Metallica released “Atlas, Rise!” today. It is the best Metallica song since “Moth Into Flame”, the band’s previous single. That’s something I never expected to write about Metallica ever again. But, hey, we’re here.

So, ‘Hardwired’ seems like it’s going to be a success, even if the only definable reason is that the bar is super low. After all, Metallica has been releasing irredeemable garbage for nearly 25 years. And yet, it has survived. That’s something. I tried to think of an analog in music, but few felt like a fit. Because, even through Metallica has been horrible for a long, long time, its album sales never really waned following the expected decline from ‘Metallica’ — one of the best selling albums of all time — to ‘Load.’ Pop quiz: Minus ‘Lulu’, which is only an album if used toilet paper is a book, do you know which studio album from ‘Load’ to ‘Death Magnetic’ did NOT reach the number one spot on the charts? Trick question, they all did.

That just doesn’t happen in music. Again, no analogs. Either a slumping artist/band’s fallow period is too short or the sales crashed. However, it seems like Metallica has really achieved a unique thing: it sucked and still made beaucoup bucks in a shrinking market. Needless to say, in all of entertainment, there aren’t many comparisons. Well, except one:

METALLICA IS THE STAR WARS FRANCHISE.

YEP.

*‘Kill ‘em All’ through ‘Master of Puppets’ = ‘A New Hope’ and ‘The Empire Strikes Back’*
Genre-expanding and -transcending masterpieces that have the greatest resonance when you experience them as a pre-teen/teen.

*‘Reign in Blood’ = ‘Aliens’*
Cleared the high bar because it’s meaner.

*Cliff = Irvin Kershner*
R.I.P. Cliff. I know you wouldn’t have made ‘Never Say Never Again.’ 😦

*‘…And Justice for All’ and ‘Black Album’ = ‘Return of the Jedi’*
Scattered great moments that ultimately, unlike the predecessors, don’t congeal into a greater whole.

*‘Load’ through ‘St. Anger’ = The Prequels*
Inexplicably awful, legacy-tarnishing material that seemed like it was created for a completely different audience. Somehow, all of this junk made a ton of cash.

*‘S&M’ = Special Edition movies*
Dollar drunk.

*Meshuggah = Expanded Universe*
Initially indebted to the source material, morphed into something different in a good way.

*‘Lulu’ = George Lucas post ‘Last Crusade’*
Troll job that might end up being a fantastic commentary on each respective field of art.

*‘Death Magnetic’ = ‘The Force Awakens’*
Heralded as a return-to-form. Not really. Tried to make good on the past but largely failed because of unwillingness to offend. Still, after many years, there are bright spots (Thrash riffs! Non-white/male leads!). Could be better if more interesting elements were emphasized (Thrash riffs! Poe Dameron is a gay icon!).

*’Hardwired’ = ‘Rogue One’*
Seems EXTREMELY promising, but may be a bummer until the director’s cut (that is, what existed before studio/Lars meddling) hits the shelves in 10 years.

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