Hardwired to defend Metallica

It says in my bio I “regularly defend Metallica beyond the point of reason.” With a new song released to the public and plans for the next album revealed, it’s time for me to go to work.

Yesterday, Metallica released details about their new album Hardwired…To Self-Destruct and a video for the song “Hardwired.” You probably already checked it out. If not, or if you need a refresher, here it is:



When I hit play on this song the first time, I immediately started headbanging with a smile plastered across my face, heedless of the other cubicle jockeys around me. That’s because I heard the band I was introduced to as a child through my brother’s copy of …And Justice For All, playing a song in the style they pioneered with gusto.  

The chugging at the beginning evolved into a series of solid thrash riffs. Lars’ unsophisticated but energetic timekeeping incorporated some rapid fire double bass. James barked about his existential angst. Kirk hit his wah pedal and tossed off a solo. Rob…played bass. And I loved it.

I know the naysayers will tell me I’m blinded by nostalgia. This is a band that was highly formative to me in my youth and therefore I cannot objectively judge the music they produce. And to that I say…Yeah, no shit.

There’s no such thing as “objectively” judging a work of art. Our experiences of literature, film, painting, and music alike are always colored by context. That can involve familiarity with source material, loyalty to a particular artist or genre, or just the mood you happen to be in that day.

So when I listen to this song, I hear a band I grew up on playing the kind of music that made me love them and, in turn, had a tremendous impact on my life. Metallica opened the door for me, not only to thrash, but elliptically to the new wave of British heavy metal, punk rock, d-beat, and a whole range of other styles. Without hearing “One” as a kid, I probably wouldn’t have spent the better part of my life going to shows and performing with bands, and I almost certainly would not be writing for a blog called Toilet Ov Hell.

You can be dismissive of that kind of influence and say if it hadn’t been Metallica it would have been some other band. I’m not so sure, and I’m not the sort to take something that has been so important to me for granted. So yes, even after all these years and all their questionable decisions, I root for Metallica. I’m willing to put a positive spin on even their most experimental and universally derided ventures because I appreciate that they became one of the biggest bands on the planet and kept finding ways to challenge themselves (even if they weren’t always up to the challenge).

I can perceive what you may consider to be the flaws in “Hardwired.” The lyrics of the chorus, “We’re so fucked,/Shit out of luck/Hardwired to self-destruct,” are not exactly giving Bob Dylan or even J.R. Hayes a run for his money. But also I know I don’t listen to thrash looking for deep philosophical insight. What matters is that Hetfield yells the words with conviction – and that he follows the chorus with a “Go!”

And yeah, it’s another production from Rick Rubin protege Greg Fidelman, responsible for the overpoweringly loud mix of Death Magnetic as well as Repentless from SlayerSnakes for the Divine by High on Fire, and lots of other stuff. You can object to the sound of the kick drum and the guitar tone and make a strong case. And, in turn, I will admit that as long as I can hear everything clearly, I dig the music, and it’s not at St. Anger levels of obnoxious (even I have my limits), I don’t care that much about these issues. I mean, I’ve spent many hours of my life listening to Transilvanian Hunger, so some dubious sonic choices are not going to be enough to turn me off.metallicahardwiredcd

On the other hand, let me tell you why I am excited to check out the full album. When I first heard this song, I assumed it was a final track in the vein of “Damage, Inc.” or “Dyers Eve” – a fast, straightforward thrash fest to close things out.  I was surprised to learn from the track list that it was actually the album opener.

Now, I get the sense that this very long album is going to take us through many corners of what Metallica has done over the years, from primitive thrash to ballads to, yes, maybe even Southern-inflected hard rock. They may take some turns that I can’t quite get behind. But as long as they keep trying different things, I will give each record a chance and do my best to appreciate it.

Because loving an artist of any kind isn’t about approving of every single choice they make. It’s seeing the greatness they are capable of and following them as they attempt to reach that pinnacle. Creatively, Metallica will never be at the forefront of metal or even thrash ever again. Too many bands, from Coroner to Vektor, have carried that baton.

Nonetheless, Metallica still deserves our respect for writing and recording (at least) four highly influential masterpieces. And when they make a fun song and put it out into the world, I feel they deserve for people to at least try enjoying it for what it is instead of immediately tearing it down.

I preordered my vinyl copy of Hardwired…To Self-Destruct, ugly cover and all. And I cannot wait for it to get here on November 18. However it turns out, I’m going to spend 80 minutes headbanging and being ecstatic that one of my favorite bands of all time is still out there creating music. And if that makes me a sucker, a poser, or just an individual of questionable taste, well, I guess I’m shit out of luck. 


Written by:

Published on: August 19, 2016

Filled Under: Metal, Opinion

Views: 1088

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  • Let’s face it, if it weren’t for Hetfield’s vocals you wouldn’t be able to discern this from any other band. It’s average which is the worst thing you can be in this day and age. Not bad enough to laugh at and not good enough to praise. Pretty forgettable.

    • Commodus, Flusher Of Worlds

      They’re bringing Avenged Sevenfold on tour, so it’s going to be hard to tell which is Metallica and ASF to begin with without looking at them.

      • I don’t know whether I find that shocking or if I don’t

        • Commodus, Flusher Of Worlds

          Gotta give ASF, as much as I can’t stand them, credit. They’ve put out the most consistent Metallica albums since the Load.

      • Dave Vincent’s Perm

        Easy. One singer is doing his best James Hetfield impression, the other is M. Shadows.

  • Metallica really needs to stop using blood and jizz in their album art.

  • Mosh Hoff

    Without Hetfield’s annoying vocals and Lars’ embarassing drumming, this would be, at best, Z-tier thrash that no one would care about.

    The truth hurts, guys.

    • I’m pretty indifferent about it. We’re only talking about it because of their place in metal history, this isn’t contributing anything to the present or the future.

  • It was more of a surprise than the Darkthrone track.


    That intro riff is siqqqqqqqqqqqqq.


  • more beer

    That band picture, makes them look like breathing bobbleheads.

    • Jajajaja, yeah, the lesser fish eye effect is damn weird in this one.

    • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

      Look at this fucking nipple. Shitty Drummer by Calvin Klein.

      • more beer


      • But does it double bass? No, it does not.

      • Dave Vincent’s Perm

        Dank jacket tho

  • Abradolf Lincler

    i stopped caring about Metallica a long time ago. i hate to be an echo chamber here but this isnt revitalizing my interest in them at all

  • I think I’m with Dr. K in this one. I’m not a Metallica fan, but this song was very fun! Even with the annoying Lars and annoying production. Sadly, I don’t think I would listen to the entire album because it is a FREAKING DOUBLE ALBUM SO FUCK OFF!

    Aside, I think that meanwhile we are all complaining or debating about it, there’s a whole open world that is enjoying the song and sharing it on social media. I know a lot of people that will buy this record and will make them profitable again, after the Through the Never fluke. I shared the song to some non-metalheads “rockers” on work and they liked it, none of them pointed some flaws. Metallica is not making an album for underground seekers or Bandcamp maniacs like us.

    Let’s face it, our opinion about “metal relevance”, “generic thrash” or “stupid production” is minority this time, this is not our realm. Just like everything in current world, our digital impressions of thoughts are worthless.

    • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

      Profitable again? The Metallica bank account is doing just fine I’m sure regardless of whatever bullshit they’re pedaling.

      • Man, did you saw the Through the Never debacle? They lost a lot of money with that movie and they had to tour a lot so James (YEAH) could buy his Armani’s or whatever!

        • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

          Yeah, I heard. I’m glad they lost money. That movie is the epitome of an inflated ego.

          • Wow, spot on. Epic fail in the best way.

          • Indeed, it was a weird exercise to publicize them as the ‘biggest rock band in the world’.

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            I mean look at this fucking artwork!?!?!?!?! WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS SHIT?!?!?!!

          • Jajajajajaja! I don’t know, dude. Is ugly, and not in a good way.

          • 0 Pulls.

          • It looks like something done by a student in a beginners Photoshop class.

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            How could they look at this and go “Looks killer!”?

          • Because Metallica are Posers who like Wolves.

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain


          • Commodus, Flusher Of Worlds
          • Commodus, Flusher Of Worlds

            A lollipop on meth?

          • PostBlackenedWhaleGaze

            Look like a poor attempt at Crowbar’s Odd Fellows Rest.


      • A new album, if anything, just keeps an endless stream of nerd-raged-commentary flowing, keeping them in the genre spot light.

        That is my HOT TAKE. (did I do that right?)

        • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

          I hate the internet.

          • ME GORAK!!!™

            EVEN BONDAGE PORN????

          • Commodus, Flusher Of Worlds

            Or Japanese erotic fart films (not porn and no nudity, but still slightly NSFW).


          • Abradolf Lincler

            this is awesome

          • Commodus, Flusher Of Worlds

            I found it as a recommendation to “Zombie Ass: Toilet Of The Dead” (where I got my avatar from. Youtube it and the trailer, since it’s kinda NSFW and would probably get me the banhammer posting it on here).

      • Commodus, Flusher Of Worlds

        Well, they did lose fuckloads of money on that Through The Never nonsense and the Orion Festival, to at least the tune of $23 million or so. They’re not going to be sleeping on anyone’s couches or pushing carts full of cans anytime soon, but even for them that’s a huge hunk of change.


    • o________0

  • Two comments:

    1. I was surprised it took 15 seconds for Lars to stick his tongue out.
    2. Sounds like a B track from Death Magnetic, just not as loud.

  • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

    The track was decent, but still nothing that amazing and great. But a double album??? And that artwork is fucking HORRIBLE!

      • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

        Exactly. And I’m not sure what people are hearing but that new song does not have wah-wah on it.

        • fucking wah-wahs hahahahaa

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            I used to really dig effect pedals. But all it does is make more noise than it’s worth. The only effect pedal I own is a Dunlop Wah-Wah I got when I was like 14.

          • Ayreonaut

            I had a wah pedal once. I tried to use it, got mad, and sold it on Craigslist

        • Commodus, Flusher Of Worlds

          It’s a halfway decent solo for once. I kinda had some hope for this kinda thing after his solo on Exodus’ newest album.

        • Señor Jefe El Rosa

          My thoughts as well. I listened to the solo, didn’t hear a wah, expected to hear another with a wah and it never showed up.

  • Mosh Hoff

    Also Kirk Hammet still hasn’t figured out how to solo and Trujillo’s tone is the best thing about this (finally).

    • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

      He really phoned that lead in.

  • Has anyone gotten any of the boxsets for Kill Em All and Ride the Lighting? They looked rad.

    • Abradolf Lincler

      then youd have to go thru the explanation of how you dont like any of their new material to anyone who sees em

      not worth it

      • I don’t have friends. No one will see them.

        • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

          Friends are a waste of time.

        • Abradolf Lincler


        • Xinen

          You’ve got us broski, if I were to feast my eyes upon your glorious… collection, I’m sure it’d be awesome with no explanation needed save for personal anecdotes.

    • Señor Jefe El Rosa

      I can’t drop 150 on an album.

    • sweetooth0

      I already got the first 4 when they re-did them as deluxe 2LP (and 4LP for And Justice) 45RPM half mastered super duper editions, so I’ve spent the extent of money I am going to spend on re-issues of the good Metallica albums. I heard the new releases have compressed sound too. Honestly my Banzai pressing of Kill Em All on single 33 RPM sounds better than the double 45rpm anyway. If anything, best to seek out the vintage pressings and stop there.

  • 365ChaosRiddenDays

    In defense of the good and nasty Thrash Metal: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_q-FTyFHAM

  • RustyShackleford



  • Commodus, Flusher Of Worlds

    I liked it, even though I’ll admit……….. I’ve spent the last 21 years hearing new Metallica songs and having a sinking sense of jimmy-crushing disappointment. So, I went in with that same sense of unease, ready for some lolbuttzing, and yet came out satisfied. Given, the lyrics are sound like a 10 year old wrote them, but damn did it deliver! Could’ve turned up the bass, though, and given it more bottom end, as well as the bass drumming getting turned up. Could’ve seemed more chunky.

    That said, hopefully, with the petulant whining from Mustaine regarding the whole Havok (who took the high road and acted professional) debacle, I hope they take Havok on tour just to piss Dave off. Fuck him, fuck Megaderp, and get Kiko back in Angra!


      • Commodus, Flusher Of Worlds

        Oh, BTW, new Electric Six on October 7th.


        • Though I am not surprised (as it has become a yearly event), I am p excited. They got some ‘splainin’ to do after the last two.

          • Commodus, Flusher Of Worlds

            Yeah, “Bitch Don’t Let Me Die” was a bit of a letdown.

  • Commodus, Flusher Of Worlds

    Oh, and the album art?
    365DaysOfHorror, this is your holy grail, your hour of glory, your coup de grace!

  • Ayreonaut

    And that album cover is WEAK

  • Señor Jefe El Rosa

    Excellently written, Dr. Kolkey.

  • Guacamole Jim

    Great article, and I feel the same way about bands that were formative to me. But if taste is subjective, as you’ve argued (and I agree), then my subjective taste is that this song isn’t good. And I don’t feel the need to respect it simply because Metallica used to be good. That bass drum tone will haunt my dreams for many moons.

  • Commodus, Flusher Of Worlds

    Double album? Not sure how I feel about this one, since there’s very very few double albums I have and can actually sit through (M83’s “Hurry Up We’re Dreaming” is the last one I can think of). With that in mind, I’m calling it: this will be Metallica’s last CD before they finally call it a day and retire.

  • Elegant Gazing Globe

    No Jason, I think it makes you a Metallicuck

  • Elegant Gazing Globe

    I’m buying this record too

  • When At the Gates released a new album I said “meh”. But when Gorguts did it, I went “huzzah!”. It’s just not enough for a band to release new material that’s bleh; there needs to be some inspiration behind it, some sort of fresh spin put on the material.

    But really my man Link said it best, I’ve become a Bandcamp maniac in the past two years (coincidence?) and therefore I am no longer a member of the band’s intended audience. Ah well, we’ll always have LuLu: one of the funniest albums ever recorded.

  • tigeraid

    I’ve never understood the Metallica-hate, other than the Napster nonsense. Lars is pretty fucking annoying, I agree, but I’ll take Metallica’s first five albums, PLUS Load, PLUS Death Magnetic, and forgive St Anger as a weak experiment…. Over just about all of Anthrax’s offerings, just about any Slayer made in the last little while, and a giant junk of awful Mustaine-ness. All four of the Big Four are guilty of making awesome shit, and some terribad stuff. I’ll take Metallica’s terribad stuff over the others.

    And this tune sounds pretty gud.

  • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

    It feels like no one cares about the music anymore, it’s all about the name. No one would care about this if it wasn’t called Metallica, well someone would obviously, but it would go largely unnoticed.
    Extremely boring, mediocre riff, bad, middle school lyrics, extremely shitty soubd and Lars is not a good drummer at all.
    I would have rathe rhad a really bad song because at least it woyld have made me feel (ehich, ironically majes this the most offensively bad song possible).

    Fuck this, fuck you and fuck everything.

  • Count_Breznak

    A poser, mostly a poser.

  • The Mighty Thorange

    I find this song okay. But it is still the best song they have done since The Black Album – apart from All Nightmare Long (terrible production on that whole album but that song was awesome.) But I must say that the riff after the last section fucking ruled. My experience with albums released in the past year or so is that the first song released always seems to be the weakest one on the album so I am hoping against hope that this is the case here. If so, it means this album should be really good. Hopefully.

  • xengineofdeathx

    Cover art is dumb as fuck, and looks like Oddfellow’s Rest on LSD. This song was decent though, kinda gives me some hope for the rest of the album? I’m well aware that a lot of better metal exists in this day and age, but I always still hold out hope that Metallica will make another cool album, or at least something on par with the shit that Kreator and Exodus have done lately. Hammet’s leads have always been one of my favorite things about this band, and I hope he steps it up on the other songs.

  • Xinen

    I’m really not qualified to speak on this since I don’t like the band. I know their history and such but thrash alone just doesn’t do it for me. As people though they always came off as arrogant twats and that I have a hard time overlooking. Don’t let me get any fans down though, not like it would I suspect.

  • Jason! You are a man basking in the light of Reason. This is a ridiculously well-written and persuasive article.

    (Too bad it was about Metallica.)

  • dan

    I can totally see why people like this track, but I think it’s more for die hard Metallica fans and casual metal fans.
    Anyone who’s not in those groups is less likely to be impressed, for the simple reason that there’s a ton of bands working in a similar vein doing way more interesting stuff, but who mightn’t be on the radar of more casual listeners, and don’t get the boost that being Metallica gives.
    Having grown up with Metallica I’m happy enough to see them doing something that’s at least decent, at the same time, ifor this wasn’t Metallica I doubt I’d even have listened to it through.
    I’m not one for solos, so I don’t mind if the solo was phoned in, but the mix leaves a lot to be desired I think.
    As an example I think Trap Them’s recent track Hellionaires blows this out of the water.
    This is one for the fans, and for people who like the odd bit of metal, for the slightly obsessive among us I don’t think this’ll do it.

  • NDG

    Fuck, the only thing this song has going for it is the pace and the fact it clocks in under 4 minutes.

    Then I hear they are releasing a double album?! These pricks have no filter whatsoever.

    …and they won’t be able to pull this off live.