Posts Tagged ‘Metallica’

A portrait of a man with various colored portraits projected onto his skin. The band name and album title appear at the top and bottom, respectively.

Imagine trying to review the new and hotly anticipated record by the world’s biggest metal band? Praying that it doesn’t suck, because you’re a massive fan and REALLY don’t want to have to admit that. Well that was me, today, when I got my copy of ‘Hardwired…to Self Destruct’ by Metallica. Especially when there was a double disc set to get through. But I love this fucking band’s work, so I owed them an open mind. You need no introductions or explanations, so let’s get straight into it.

First thing, I don’t like that album cover. At all. But it isn’t about the cover, it’s about the music. Opener ‘Hardwired’ is a short sharp return to Metallica of old, with some great thrashy riffs and a instant hook. ‘Atlas, Rise!’ opens with a riff that could be a lost one from ‘Kill Em All’, and while the rest of the song is much more modern it is refreshing to hear little dashes of the past in here. Metallica’s new one instantly wipes away the fear that it’ll be another rehash of past glories. ‘Death Magnetic’ was good, great in parts, but it had more than a bit of ‘Metallica trying to be old Metallica’. ‘Hardwired…to Self Destruct’ has seen the band regain their swagger, and it’s a reinvigoration that is welcome.

The ‘Load’-esque groove of ‘Now That We’re Dead’ feels like the most ‘commercial’ song on offer, while the first track most of us heard, ‘Moth into Flame’, gallops with infectious intent, proving that Hetfield and Hammett have lost nothing as guitarists. First disc closer ‘Halo on Fire’ is a big hard prog rock epic, and while not their best work here, is still a great track. The continuation of the Lovecraft influences speak through the monstrous ‘Dream No More’, and the serpentine, almost sludgy Lemmy tribute ‘Murder One’ is a late highlight. But the best track here is ‘Spit Out the Bone’, a brutally fast and excellent track, with riffs and solos spraying everywhere like badly managed machine gun fire. The best Metallica song since ‘Damage Inc’? Perhaps…

Metallica are fucking back, and that should come as a pleasant surprise to everyone. ‘Hardwired…to Self Destruct’ is an encapsulation of everything good Metallica have done in the past, brought into the modern era. It may have been almost 30 years, but maybe we have a true successor to ‘And Justice For All’ at last…

This riff of the moment is brought to you by Nile, the most brutal and well researched death metal band on the planet. There are so many Nile riffs I could chuck into one of these posts, but there is one that, for me, stands above all that Karl Sanders has ever put through his custom 7 stringer.

‘Eat of the Dead’ is on Ithyphallic, one of Nile’s lesser appreciated records. Admittedly it was sandwiched between the jaw-dropping Annihilation of the Wicked (2005) and the career-defining sweeping epic that is Those Whom the Gods Detest, a review of which will be forthcoming. But it was another flawless slab of ancient, technical brutality, injected with vast swathes of ethnic instrumentation and meticulously researched tales of Egypt. Plus, with ‘Papyrus Containing the Spell to Preserve its Possessor Against Attacks from He Who is in the Water’, it probably has the Nile song with the best name. ‘What Can be Safely Written’ and ‘Even the Gods Must Die’ are essential Nile tracks. But it is ‘Eat of the Dead’ that has the key riff. It starts at 4:32, after a bruising middle section that enhances the speed of the song by 400%.

THAT riff, that’s what Metallica’s Creeping Death would have sounded like in reality. That is the sound of some Lovecraftian beast, inching its way across desert sands, devouring all in its darkness. It encompasses all which latter Nile has become; titanic, atonal, Eastern, heavier than Hell itself. The drums and unholy incantation help to make it better, but that ungodly riff carries the moment…