for which I still value Metallica a lot and I will always appreciate this band, regardless of how disappointing its future exploits will be, so here are a few reasons for which I will never stop loving Metallica:
-it is basically the first heavy metal band I have listened to carefully, and it’s all due to the controversial, but highly successful Black Album, which has been my gateway to metal;
– after the initial delight caused by the audition of the Black Album I quickly looked for their previous works and I was simply blown away by all the four albums they released in the 80s, and two of those great albums, “Ride the Lightning” and “Master of Puppets”, have remained in my top 10 list of all times throughout all these years;
-I appreciate their willingness and courage to reinvent themselves and experiment with their music, even if some of their experiments, such as “St. Anger” and the collaboration with Lou Reed on the total failure called “Lulu”, took them too far away from their thrash roots and have very rarely been included in my playlists;
– I see them as trailblazers and as a source of inspiration for countless of metal bands, and I think the legacy they will leave when they call it quits will be as important as the one of other huge names like The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix or Black Sabbath;
-the four great songs I have identified so far on the rather mediocre “Hardwired… to Self-Destruct” indicate that, even if they are in the mid 50s, James Hetfield and his band mates can still play fast and furious music with meaningful lyrics, and I think they still have plenty of vitality left to offer us more surprises in the years to come.
These are only a few of the reasons which came quickly to my mind when I thought about how relevant Metallica still is for me and probably for a lot of metalheads throughout the world. Now, that their latest release is still fresh, it’s time to give it another try because, even if my first impression on “Hardwired… to Self-Destructed” is not necessarily a positive one, there are still plenty of things to analyze and discover in this album. The simple fact that people are talking so much about this album these days is a clear indicator of the fact that Metallica has earned the right to be a relevant a long time ago, due to the excellent music it has created throughout its glory years, and nothing can stop it from rocking our world now and as long as there is rock music on Earth!
Photo credit: My own creation.