It’s funny how the psychology of salesmanship works – after a certain point, one has to wonder where the logic goes. A great example of that can be found in the Deluxe Edition, 3CD version of Hardwired… To Self-Destruct. As previously stated in my review of the standard-issue 2CD version of the release, Metallica‘s new album is a great trip back to the early, shreddy and fairly lean period in the band’s history – before the “dinosaur rock” years of the band’s career screwed everything up and needlessly complicated their music. It’s great – and the logic of salesmanship dictates that “if ‘some’ is good, how could ‘more’ not be better?” Well, it’s true that the 3CD incarnation of the album isn’t bad – but that is not to say “more is better,” in this case.
On top of the two CDs which originally comprised Hardwired… To Self-Destruct, a third CD of studio and live cuts has been added. Now, the added studio cuts (four of them) really do play like the dictionary definition of B-sides (“Lords Of Summer” is a well-regarded and exposed cut, and then there’s a really good cover of “When A Blind Man Cries” by Deep Purple, a medley of Rainbow songs and a cover of “Remember Tomorrow” by Iron Maiden are among the tracks which appear on Disc Three), but the live fare culled from performances which happened earlier this year at Rasputin Music in Berkeley, CA and U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN are the real story on this expanded collection.
While the live tracks may have come from a couple of different sources, they combine to make a solid image and presentation of Metallica as the band exists in 2016. Now thirty-five years after they started, Metallica have their thing down flawlessly and it shows. As soon as “Hit The Lights” (taken from the band’s show at Rasputin on Record Store Day 2016) hits listeners, they’ll have no choice but to just go limp or risk being crushed under the weight of the attack. Here, drummer Lars Ulrich already sounds warm and loose as his kit simply seems to submit to his whims while the guitar assault supplied by James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett blazes forth with the inevitable fire and destruction that only a flow of fresh-from-a-volcano lava is capable of; it is just awesome.
The end of the song doesn’t stem the flow either; as it continues, listeners will find that the incredible force of the performances of Metallica staples like “For Whom The Bell Tolls,” “Ride The Lightning,” “The Four Horsemen” and a pretty cool, pre-release rendition of “Hardwired” included here is absolutely unbelievable. They’re unbelievable when one considers the fact that some of these songs are no less than thirty-two years old, after all, and the average age of the men playing them is around 53. In a situation like that, the temptation to pull a punch or two would be very real, but that never happens here. There is not a single phoned-in performance anywhere to be found, nor is there a poorly-executed one; everyone’s just playing like their lives and reputations depend on it, every minute along the way.
Taking all of the above into consideration and weighing the original, two-disc release of Hardwired… To Self-Destruct against this deluxe edition, it’s incredibly hard to definitively say “this version is better than that other one.” Really, the best way to look at it is like this: there’s no question that Hardwired… To Self-Destruct should be essential listening, so the purchase of the standard set should at least be the thing which happens for both new and longtime fans alike. If, however, readers have a couple of extra dollars to spend, the variant of the album with an extra disc is worthwhile. In this case, Disc Three is a pretty sweet bauble to have in one’s collection – if buyers have the disposable income for it available to them.
Further Reading: Ground Control Magazine – Metallica – Hardwired… To Self-Destruct [2CD Review]: www.groundcontrolmag.com/metallica-album-2