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metallica-album-reviewAny big Metallica fans will find the sounds on this album immediately recognizable. Lead singer James Hetfield’s vocals sound as intense as ever as he barks out verses and belts out choruses. Guitarist Kirk Hammett is back to lightning-fast solos, with no less wah pedal than expected. There are chugging riffs and lyrics of impending doom, like those of 1991’s “Metallica.” Groovy chords and tender tones reminisce in “Load” and “Reload.” There are some elements missing. All but absent are the iconic, melodic scales from “Master of Puppets.” And in their place are deeper, chunkier riffs. Metallica is no stranger to repetition, but riffs on “Hardwired…” just aren’t interesting enough in their own right to be looped over and over again. Songs such as “Confusion,” “Murder One” and “Here Comes Revenge” seem to plod along with no real destination or conviction. On the other hand, tasty jams “Moth into Flame,” “Now that We’re Dead” and “Halo on Fire” shine brightly while showcasing a variety of the band’s greatest strengths. It’s hard to call the sound on “Hardwired…” a best-of, as it does feel like new Metallica music. The best way to put it is that “Hardwired…” is the sound of 50-year-old rockers looking back on their careers, after reinventing rock and metal for 30 years, and saying, “What are we good at, and how can we use all that to create something new?” It’s a solid entry in the band’s huge discography.

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