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Metallica - 'Hardwired... To Self-Destruct' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/27/29/5a/metallica-hardwired-to-self-destruct-37-1494792486.jpg Hot

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Is it a classic? I'll let you know in twenty-five years.

The first four Metallica albums saw continued developments in both writing and playing, but it was the self-titled 1991 album and its astounding impact on the scene that cemented the band's status. It proved to be a time-consuming collaboration with producer Bob Rock that saw a slight shift in style, generating a focused, balanced and instantly appealing set of songs that has proved difficult to repeat. There have been long periods of inactivity between releases, periods that have occasionally degenerated into a chaotic parody when a major implosion has been expected, but despite the difficulties and traumas the live arena has continued to be the comfort zone and natural environment where the band have always excelled.

'Hardwired...To Self-Destruct' sees a return to form in terms of recorded output and for many is the natural successor to 'Load', and a vast improvement over all the other albums since. It is not without its flaws (running time and repetition), but any doubts about Metallica's ability to create and challenge, whilst still staying relevant, have been well and truly dispelled.

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The opening title track is a short hard-hitting introduction to a new found hunger and sets the scene perfectly for the eleven mini epics that follow, with 'Atlas, Rise' being a personal favourite. James Hetfield reminds everyone he is a vocal force to be reckoned with and alongside Kirk Hammet delivers a barrage of riffs that have melody and imagination at their core. 'Moth Into Flame' is another great track that brings to mind the "Black" album as well as 'Master Of Puppets'. 'Now That We're Dead', 'Dream No More' and 'Halo On Fire' complete a faultless half dozen that make up the first disc and the big riffs, addictive hooks and venomous vocals are a constant feature. The first half of the album is so strong that the second half (disc two) suffers as a result. That is not to say the songs are bad, it is just that musically and thematically there is a sense of deja-vu and a lack of variation in tempo. I would have preferred two or three less songs to reduce the overall seventy-eight minute running time and have everything contained on one disc.

There's a lot of music to take in, especially if you go for the 'Deluxe Edition' that comes with an extra disc containing another eighty minutes of covers and live material, but is it a classic? I'll let you know in twenty-five years.

Dave Bott

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