James Hetfield spoke to Revolver magazine about where METALLICA's latest album, "Hardwired… To Self-Destruct", fits in with what the band has done in the past. He said: "It's documenting exactly where we are right now. I don't want to compare it to previous stuff — that stuff is what it is, and this stuff is what it is." But, he added, "maybe the initial intention was 'simplicity' — I wanted more simplicity, so I kept saying, [METALLICA's debut album, 1983's] 'Kill 'Em All'. The Black Album  is more simple than some of the others, song-wise; but the production of that record is quite complex and really layered. I wanted the new one to have a little more layers than 'Death Magnetic' , but I also wanted it to be more simple — and I wanted it to be more palatable to the ear. I think 'Death Magnetic' is very, very powerful, and I love it, but it abuses the ear quite a bit. This record sounds loud and powerful, but in a warmer way."
Much of the credit for "Hardwired… To Self-Destruct"'s beefier sound goes to producer Greg Fidelman, who previously engineered "Death Magnetic" (produced by Rick Rubin) and co-produced 2011's "Lulu" (METALLICA's controversial collaboration with Lou Reed). The band recorded the effort at its headquarters, a building owned by METALLICA in San Rafael, just north of San Francisco.
"Since Greg walked into our lives in 2007, he's been on every project — 'Death Magnetic', 'Through the Never' [the band's 2013 concert film], the DEEP PURPLE, RAINBOW and IRON MAIDEN covers we did, the Lou Reed record," METALLICA drummer Lars Ulrich explained to Revolver. "So I think by the time that Rick [Rubin] was not, uh, involved, he maybe felt a little freer to make METALLICA sound the way that he felt it should sound."
"We really enjoyed his sonics and the approach he had on the movie," Hetfield added. "The 'Through The Never' stuff sounds really, really warm and powerful, so it's easy to turn up. That's what we were going for this time, and Greg stepped up…
"I've gotta give him credit, because it's not easy to hang out with us," Hetfield laughed. "It can be pretty rough jumping into the mix between Lars and I. He did a good job of being the swing vote, or the referee, or whatever you want to call it. I mean, this guy is pretty mellow, and he's able to get his opinion across without being a dick about it. Not that you have to totally walk on eggshells around us, but I think Lars and I backed off quite a bit. There was a lot less… I wouldn't say arguments, but disagreements on how things should go, because we really trusted him."
"Hardwired… To Self-Destruct" debuted at No. 1 on The Billboard 200 album chart, selling 291,000 copies in its first week of release. The effort consists of two discs, containing a dozen songs and nearly 80 minutes of music.
The deluxe version of "Hardwired… To Self-Destruct" also features a live set recorded at Rasputin's in Berkeley, California on Record Store Day 2016 and a concert version of the song "Hardwired" recorded at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.