A Metallica Fan’s Song-By-Song Guide To ‘Hardwired… To Self Destruct’

Written by Emmy Mack

Metallica have come rampaging back to form with their fierce new slab of heavy metal Hardwired… To Self Destruct. The rifflords’ 10th studio LP sees them reach into a time machine and pull out two thrash-packed discs worth of heavy jams that largely harken back to their long-haired, leather-clad, handlebar-moustached days of yore.

There are stylistic touchstones across the double LP that will awaken nostalgic pangs for all of your most beloved ‘Tallica records, from Kill Em All all the way up to Reload (which is a goddamn sickfest of an album and y’all can suck it). Not a trace of St. Anger or *shudder* the inexplicable Lou Reed collab Lulu to be found. Metallica are a band who learn from their mistakes.

There is still a touch of Death Magnetic about some of the slightly over-bloated songwriting, especially on disc 2, but the production of Hardwired craps all over its predecessor thanks to producer Greg Fidelman letting all the instruments breath. And breathe fire.

The result is a disc that feels very familiar in a lot of ways, but simultaneously catapults Metallica forward into a new era.

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Catch our song-by-song guide to all of the tunes on Hardwired… To Self Destruct, in relation to other Metallica tunes that you (hopefully) know, below.

1. ‘Hardwired’

The disc’s title track is a nod to Metallica’s speed-thrash Kill ‘Em All heyday. Crackneck-paced galloping triplet chugs, machine-gun double kick and a ferocious vocal delivery from Hetfield make this a fierce opener, and the chorus lyrics — “We’re so fucked/shit outta luck/hardwired to self destruct” — will no doubt resonate darkly with many following the US presidential election result.

You’ll probably dig it if you like: Whiplash, Hit The Lights

Album it wouldn’t sound out of place on: Kill ‘Em All

2. ‘Atlas, Rise!’

More reminiscent of the Black Album sound, this mid-tempo thrasher threads Hetfield’s trademark tortured-conscience lyrics through an all-out riff assault, pivoting into vintage ‘Tallica guitarmonies and a wah-soaked Kirk Hammet solo.

You’ll probably dig it if you like: Holier Than Though, Through The Never

Album it wouldn’t sound out of place on: Black 

3. ‘Now That We’re Dead’

This 7-minute epic is powered by a heavy, crunchy groove and packs a big melodic chorus, stuffed with rousing vocal harmonies.

You’ll probably dig it if you like: The Memory Remains, The Thing That Should Not Be

Album it wouldn’t sound out of place on: Reload

4. ‘Moth Into Flame’

Kicking off with more blazing melodic guitarmonies that bleed into pummelling speed-demon riffage and an off-meds guitar solo dripping with trademark wah-wah (naturally), this tune bridges the gap between the all-out thrash of the band’s heyday with the more melodic sensibilities of their middle era, much the same way that many of the songs off Death Magnetic did (except with better production, obvs).

You’ll probably dig it if you like: That Was Just Your Life, The End Of The Line, Through The Never

Album it wouldn’t sound out of place on: Death Magnetic

5. ‘Am I Savage?’

A darkly melodic blues tune with a heavy swing riff that will more than likely trigger Load flashbacks.

You’ll probably dig it if you like: 2 x 4, Wasting My Hate

Album it wouldn’t sound out of place on: Load

6. ‘Halo On Fire’

Clocking in at eight-and-a-half minutes, this plodding slow-burner is a three-part epic that features some of Hetfield’s most impressive vocal work, with the “Yeah!” king pushing his range to the limit, pivoting from clean crooning to vicious growls as the song builds to a fiery climax.

You’ll probably dig it if you like: …And Justice For All, To Live Is To Die

Album it wouldn’t sound out of place on: …And Justice For All

Disc Two

1. ‘Confusion’

The dark sinister riffage and militant marching snares make this one of the most dark, brutal songs on the album, in the vein of Justice‘s The Frayed Ends Of Sanity or a handful of songs off Black.

You’ll probably dig it if you like: Don’t Tread On Me, The Frayed Ends Of Sanity, The Struggle Within

Album it wouldn’t sound out of place on: Black Album

2. ‘Dream No More’

This one kicks off with some stomping Sad But True vibes before Hetfield’s vocals take centre stage on top of some conservative chugga-chugga. Layering the frontman’s high-register melodies over some snarling in the lower octave for maximum creep factor, the song, at least vocally, brings to mind Metallica’s Reload era.

You’ll probably dig it if you like: Sad But True, The House Jack Built, Bad Seed

Album it wouldn’t sound out of place on: Reload

3. ‘ManUNkind’

Kicking off as a horns-in-the-air crowd chanter, ManUNkind summons satan from the swamp with a sleazy heavy swing riff before spiralling off into about 50 other parts. The mellow intro also shifts the spotlight to Robert Trujillo’s tasteful bass work.

You’ll probably dig it if you like: My Friend Of Misery, The Thing That Should Not Be, The Call Of Ktulu, Wasting My Hate, Devil’s Dance

Album it wouldn’t sound out of place on: Reload

4. ‘Here Comes Revenge’

Kicking off with some sinister Hammet dive-bombs on the whammy bar and kicking into some malevolent mid-paced thrash as Lars hammers on the toms, Here Comes Revenge is probably one of the weakest songs on the album, largely because of its lyrical cliches and Death Magnetic B-side vibes.

You’ll probably dig it if you like: The End Of The Line, The Thing That Should Not Be

Album it wouldn’t sound out of place on: Death Magnetic

5. ‘Murder One’

Metallica’s tribute to fallen rock legend Lemmy Kilmister, Murder One starts as a tug-o-war between clean and heavy guitars and goes on to lyrically name-check Motorhead song titles as it chugs into some blistering lead guitar work from Hammet.

You’ll probably dig it if you like: Ain’t My Bitch

Album It Sounds Most Like: Load

6. ‘Spit Out The Bone’

The galloping thrash riffage, pulverising machine-gun drumming, fuzzed-up bass solo sections and venomous vocals of album closer Spit Out The Bone brings it all home with a 7+ minute brick to the face.

You’ll probably dig it if you like: Battery, Damage Inc., Fight Fire With Fire, Trapped Under Ice

Album It Sounds Most Like: Master Of Puppets or Ride The Lightning

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