Released on April 14, 2023 (Blackened)
I have to say that I had very low expectations for Metallica‘s new album 72 Seasons. The bright yellow album cover and weird crib design with various blackened objects did not do anything to increase my low expectations. The reality is that I was extremely disappointed with Metallica‘s previous studio album Hardwired…To Self-Destruct which I just never got into. I can’t even hum you or recognize any of the songs from that album. It just felt like Metallica tried too hard with their songs for that record and ended up with a bunch of mainly forgettable tracks. My expectations for 72 Seasons quickly changed when I heard Metallica‘s first single “Lux Æterna” from that album. The track was really good and reminded me of Reload‘s track “Fuel” as Metallica kept it simple by not overburdening the song with too many sounds. Nevertheless, I was still quite guarded for the rest of the forthcoming tracks on the album. The next single “Screaming Suicide” was another strong track and by that time, I knew that I would be purchasing 72 Seasons sooner rather than later.
If anything, with 72 Seasons, it seems that Metallica have come up with an album filled with songs similar to their best ones of the last 30 years. I am not thinking of the first five classic Metallica records but something along the vein of the faster tracks on 1997’s Reload such as “Fuel” and the stellar “The Day That Never Comes” from 2008’s Death Magnetic. Both those songs are among the best tracks that Metallica have come up with in the last 30 years (in my humble opinion) and the songs on 72 Seasons are in that same vein although not quite as good as those two aforementioned songs.
The tracks on 72 Seasons are also instantly recognizable as Metallica songs which cannot be said for some of their prior albums of the last two decades such as the dismal St. Anger (2003). In addition to Hetfield‘s instantly recognizable voice (in a good way), the drumming on the album is easily identifiable as Lars Ulrich‘s work. Say what you will about Ulrich‘s drumming abilities but I think he’s one of the great drummers out there and the fact that his drumming can actually stand out on songs is quite impressive. The guitar and bass are also solid and not overplayed in that Metallica have elected this time around to focus and centre their songs on various guitar riffs and melodies with some nice harmonies on quite a few tracks. Kirk Hammett truly is an underrated guitarist and the songwriting duo of Hetfield / Ulrich should be considered among the very best in the world.
I am almost shocked to be writing this but there are no weak tracks on 72 Seasons and that’s despite Metallica including 12 songs on the record. It helps that they didn’t include an instrumental on this album. For instance, I think that every track on Death Magnetic is decent to great (only “The Day That Never Comes” falls in that category) except for the rather long and seemingly never ending instrumental “Suicide & Redemption.” I’m not sure what motivated Metallica this time around not to include an instrumental but I’m glad that they didn’t. It’s hard to come up with a really good track when it’s an instrumental and I find that Metallica have missed the mark in that regard since “The Call of Ktulu” off 1984’s Ride The Lightning. Even Metallica‘s longest song ever — the over 11 minute long “Inamorata” — which can be found on 72 Seasons, goes by quickly which speaks to just how good the track is.
My favourite tracks on 72 Seasons — or at least the ones that I tend to notice more than the others while playing the CD — are the title track with its cool chorus section (it’s hard not to sing “Wrath of Man”), “Screaming Suicide” where Metallica take on a tough subject, the speedy and short “Lux Æterna” that could easily be a staple in the group’s setlist for the rest of its career, and the faster paced “Room of Mirrors”. As I previously stated, there are no duds on 72 Seasons and it’s over 75 minutes of solid music from start to scratch. This is easily Metallica‘s most consistent album since their game changing self-titled “black” record (1991). Don’t be surprised if 72 Seasons unexpectedly shows up on the Sleaze Roxx’s Top Ten Albums of 2023 and particularly given the rather mostly forgettable albums released to date this year.
01. 72 Seasons
02. Shadows Follow
03. Screaming Suicide
04. Sleepwalk My Life Away
05. You Must Burn!
06. Lux Æterna
07. Crown of Barbed Wire
08. Chasing Light
09. If Darkness Had A Son
10. Too Far Gone?
11. Room of Mirrors
James Hetfield – lead vocals, guitars
Lars Ulrich – drums
Kirk Hammett – guitars
Rob Trujillo – bass
Produced by Greg Fidelman with James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich
Mixed by Greg Fidelman
Engineered by Jim Monti and Sara Lyn Killion
Additional engineering by Jason Gossman
Editing by Jason Gossman and Dan Monti
Assistant engineering by Kent Matcke
Album production coordination by Kent Matcke
Mastered by Bob Ludwig
Reviewed by Olivier for Sleaze Roxx, July 2023
Metallica‘s “Lux Æterna” video:
Metallica‘s “Screaming Suicide” video:
Metallica‘s “If Darkness Had A Son” video:
Metallica‘s “72 Seasons” video:
Metallica‘s “Shadows Follow” video:
Metallica‘s “Inamorata” lyric video:
Metallica‘s “Sleepwalk My Life Away” video:
Metallica‘s “Room of Mirrors” video:
Metallica‘s “You Must Burn” lyric video:
Metallica‘s “Too Far Gone?” lyric video:
Metallica‘s “Crown of Barbed Wire” lyric video:
Metallica‘s “Chasing Light” lyric video: