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Album Review: Metallica – Hardwired…to Self-Destruct

 
By on Monday, 19th December 2016 at 12:00 pm
 

Metallica Hardwired to Self-Destruct album coverOver the past 20 years or so, the announcement of a new
Metallica album hasn’t been much cause for celebration. Obviously, it’s great that the original behemoths of metal are still not only creating but experimenting. ‘Lulu’, anyone? But they’ve never really hit the same levels of influence that they did with their output in the ‘80s and ‘90s. With ‘Hardwired…to Self Destruct’ they’ve actually managed to recapture some of that earlier success and bring out an album that isn’t actually terrible. Running just under an hour and 20 minutes over two discs, ‘Hardwired…’ feels like Metallica are back in the game and want to make one hell of a statement.

Bar opener ‘Hardwired’, every track on the album runs well over five minutes which means there’s plenty of room for tracks to make an impression. iI’s just a ferocious LP, with palm-muted guitars and demonic sounding riffs, exactly what one wants from a Metallica album. As the album progresses, the intensity of delivery seemingly increases, proving that there’s life in the old dog yet, so to speak. It’s easier to break the album down into its two Volumes, as they both serve their own purpose:

Volume 1

‘Hardwired’, the shortest track on the record, is also the opener. It wastes no time in bursting through your speakers and completely grabbing you to go on this full throttle journey. Frontman James Hetfield has lost none of the anger that fuelled Metallica for so long, though presumably being in one of the most successful metal bands of all time it’s hard to really be *that* angry. Lyrically, the song stands as a testament to 2016: “we’re so fucked, shit out of luck, hardwired to self destruct”. If any truer words of this year have been laid to musical output, please drop us a line on Twitter.

‘Atlas, Rise!’ is the first of the big guns to hit us. Hitting with the immediacy of its predecessor, it takes its time in building to the velocity that Metallica operate at, using more melodic riffs to really power home Hetfield’s raging call of “Atlas, rise!” This method of rallying is used predominantly throughout the entire record, and pretty much the entire Metallica discography, so it’s not exactly new, but they do it bloody well.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFAcOnhcpGA[/youtube]

The centrepiece of disc 1 comes in the form of the final track, ‘Halo On Fire’ At over 8 minutes, it takes you on one hell of a ride. Starting with the standard ferociousness, it then falls into a more dream-like state, a la ‘Enter Sandman’, until it roars back into life. Rinse and repeat this over the course of 3 minutes or so. Then it moves into a second act, though nothing too extreme, as it’s the third act where things pick up. You’re rewarded for the perseverance throughout the beginning of the track with extremely melodic solos, a basic 4/4 beat and absolute power. A perfect closer for the first disc.

Volume 2

Opening the second half, ‘Confusion’ pretty much carries on with the groundwork laid in the prior half. The cleverly titled ‘ManUNkind’ is where a little variation comes into play, starting off with gentle bass and guitar playing wrapping around each other, before the obvious onslaught of noise and power. It does so with a little less melodrama that all of its predecessors, which is soon rectified by ‘Here Comes Revenge’, itself a searing and thunderous track.

Returning to a demonic state is ‘Am I Savage?’, which is rife with religious statement and straight up savageness, which answers the song title question that yes, yes they are. Volume 2 houses the tracks with brief lighter approaches, which only accentuates the barrage once it hits, as shown again in ‘Murder One’. Leaving it once again to the finale of the volume to bring the strongest attack, ‘Spit Out the Bone’ easily has the band at their best, with Hetfield’s snarl being particularly aggressive during the lines “long live machine / the future supreme / man overthrown / spit out the bone”.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m46Z0-HXySo[/youtube]

As a whole, ‘Hardwired…’ does what it’s main job ultimately was, and that’s resurrect the faith that Metallica still have the ability to create savagery and power that is timeless. They sound just as they did 20 to 30 years ago finally, and it just goes to prove why they’re the top dogs in the world of metal.

8/10

Metallica’s tenth and latest studio album ‘Hardwired…to Self Destruct’ is available now from Virgin EMI. For more on Metallica on TGTF, go here.

 

Preview: Reading and Leeds 2015

 
By on Tuesday, 16th December 2014 at 9:00 am
 

Round and round the big festival headliner roundabout goes. Will it be Muse? Unlikely, give it another few years. Foo Fighters? I’d bet good money this is going to happen. Blink-182? Bit early! Metallica? Yeah, why not! They’ve not released anything as a band proper since 2008’s ‘Death Magnetic’!

Upon the announcement, what did Lars Ulrich have to say about playing Reading and Leeds for the fourth time? “We are practically the house band.” You’re not wrong, Lars.

Now, I’m not saying the announcement of undeniably the greatest thrash metal band touring at the moment is a bad thing. But it does seem that these big ticket festivals are becoming overly reliant on a select group of supergroups, rotating the same headliners and introducing a new name to the melting pot oh so infrequently. Queens of the Stone Age and Paramore joined the top table patriarchy last year through their co-headline slot. But really the first time a band reached the line-up summit was Biffy Clyro in 2013. Their headline set at Reading and Leeds last year raised the bar, showing exactly what a band who have been lifted to the top of the bill can achieve with the proverbial wind of change in their sails.

Fast-forward to 2015 and we have, as mentioned by Mr Ulrich, Metallica topping the bill for the fourth time. You know what you get from the Americans, which I can pay testament to after Sonisphere earlier this year. You get a headline set full of flair, personality and tunes. They slayed Glastonbury and left egg on many a head with their superb showmanship. It’s an even safer booking for Reading and Leeds, as heavy metal tends to go down far more favourably in front of 100,000 16- and 17-year olds off their heads on warm Kopparberg and MDMA, compared to 200,000 woolly liberals stoned off their heads stumbling around a farm. Nobody can deny that when the opening riffs of ‘Master of Puppets’ drops, the tweens and the hardcores will all unite in throwing some horns. It’s a no brainer.

As for the rest of the first announcement, the most enticing has to be the return of Jamie T. ‘Carry on the Grudge’ dropped in September of this year and encapsulated everything any fan of the 28-year old poet wanted. The tunes were the kind which burrowed their way into your cerebral cortex and didn’t budge. The South London-born singer-songwriter went away and evolved forward and I can see Richfield Avenue going absolutely mental for him.

As for the rest, Wilkinson is one of those bookings which will appeal to the Snapchat generation, much in the same way Macklemore and Ryan Lewis did last year. For me, I feel it’s not the way I would like to see the festival going.

But I also understand that an event like Reading and Leeds needs to sell tickets.

D’uh.

To purchase basic weekend tickets for Reading Festival 2015, go here, where the price currently stands at £205 plus fees. For tickets to its more northern counterpart Leeds Festival 2015 offered at the same price, head this way.

 

Sonisphere 2014 Review (Part 2)

 
By on Friday, 18th July 2014 at 2:00 pm
 

The first half of John’s Sonisphere 2014 review is here.

On a scout around the site, I stumbled upon the opening few bars of what looked like shaping up to be a storming set from The Bronx. Firstly, I’ve got tremendous respect for a band with the credentials they have, doing their own soundchecks. Small things, but, they weren’t being divas. It’s just cool, OK?

When they indicated they were finishing the tuning and the ‘CHECK, CHECK, CHECKING’, they immediately stormed into ‘Kill My Friends’ with a kind of aggression that turned the sweaty confines of the Bohemia Tent into an altogether more hostile environment. The tent was the perfect environment for their set (or from at least what I saw of it), as it allowed frontman Matt Caughthran to get really up close and personal with the crowd. However, if Caughthran got up close and personal with the now extremely unwashed masses of Sonisphere, then Trash Talk frontman Lee Spielman went that one step further.

The generation gap (and tolerance gap) between bands and their respective fans for acts like Trash Talk and The Bronx comparatively to their older compatriots Metallica and Mastodon was epitomised perfectly throughout Trash Talk’s set. Spielman and co.’s unique brand of vitriolic punk is abrasive and primarily there to offend and shock. So to go along with it, it seems only right that Trash Talk’s live set was a whirlwind of aggression, party drug references and moshing. For the entire set, I was stood next to two 50-year old(ish) metal veterans with Metallica and Iron Maiden logos emblazoned on their t-shirts. During the short bursts of rage-filled lyrics, a look of confusion and puzzlement came over the two gentlemen, as the frontman and bassist threw themselves around the stage in a frenzy. Trash Talk are at the forefront of a new brand of stoner metal, where the live shows are characterised by big, brash displays of bile and vitriol, a far cry from the showmanship of Bruce Dickinson and James Hetfield, but still impressive, if not relatively abrasive.

For most of the set Spielman spent his time amongst the crowd. The masses of snapback clad ‘yoofs’ swinging their arms and elbows around and rarely making any connection with anything but thin air. Trash Talk as a band were summed up perfectly by Spielman himself early on in the set: “Short, succinct and to the point”. With most of their songs played out at around 1-minute long, he wasn’t wrong. The circle pits were the most ferocious of the festival, as Spielman ventured far enough back to find me cowering near the sound desk.

Look, I got ‘all up in his grill’:

It was this sense of incredible crowd participation and the ceaseless energy of the band that made this set one of the highlights of the day for me. Whether their own brand of party-punk would go down well on the main stage at a festival is one thing. But in a crowded tent, Spielman bent the crowd to his will superbly. Which warmed me up for something I’ve been waiting around 6 years for.

METALLICA.

Glastonbury the weekend previous was a huge milestone for the band. Arguably, the claims they had to ‘prove themselves’ at Glastonbury were completely ridiculous. They’re fucking Metallica and they’ve sold more albums than bloody Arcade Fire and Kasabian combined. Plus, name me a person who doesn’t lose all their shit during ‘Enter Sandman’ and I will go and buy a hat, then eat said hat. They answered the critics, sure. But, in doing so, they produced one of Glastonbury’s finest sets, ladened with as many singalong classics that any Chris Martin or Bono could bring.

So returning to a festival where the band will quite literally lauded as gods was going to hardly be daunting for Ulrich, Hetfield, Hammett, and Trujillo. To spice up their most recent tour and give them an excuse to globetrot without another album, Metallica are touring under the banner of ‘By Request’. Meaning we, the peasantry, get to pick the set. That means one thing. The set won’t be littered with random tracks from the deep, dark depths of ‘Death Magnetic’. Instead, it’ll be jam-packed to the brim with hit after hit.

So with the sun still shining down on Knebworth Park and after a sneak peak of ‘Glastallica’, the legendary four-piece strode on stage with a swagger unbeknown to any other act. They’ve conquered Glastonbury and they were about to defeat Sonisphere. Opener ‘Battery’ was met by a tirade of air drumming, which ceased about two and a half hours later when the band finally left the stage.

Every song was belted out with passion and the audience returned the favour by echoing every lyric back at them, from ‘Master of Puppets’, to ‘Whisky in the Jar’, which Hetfield admitted was his favourite song to play at the moment. The best reaction was reserved for ‘Enter Sandman’, as the crowd bounced in unison to the riff that has become synonymous with the band. ‘One’ was played out with a grandeur you don’t really expect at any metal show. However, for me it was ruined by some pillock next to me donning an Adolf Hitler moustache and adopting a ‘Sieg Heil’ pose throughout. Not funny in the slightest.

The gimmick for the day was that one of the songs was picked by the crowd – coming out on top by a whisker was ‘…And Justice for All’ and finishing off the set we had a rousing rendition of ‘Seek and Destroy’, which stopped any early leavers dead in their tracks so they could throw their horns in the Saturn Stage’s direction.

At Sonisphere, Metallica arrived with absolutely diddly shit to prove. Somehow though, they left proving something. So did the new guard, under the guise of Trash Talk, showing they can put on a show.

But, when it comes to stadium rock and getting a mammoth crowd going – leave it to the undisputed kings of thrash.

Well played boys. (10/10)

 

The BBC at Glastonbury 2014 (Saturday): Metallica headlining the Pyramid Stage with ‘One’

 
By on Sunday, 29th June 2014 at 8:30 pm
 

Wherever you will be hanging your hat this weekend, whether you’re joining the sheep at Worthy Farm or you’ve got your feet up in front of the telly, us here at TGTF will have you covered when it comes to Glastonbury 2014. The dedicated people they are, the folks at the BBC will be working all hours during the festival and feeding us live coverage as it becomes available. What does this mean for you? We’ll be passing along all the best bits to you, our faithful readers.

The announcement of Metallica as one of the three Pyramid Stage headliners at Glastonbury 2014 was met with cheers or derision, depending on which side of the hard rock line you fell on. Judge for yourself how well they did closing out Saturday night at Worthy Farm from the performance of ‘One’ below.

For more of the BBC’s Glastonbury coverage online, head this way. Stay tuned for more videos from Glasto 2014 right here on TGTF.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4odVTSdSY88[/youtube]

 

Preview: Sonisphere 2014

 
By on Wednesday, 26th February 2014 at 9:30 am
 

Emerging from the smouldering ashes of its Britannic demise, Sonisphere returns after what appeared to be ‘an indefinite hiatus’ year in 2013 – it seemed the inevitable excitement/carnage that ensued post-The Big Four in 2011 was too much for Sonisphere’s Knebworth bash to handle. It was obvious the festival was suffering in 2012: they were in the proverbial doldrums of booking acts, with their top billing going to aged hair metallers Kiss – followed by Queen and Faith No More – I suppose again though, post-The Big Four the question is for any metal band booker, where do we go from here?

In true Fawkes from Harry Potter style though, the festival has spread its wings and is spreading a trail of thrashy fire around Knebworth in preparation for the festivals erstwhile rebirth-as-it-was(ish).

The line-up will cater to both the most seasoned mosh-bandit, to the slighter rocker – anything from your fully kitted out – I’m talking all the clichés, studded jacket, trousers the colour similar to that seen on a solar eclipse and piercings from ear to ear- heavy music fan, to the meekest of rock enthusiast, who furtively enjoys a bit of ska.

To start of proceedings arguably one of the best live acts still doing the circuits, The Prodigy will be kindly falling in line with the phoenix metaphors with their displays of twisted firestarting. While the classics, ‘Firestarter’, ‘Breathe’, ‘Poison’ and ‘Out of Space’ will be sure to whip any crowd into a frenzied mass, it’s tracks like ‘Omen’ and ‘Take Me to the Hospital’ from their most recent record ‘Invaders Must Die’, which are more familiar with the younger generations who will be putting their bodies on the line at Knebworth.

Joining them on Friday’s bill are fresh from the Kerrang! tour band, Limp Bizkit, bringing with them a host of nu-metal nostalgia along with some new material which has even included a collaboration with that stand-up character L’il Wayne. If that’s not your cup of tea, the 5th of July sees THE Iron Maiden appear at Knebworth, supported by the thundering riffs of Deftones and the not-so-thundering-riffs, but wholeheartedly rocking Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls.

Bruce Dickinson’s Union Jack waving exploits not cutting it for you? Thoroughly incredulous towards ‘The Number of the Beast’? Fear not, the thrash on the Saturn Stage will be tantamount to your approval – enter Slayer. I challenge you – nay, I dare you – not to well and truly lose every semblance of ‘your shit’ when ‘Reign in Blood’ drops. They’re an institution before being a band, and if their cult following doesn’t sell out Knebworth alone, Alice in Chains and Metallica (with maybe a less menacing Lars Ulrich pictured at top) should do the trick in equal measure.

Add to that equation, that if you snag a weekend ticket ASAP, you’ll be able to help choose 17 out of 18 of Metallica’s set. So you’ll be looking forward to a Sunday closing set chocked to the block with the hits you want. And really, what else could you want?

To book tickets and more information on Sonisphere as it returns for a new year, visit their official Web site.

 

16 Things You Learn at Download Festival

 
By on Wednesday, 20th June 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

Last weekend was the all-out metal mudfest known as Download Festival. A hundred thousand rock and rollers invaded the hallowed ground of Donington Park for 3 days of the best hard rock and metal bands in the world. TGTF was there in full waterproof regalia to throw horns and throw down with the masses, but what did we actually learn from this experience?

Mud sucks
On Wednesday it rained. On Thursday it rained even more. This meant come Friday afternoon when the gates for the arena were due to be open tens of thousands of cold and pissed off metallers were left queuing for hours because areas of the arena simply weren’t safe. This led to the cancellation of Rise to Remain and Cancer Bats from main stage.

Billy Talent are gents
In a true act of bromanship, Billy Talent helped out fellow Canadians Cancer Bats by letting them play ‘Hail Destroyer’ to a crowd who were still annoyed at the cancellation of the noisemongers. Luckily in the evening Cancer Bats were given a slot in one of the tents which apparently kicked major arse.

Machine Head rule the circle pits
Not only are Machine Head one of the best metal bands touring today, they managed to start a total of 29 circle pits at one point – which is a record for Download Festival.

The Prodigy are metal
Not in their sound, obviously, but the pits were still opening and the crowd going berserk for the almost 2-hour set. And what’s more metal than flares and smoke bombs going off in a mosh pit surrounded by 70,000 people?

A Game of Thrones is cool
As is the same every year, you can text in messages to the big screen for everyone to see. One of the most popular this year was “Winter is coming”, which (for those who don’t know) is the motto of the Stark family in A Game Of Thrones.

Skyrim is cool
Another favourite for the big screen was ‘I used to [insert random task here], until I took an arrow to the knee’. A parody of one of the stock lines used in conversation in Skyrim.

People still love 300
It’s a chant that’s been following festivals around for years. Someone shouts “Spartans! What is your profession?” and everyone in a 10 metre radius responds with “Aaaooh! Aaaooh! Aaaooh!” Clever, right?

People love wrestling
WWE, not actual Olympic-style wrestling. Chants of “Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!…” were rife throughout camp sites and the arena in relation of WWE Superstar Daniel Bryan. Similarly the odd chants of “Let’s go Cena!” and “Cena sucks!” could be heard.

Saxon still rule
This is just a fact. It doesn’t matter how old they are or how long it’s been since they had any notable success, Saxon have been tearing it up for years and still drew a massive crowd at midday. Middle-aged men with long hair dressed in denim and leather is what Download is all about.

Everyone loves boobs
Another trait synonymous with Download is the ‘boobcam’. Whenever a girl climbs onto someone’s shoulders the crowd camera will pan to them and more often than not the girl will bear her breasts to the cheering of all men present. During Steel Panther the boob-o-meter was off the scale. Constant unveiling of chests throughout the entire 50-minute set until all the teenage boys were left dazed and confused. A lot of bands were formed that night because kids want to grow up to be Steel Panther.

Bands love balls
A tactic that both Metallica and Black Label Society adopted was to drop balls on the crowd emblazoned with the band name. Not the most metal thing over the weekend, but it did look cool.

Backwards is the new forwards
Metallica played their legendary Black Album in it’s entirety to close the Saturday of Download. But decided to play it backwards instead of the correct order, meaning fairweather fans had to endure the whole record before finally getting to ‘Enter Sandman’.

It’s not just metal fans
During the rock karaoke on Wednesday night there was a version of a Florence and the Machine song. Then that night a group of acoustic guitar-loving guys were singing Kings Of Leon. Not cool.

MegaDave is bigger than post-hardcore
One of the most exciting reunions in the past year has been the return of post-hardcore pioneers Refused. Unfortunately, despite the buzz around the reunion and their legions of fans, the clash with Megadeth meant they didn’t receive the crowd they deserved. Catch them on tour!

Some things never change
Along with the aforementioned ‘Spartans!’ chant, it’s ‘Buttscratcher!’ that is still the festival favourite. Heard shouted at random over the entire weekend, as well as being texted to the big screen, it’s outlasted previous spontaneous exclamations such as ‘Timmy!’ and ‘Loud noises!’ Hopefully there’ll be something new next year.

Black Sabbath are the best metal band ever
That’s all you need to know. They destroyed Donington on the final day to what could have been the biggest crowd of the weekend. Ozzy, Tony and Geezer still have it. A very metal and very emotional performance.

 
 
 

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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