Metallica’s impact on music is prevalent in all kinds of genres, far and wide. The group’s reach has undoubtedly touched countless facets of dance music, and their titanic legacy is among music’s greats. All of that was known and agreed upon well before the California-natives released their tenth studio album, Hardwired… To Self Destruct, this month. But, there is still plenty that every artist in EDM, and beyond, can glean from Metallica’s most recent work of art.
More than just the latest release in a career full of incredible work, Hardwired… To Self Destruct is the latest milepost in a journey full of life-lessons worth learning, especially if you’re a musician. You don’t get to your tenth album, in your fourth decade as a band, on accident. Sure, luck plays a role; so does timing. But, there are a few aspects of Metallica’s storied career, leading to their latest album, which artists of all kinds can benefit from replicating.
Hardwired… To Self Destruct is the first Metallica studio album since 2008’s Death Magnetic, and does a surprisingly good job of continuing the feel of it’s predecessor, while advancing the band’s sound. The lack of lead-guitarist Kirk Hammet’s name among any of the writing credits didn’t lead to any reduction in solo-work, and there’s something for every kind of Metallica fan in Hardwired… To Self Destruct. That was proven true in the first week of sales for the album, which was released via the band’s independent label Blackened Recordings. It hit number one in an astounding 57 countries, and top-five in 105 countries around the world.
But, how did they get here? They’re one of the founding bands of thrash metal, thriving in 2016. An era where rock music, especially metal, has taken a back-seat in the mainstream to pop, hip-hop, EDM, and more. Yet, there are no cries of the band overstaying their welcome, or that the group is begging for attention that will never match past adoration. Instead, the now all over-50 band is creating and releasing music they love, and we’re among many who hope they never stop.
The first, and most obvious step Metallica took, and continues to take, is creating the music they want to hear. It’s an old rule that applies to art of all kinds, but it’s one that seems to be forgotten often. Over the years, Metallica has shifted in sound and style, but has never relented from doing and creating exactly what they wanted at the time. Whether it’s the lack of bass in …And Justice For All, the slower-pace (and altered band-look) of Load and Reload, working with the San Francisco Symphony for S&M, or the grimey and solo-less St. Anger, Metallica is making the music that sounds good to Metallica.
Not all of these creations are hits with the critics, or long-time fans. The vast majority have done well commercially, and while debates among rock fans will forever rage about which albums stand-out, there’s no doubting the heart in each and every release. Metallica aren’t perfect, and don’t try to be. They make what sounds good to them, at the time, and share it with the world.