Metallica New Album Released, Hetfield Reflects On Substance Abuse

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Metallica New Album Released, Hetfield Reflects On Substance Abuse

Metallica’s first new full-length studio album in 8 years was released on November 18th, earning the third biggest opening week in 2016. The album, Hardwired…to Self-Destruct is garnering mostly positive reviews. The rock magazine Kerrang! Called it “Metallica galvanised, refreshed, refocused and rediscovering themselves. Best thing they’ve done since The Black album? Yep.”

Lead singer James Hetfield has been very public about his battle with alcoholism, and has reflected on his struggles and recovery a number of times. Once upon a time, Metallica, like many bands in their genre, was infamous for partying hardcore. In the 80’s – they even earned the nickname “Alcoholica.”

In 2009, Hetfield told Guitar World that in 2003, he had a “major crash—my wife [threw] me out of the house. My wife said, ‘You’re not coming back until you sort this out and get some therapy.’” At this time, Hetfield knew that he risked losing his band and his family:

“Both of them at the same time. So that was it. I thought, I’ve got to get it together or they’re both going to go away.”

Growing up, Hetfield felt withdrawn in the midst of a conservative religious family. “The drinking helped me break out of that a little bit, but at the end of the day it was worse. I’d dug a deeper hole for myself.”

Most recently Hetfield told the Wall Street Journal:

“I have an addictive personality, so when I act impulsively it can go very wrong. In the band’s early days, we didn’t think at all—we lived in the moment. Usually that involved drinking or drugs or women. We destroyed our health on the road, until we realized that we couldn’t play anymore, that I couldn’t perform the way I wanted.”

“I’ve learned that self-awareness is important, as is the ability to think impulsive ideas through to their natural conclusion. Now I’m spontaneous rather than impulsive, especially when I’m writing music or playing the guitar.”

Drummer Lars Ulrich, another Metallica member, talked to Rolling Stone in a recent interview:

“Our M.O. at that time was just to have the blinders on. We drank our way through pretty much any obstacles … You learn as you grow older. Age and experience just knock on the door at some point and you go, ‘OK, I don’t want to wake up or pass out in that situation again.’ I’m lucky in that I don’t have an addictive personality. I still drink—I don’t indulge in anything else—but I made the conscious decision to stop whatever else I was doing.”


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