METALLICA’s “Moth Into Flame” Riff-By-Riff Analysis


Intro (00:00 – 00:18)

Classic ‘Talica intro, tbh: open low E string ringing out underneath harmonized leads. I like the movement of this riff down the octave in a sorta off-pattern motion. It’s not “progressive” by any means, but it’s a nice little compositional flair.

Verse (00:18 – 1:02)

Dig this riff. Maybe one of the best they’ve written in the post-therapy era. Actually, this riff sounds like they never even went through therapy. Could be on an Iron Reagan album or something. Nice grooves from Lars too! Reminds me of Ringo Starr a bit in terms of where the straight beat falls relative to James’ off-beat vocals.

Pre-Chorus (1:02 – 1:14)

Cool little section, though I wish James would stop writing lyrics like “Light it up!” and “Bulletproof!” Nice variations on a section that they could’ve made super simple.

Pre-Chorus 2 (1:14 – 1:24)

I like the callback to the intro; quick and to the point. This is the sort of section that Death Magnetic or St. Anger-era Metallica would drag out and into the ground. Everything we’ve heard from this upcoming album has been super concise – which is great!

Chorus (1:24 – 1:44)

GREAT chorus tbh. Really well-suited to how James’s voice sounds these days. Reminds me more of Irish folk songs (remember, they covered “Whiskey in a Jar”) than it does metal, or of something off a Misfits record. I bet this would be really sick on a Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater soundtrack.

Let’s Call This One “Riff C” (2:46 – 3:08)

LOVE when James introduces a riff with a grunt or a funny word like “Burn.” This is a great guitar part, and I like that they’re taking the same groove/general riff concept and elaborating, like what a classical composer would do with a new section of a melody.

Pre-Solo/Pre-Wah Pedal (3:08 – 3:18)

Great vocal delivery from James here – love the patterns and almost drummer-like subdivision. Exactly what you want out of a ‘Talica pre-solo section.

Solo/Wah Pedal (3:18 – 4:08)

LONG solo! Wow. This reminds me of Kirk’s playing on …And Justice For All. Nice mixture of wah, repeating melodic figures, and straight up ripping. Kirk gets a lot of hate these days, but this is a solid, totally fulfilling Metallica guitar solo.

Post-Solo/Did Lars Just Nail That Double-Bass Part (4:08 – 4:24)

Did Lars actually freaking nail that double-bass part?

Take Home Thoughts

Nice song! One of the better tunes this band has written in recent years. Tightly constructed from a songwriting perspective, some fresh rhythmic ideas, and perfect execution of what they’re trying to do. It’s rare these days that everything comes together for this band, but every member is firing on equal cylinders on this song. I’m excited to hear the album.

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Max is managing editor of Gear Gods.