On April 14, thrash metal titans Metallica released their highly anticipated eleventh studio album “72 Seasons.” The LP is the band’s first release since 2016’s “Hardwired… to Self-Destruct” and fourth of the 21st Century.
Recording for the album began during the world’s lockdown period in 2020. The band kept the album under wraps before unveiling it last November with an explosive single titled “Lux Aeterna.” Alongside the record announcement, the band also revealed a tour that will take them all across the world over the course of the next year. The band will be opening up the U.S portion of the tour in August with two stops at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, which is their closest stop at the moment.
“72 Seasons” starts off with the opening title track, where we see the band in full swing with a blistering seven minute number that discusses the wrath of man. The chemistry between rhythm guitarist/frontman James Hetfield and lead guitarist Kirk Hammett is undeniable in this track, with the pair sounding tighter than ever throughout the song.
This gives way to “Shadows Follow,” a straight up in your face rocker that figures to be a setlist staple on the upcoming M72 Tour. The third track of the album, “Screaming Suicide,” sees James Hetfield tackling the sensitive subject of suicide and how the word has become “taboo.” Hetfield has been an advocate for mental health prevention, especially in recent years after going through many tough times in his personal life. Despite the song’s dark subject matter, it is a catchy track that features fast paced chugging riffs.
“Sleepwalk My Life Away” is an interesting track. It starts out with bassist Robert Trujillo and drummer Lars Ulrich at the forefront setting the scene for what’s to come. Trujillo is featured much more heavily on this record, with his riffs front and center, a huge change from albums such as “And Justice For All” when the bass was lost in the mix. The song’s build up gives way to a bluesy mid tempo track that wouldn’t sound out of place on Load, the band’s sixth studio album. “You Must Burn!” has a similar sound to “Sad But True,” the second track from the band’s 1991 self-titled album. It continues the record’s dark theme, discussing a protagonist burning his true self. At seven minutes long, the song would benefit from being shortened a bit, but it is still a solid track nonetheless. Rounding out the first half of the album is the anthemic “Lux Aeterna,” which was the first taste of new music from the band in six years. It was the perfect choice for the first single as it is a faced, action paced track that would also fit well as the album opener.
The latter half of the album opens with “Crown of Barbed Wire,” which in my opinion is one of the weaker tracks on the album. The song is saved with a heavy, melodic riff around the three and a half minute mark that catches the ear instantly. “Chasing Light” starts off hot with Hetfield screaming “There’s no light” as the band settles into a high powered rocker that gives glimpses of the band’s debut album Kill Em All. This song along with Inamorata feature Hetfield’s vocals at his best, with this track in particular featuring his powerful signature growl. Track nine of the album “If Darkness Had A Son,” figures to be a great live hit for the band as it features an extensive build up that will undoubtedly have fans banging their heads as they await Hetfield’s vocals. The vocals begin with a fierce “Temptation” refrain that will be sure to get the crowd going and singing along. Like the prior song, it could certainly benefit from being shorter, but who doesn’t love more music?
“Too Far Gone?” is a track that struck me right away during my first test run of the new album. I had the chance to listen to “72 Seasons” in its entirety for the first time at a Metallica listening party event at the Movie Tavern in Exton. This is one of the shorter tracks on the album, which allows little room for filler. It features a catchy chorus and colorful guitar melodies that blend well together. “Room of Mirrors” sounds similar to “Spit out the Bone,” the final track from the band’s last album “Hardwired.” This is not a bad thing as that is a standout track itself. It gives way to the album closer “Inamorata,” which in my opinion is the best track of “72 Seasons.” Clocking in at 11 minutes and ten seconds, Inamorata is the longest original track in Metallica’s discography. Despite this, it actually leaves the listener wanting more. When I first heard the song in theaters, I was shocked that it was over so quickly as I was expecting a song with filler.
“Inamorata” combines elements from “My Friend of Misery,” “Fixxxer” and “Outlaw Torn,” and the song sees the band firing on all cylinders throughout. While some long tracks lose the listener, this track will pull you in right away and hold you through its entirety. As I mentioned earlier, this song features Hetfield as his best. We see him use a variety of different vocal ranges, going from high to low throughout. “Inamorata” was the perfect way for the band to go out and it leaves fans clamoring for more music.
Expectations were high for the new album as Metallica fans are often difficult to please. No matter what the band puts out, you will always see a number of fans who want to hear another “Master of Puppets” or “Ride the Lightning.” If you are expecting a sequel to one of those albums, you will be disappointed. While “72 Seasons” doesn’t live up to the hype of the band’s first four albums, it is certainly a very strong collection of songs that will have you headbanging and rocking out for years to come. With that being said, I would consider it the band’s finest work since the 1991 self-titled “Metallica” and would rank it just behind the first five albums as my sixth favorite record.
My rating: 8.8/10
Erick Klambara is a fourth Year MDC Major with a minor in Journalism.