Artists of the week: Metallica
As one of the biggest North-American acts of the last four decades, Metallica represents many different things for so many people: one of the founding big four bands of trash metal; the talented musicians that expanded the limits of trash, using speed and volume not for their own sake, but to enhance their intricately structured compositions; the group that pushed heavy metal to the mainstream; the millionaires that persecuted their fans in the wake of the digital era; the short-cut hair and middle-aged stars that filled trash with overblown orchestral arrangements; the irrelevant old-timers that kept releasing dated records every five years or so; the favorite punching bag for a new generation of hipster music journalists; the band from the eighties that just won’t go.
All of them are, of course, partially right. For every masterpiece the band released during their career (1983’s Kill ‘Em All, 1984’s Ride The Lightning and 1986’s Master of Puppets), there are forgettable albums (1997’s Reload and 2008’s Death Magnetic) and others that really didn’t add anything to their legend (1996’s Load, 2003’s Saint Anger and 2011’s Lulu). Furthermore, the trajectory has been rather downhill in both quality and popularity and the band has never remotely reached in recent years the peaks of their innovative records that helped shape in the eighties the extreme music landscape for the following decades.
This is why their new album Hardwired… to Self-Destruct is such a thrilling and riveting surprise. It is not only their best batch of songs since 1991’s chart-topping eponymous black album as it the first in which they drop their irritating tendency of slowing down and shining up their music. Guitar solos and tearjerkers are diminished and the combo of killer riffs and thick rhythm constructions are preeminent. In fact, this may be their first record that revisits their glorious days adding something that could only be spawned from their maturity as top-notch musicians. You can add Metallica from the list of great comebacks that 2016 has offered us so far.
João Pedro da Costa is a web studies scholar and a music fan.