Metallica have become a band who tries to be smarter than they are. They are a gang of savage riffing rockheads, but I feel that they so bad want to be artistic innovators or creative geniuses.
Therefore this albums sounds kind of like an overthought Guide Michelin-dish, crafted by the kebab kings down the corner. Point being, they should capitalize their strengths.
That being said, the guys seem to have fun playing together again here. You can hear the passion for the music and that they’re really liking what they’re doing. And another positive thing is the production, I must say it sounds amazing. Metallica has had their high peaks and deep lows when it comes to production, but here they nailed it and that actually makes the riffs and the songs a little bit better than they are, and I’m not going to hold that against them. Songs are as good as the total sum of many things, production being one of those things.
But it’s still a shame that the strained songwriting makes the album in general a bit stiff. It lacks what could be called the good old groove! It sounds kind of like Hetfield and Ulrich has recollected 100 riffs they threw away 20 years ago, and then piled them upon each other in a confusing order.
Which makes me think of another important thing, who takes the responsibility to tell the guys that an album don’t need to be longer than the cold war? Hardwired is excruciatingly long. An editor should have entered the studio with a machete and chopped every song in half. Metallica needs to start killing some darlings.
Anyway, let us wind this up on a good note, there are things to be constructive about. I think there are jolly moments on this album and I find some riffs really cool, and some even great. Also, as mentioned, the production is really fancy, and here and there the album actually breathes good old ’Tallica.
Best songs: Spit Out the Bone, Hardwired, Atlas, Rise!