James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett and Robert Trujillo are coming into gray hairs as gracefully and loudly as members of a metal band entering their 50s can. Since 2008's Death Magnetic, Metallica has collaborated with Lou Reed on the (generally) reviled Lulu, started a music festival and released Through The Never, a surprisingly thoughtful concert film that creatively wove the band's themes and stories through an action narrative. In other words, Metallica hasn't slowed down. Still, the first two singles from the forthcoming double album Hardwired... to Self-Destruct do sound like a Metallica rejuvenated, or at least revisited.
Following the straight-ahead "Hardwired," this performance video of "Moth Into Flame" recalls the melodic, lead-foot-riff-fueled, progressive attack of ...And Justice For All. Hetfield has really come into his voice as an older man: The grizzle's still there in his raspy howl, yet the conventional singing that defined and changed '90s Metallica has now aged like a smoked barrel. For the first time in a long time, Kirk Hammett gets to be Kirk Hammett here, with an extended wah-wah shred that not only justifies the six-minute running time but also gives the track real weight. As with anything the band has released in the past two decades, there's some rightful trepidation around Hardwired — but damned if "Moth Into Flame" isn't just solid Metallica.
Hardwired... to Self-Destruct comes out Nov. 18 on Blackened.