The fan and critical response to Metallica's long-awaited Hardwired... To Self-Destruct has been overwhelmingly positive as listeners devoured the first single, "Hardwired," digesting "Moth Into Flame" and "Atlas, Rise!" next. The thrashers then unrolled music videos for all 12 songs prior to the release, pleasantly surprising fans, and the response is something that hasn't been lost on James Hetfield.

"I'm so surprised that this album is getting such a positive response and people are needing it," he told The Straits Times in a recent interview, continuing, "It feels good to make a record that people are embracing as a new, viable album that they will have in their musical quiver."

It's not easy being in the biggest metal band in the world as all your work is put under a microscope and dissected (and eviscerated, at times) by fans. Metallica have experienced their share of misses (St. Anger, the Through the Never film, the collaborative effort with Lou Reed that resulted in Lulu and the financial disaster of the Orion Music + More festivals), but rebounded remarkably with their latest album.

Speaking to how the band got back on track, Hetfield said, "I don't want to figure it out. What we have to offer is honesty and we love what we do. We're writing songs we want to hear and that's important. We're not trying to recreate something that worked before or try a different genre or do some other crazy thing that's not us."

The digital age also presents a myriad of challenges as more music is accessible than ever, leading to endless teaser trailers, in-studio footage, advanced streams and a lot more. Ultimately, it has become increasingly difficult to genuinely surprise a more than suspecting audience, but Metallica pulled it off with their 12 music video rollout.

"The mystique and the surprise creates a different kind of excitement and energy," said Hetfield. "And I still search for that when we're releasing a new record. The joy now is that there is no one way to do it, there are multiple ways to get your music out — you just need to get creative with it."

Metallica are in the midst of their "WorldWired" global tour, releasing small batches of stops at a time. Each show has become a bit more sacred as Hetfield revealed earlier this year that the band will be dialing back their touring regimen, playing roughly 50 shows a year as his body is unable to endure the extensive touring of old.

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