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The 25 Best Metal Albums of 2010 – 2019, #12: Metallica, Hardwired… to Self-Destruct

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MetalSucks recently polled nearly 180 prominent metal musicians and industry insiders to determine The 25 Best Metal Albums of 2010 – 2019! (You can read all about the voters and the methodology behind the poll here.) Over the next few weeks, we’ll be counting down the entire list, one entry per day.

The countdown continues today with Hardwired… to Self-Destruct (Blackened), the 2016 release from Metallica!

Metallica spent a decade making some of the best albums in the history of metal and then two decades making albums that were divisive at best and punchlines at worst. 2008’s Death Meh-gnetic was the latter era’s creative peak, and a lot of us assumed it was the best Metallica could do at this point, at least in terms of making a sheer metal album that was truly worthy of their name.

And then came Hardwired… to Self-Destruct, a no-bullshit, honest-to-Cliff thrash record. Songs like “Moth Into Flame,” “Atlas, Rise!,” and the title track are the soundtrack to a speeding ticket if ever there was one. And even when the album slows down, on cuts like “Here Comes Revenge” and “Now That We’re Dead,” the songs remain heavy; there’s no “Un4given” here (phew!). For a great many fans, Hardwired was the Metallica album they’d been waiting for since the early ’90s (at least).

Still, Hardwired is more than just an inducement to mosh like it’s 1989 — it also feels like an earnest representation of Metallica’s creative growth. James Hetfield couldn’t sound like he was still in his 20s if he wanted to (although he does a pretty decent job at the 2:35 mark of “Spit Out the Bone”), but he doesn’t even try on Hardwired, carrying over the actual singing skills he amassed in the Bob Rock days. There are also long stretches of songs like “Now That We’re Dead” and album highlight “ManUNkind” that would have seemed wildly out of place on Master of Puppets. Shit, bruh, “Am I Savage?” is the best Load song not to be on either Load!

In other words, Hardwired isn’t just a throwback record that’s trying to pretend the last twenty years never happened; it’s more like it took the band twenty years to synthesize all the various things they wanted to try into something satisfying. But hey, better late than never! Welcome to the 21st century, Metallica. We missed you.

The 25 Best Metal Albums of 2010 – 2019:

#25: Cult of Luna & Julie Christmas, Mariner (2016)
#24: Triptykon, Eparistera Daimones (2010)
#23: Pig Destroyer, Book Burner (2012)
#22: Yob, Clearing the Path to Ascend (2014)
#21: The Black Dahlia Murder, Ritual (2011)
#20: Mastodon, Once More ‘Round the Sun (2014)
#19: At the Gates, At War with Reality (2012)
#18: Meshuggah, Koloss (2012)
#17: Gorguts, Colored Sands (2012)
#16: Between the Buried and Me, The Parallax II: Future Sequence (2012)
#15: The Ocean, Pelagial (2013)
#14: Kvelertak, Kvelertak (2010)
#13: Judas Priest, Firepower (2018)

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