Less is More: How Metallica missed an opportunity with ‘Hardwired…’

It’s now been over two months since the release of Metallica’s Hardwired…to Self-Destruct and I’ve had more time to reflect on the album that took 8 years to materialise. When I review an album I have a very limited time in which to listen to it all the way through and write down my thoughts. Sometimes I know if I like or dislike an album straight away and with others it can take time for the words to come to me. Being a Metallica fan since the age of 14, I was almost certainly going to like the new album overall. I stand by what I said in my review and so I wouldn’t change that, but I can’t help but now write a side note to go with it. The devoted fan within can’t resist this one-off piece of writing as a kind of review supplement.

With such a long gap between albums it’s understandable that Metallica would want to knock us out with their next instalment. As such, I believe that the decision to make a double-disc album of 12 tracks was merely fuelled by a need for it to live up to expectation. Sadly, in this case, I think they would have benefitted from the less is more approach.

The band haven’t released an album with less than 10 tracks since the 80s and Hardwired…to Self-Destruct may have actually been improved by returning to a Lightning/Puppets structure; 1 Disc (2 for the Deluxe), 8 tracks and no filler. Below is the original 2-disc track list followed by the playlist I currently listen to instead of the full album.


Disc 1

  1. Hardwired
  2. Atlas, Rise!
  3. Now That We’re Dead
  4. Moth Into Flame
  5. Dream No More
  6. Halo on Fire

Disc 2

  1. Confusion
  2. ManUNkind
  3. Here Comes Revenge
  4. Am I Savage?
  5. Murder One
  6. Spit Out The Bone

 

 

 

 

 

 

My preferred 8-track version
  1. Hardwired
  2. Confusion
  3. Dream No More
  4. Moth Into Flame
  5. Atlas, Rise!
  6. Now That We’re Dead
  7. Halo On Fire
  8. Spit Out The Bone

This removes the filler (in my opinion) of ‘ManUNkind’, ‘Murder One’, ‘Here Comes Revenge’ and ‘Am I Savage?’ – all of these songs possess certain elements I like but they don’t belong with the rest of the pack in terms of quality. Actually, scratch that, ‘Am I Savage?’ shouldn’t even have made the shortlist at all. That song belongs in Room 101 with the whole of Lulu. You know what, throw ‘Murder One’ in there too. If you’re going to write a tribute to Lemmy guys, at least make it sound like one and not a bunch of recycled Motörhead lyrics on a bed of mundane guitar.

With the alternative (and improved) track list above, you still have the thrash bookends of ‘Hardwired’ and ‘Spit Out The Bone’. The rearranged order also offers a much more consistent structure in terms of the music and the lyrics. Having ‘Halo On Fire’ with its powerful crescendo as the start of the album’s conclusion works much more effectively than a sign-off to a first disc of two with the second containing mostly mediocre songs. Instead, it sets up ‘Spit Out The Bone’ as a fitting close to the album in terms of rhythm, tempo and the lyrical theme of man being taken over by machines.

There are going to be those who defend the filler songs, perhaps even have one of them as their favourite. Good, those songs probably need a bit of defending, because I’m certainly not going to do it. If Metallica had released Hardwired as the 8-track album, it may well have been Will 2 Listen’s first 10/10.

 

By Will Hunt


Read our review of Hardwired…to Self-Destruct here:  Metallica: Hardwired…To Self-Destruct