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Less than three weeks before Metallica release their first album in eight years, Hardwired... To Self Destruct, the band has released the third track, "Atlas, Rise!"

Typically, Metallica throws a curve ball on the third songs. "Atlas, Rise!" follows in the footsteps of esteemed texts such as the anthemic and stomping "For Whom the Bell Tolls" and the creeping twists of "The Thing that Should not Be". Here, though, they chose a straight pitch down the middle. "Atlas, Rise!" shares the big chorus focus of "For Whom the Bell Tolls", but its biggest touchstone came more recently.

"Atlas, Rise!" is almost too-similar to its immediate predecessor, "Moth to the Flame", but that song's the best thing they've done since, depending on who you are, The Black Album or And Justice For All (or, um, if you're me, Load). Therefore, no complaints.

The vocal harmonies that pushed "Moth to the Flame" over the edge into excellent territory persist here in a diminished capacity, but they're joined by excellent guitar harmonies especially around the three-minute mark. Metallica's used this kind of paired harmony before, but sparingly. In fact, they pushed it to the fore most in "That Was Just Your Life", the opening track from their previous album, Death Magnetic. For my money, the first two tracks from that album were, until now, the closest thing Hetfield, Ulrich and Co. ever came to a return-to-form in large part because of that kind of melodic classicism. That they're retaining it puts a big grin on my face. I'm sitting at my office desk bouncing up and down like a toddler.

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Hardwired... To Self Destruct is out on November 18th. By all current indicators, it will actually be pretty fucking good. You may disagree. Let's discuss in the comments.

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