*DISCLAIMER: The majority of listening to 72 Seasons by Metallica for review was done between 11:30 PM-3:30 AM and 8:00 AM-12:30 PM on a road trip to and from Las Vegas, Nevada.
Anytime a new Metallica album comes out, it’s best to take whatever state of mind you’re currently in, throw it in the trash, and go back to the past. Wherever you are in life, go to that time when there wasn’t a care in the world, and you first heard Kill ‘Em All, Ride the Lightning, Master of Puppets, …And Justice For All, or whatever Metallica album you started off with. It’s easy to be jaded and scream into the abyss that “Metallica died with …And Justice For All!“. Except you’d be robbing yourself of some excellent later career music from the band.
You’d also be robbing yourself of what’s likely the best album Metallica has made since those classic four. 72 Seasons brings the thunder and fury of any classic Metallica album out there, with a new edge, a new wrinkle, and an epic-length runtime. To get into the proper frame of mind for listening to a Metallica album though, you need context. This isn’t the same Metallica as our youth. The days of being 14 and thrashing around in a dark room of an empty “for sale” house with your buddies is long gone (this actually happened, believe me).
The key is right there in the title of the album, 72 Seasons. That’s the first 18 years of your life, the most formative, arguably, for anyone out there. It’s when you learn about yourself, meet your friends and form memories. Metallica is harkening back to that age range with this album. It’s a mix of thrashing, Load/reLoad era groove and a culmination of decades of work at their craft.
1. 72 Seasons (Hetfield, Ulrich, Hammett) 7:39
For the folks out there that ascribe to the idiotic belief that Metallica hasn’t done anything good since those first four albums, here is your salvation. Hop back on, because ’72 Seasons’ absolutely rips. Is it blistering? Yes. Does it feel like classic Metallica? Yes. So what else do you need to hear from me? Go check the song out.
Combine all that thrashing power with a chorus that is begging to be belted out by 60,000 fans at a stadium somewhere, and you’ve got the best Metallica opener in a long time. The song brings out those emotions and feelings of the first 18 years of anyone’s life. There are fast, hectic, angry sections, they give you some time to breathe, and then it’s back to the thrash once again.
For the thrashards out there, ’72 Seasons’ is an absolute feast.
2. Shadows Follow (Hetfield, Ulrich) 6:12
Now that we’ve got your attention back into the Metallica fold, let me introduce you to the new blend of current-era Metallica and the Load/reLoad era of the band. ‘Shadows Follow’ is a pretty straightforward track about those demons, feelings, and traumas of the past following you through life. The entire album feels like a James Hetfield therapy session with his demons coming out.
‘Shadows Follow’ is groovy, heavy, and doesn’t feel like a 6-minute track. It comes and goes with some excellent lines from Hetfield and thunderous drums from Lars Ulrich. A great follow-up to the opening track.
3. Screaming Suicide (Hetfield, Ulrich, Trujillo) 5:30
Get ready to look into the mirror and face some darkness. ‘Screaming Suicide’ is all about that taboo word. It’s not healthy to keep feelings like that inside, you’re not alone in this.
As for the track, it’s a modern-sounding “classic” Metallica track. It sounds like a more basic version of what they’ve put out in the past couple of albums. That chorus and breakdown near the halfway point of the track is absolutely magnificent and begging for people to headbang to. Once again, James Hetfield knocks the vocals out of the park. Kirk Hammett gets an extended solo that stretches on and on but fits with the track.
4. Sleepwalk My Life Away (Hetfield, Ulrich, Trujillo) 6:56
Metallica gets extra groovy on ‘Sleepwalk My Life Away’ and starts off with really sounds like something from an industrial band in the 90s. Don’t worry though, because they get back to that groove throughout the rest of the track. The track is all about being stuck in that rut where it seems like every day is the same. Except for this time, you need to wake up from sleepwalking.
This isn’t my favorite track on the album, I’m not a gargantuan fan of the sort of groove metal styling, but it’s not a bad one either.
5. You Must Burn (Hetfield, Ulrich, Trujillo) 7:03
Talk about some heavy riffs. ‘You Must Burn’ brings on some more of that groovy, chugging style for Metallica. If you like ‘Sad But True’, this is in that same vein. It also feels a lot like the heaviest portions of Load/reLoad. Think ‘The House That Jack Built’. Just wait until you get to the breakdown at around 3:35 on the song. If you’re into headbanging along with the groove, that’s about as heavy as it gets. Kirk Hammett’s solo just builds from there until you reach the shredding conclusion with some excellent lead work.
The influence of Robert Trujillo on this album isn’t lost, he has a backup vocal credit on this track, and it sounds like his bass is really turned up on this record.
6. Lux Æterna (Hetfield, Ulrich) 3:26
This was the lead single to the album when it was first announced, and damn, this is absolute fury in about 3 minutes of track time. It comes at the perfect time on the tracklist as well. Just when you’re bogged down a bit with some really heavy songs you get the break to just let it rip with ‘Lux Æterna’. If you’re looking at it from the phase of the album, this is when you’re 9 years old, and there isn’t a care in the world. It goes by fast, so try to enjoy everything.
It has probably the best chorus on the album and two insane guitar solos from Kirk Hammett. This is the most ‘classic’ Metallica-sounding track on the album.
7. Crown Of Barbed Wire (Hetfield, Ulrich, Hammett) 5:49
From all the listens I did over the weekend on a seemingly endless road trip to and from Las Vegas, the one track that particularly stood out for me was ‘Crown Of Barbed Wire’. It combines elements across Metallica’s career with the groovy riffs, thrash-style solos, and James Hetfield’s soul being bared for all to hear on the chorus. The way he twists the word ‘wire’ on the chorus is just on another level. The riffs over the chorus and pre-chorus are stunning.
It’s in the running for my favorite track on the record.
8. Chasing Light (Hetfield, Ulrich, Hammett) 6:45
Here’s a track that sounds like it would fit perfectly on Death Magnetic, down to the phaser-sounding guitars at the beginning. For an album about struggle, darkness, and other somewhat depressing subject matter, ‘Chasing Light’ comes in to bring anyone back up with some fury. It also combines some of the childhood trauma that the title of the album describes. Everyone out there has rough patches during childhood or adolescence. Without the bad times, there aren’t good times.
9. If Darkness Had A Son (Hetfield, Ulrich, Hammett) 6:36
This was the last of the singles released for the album and like a good portion of these tracks, they’re harkening back to a previous era of Metallica. This time around, for fans of ‘The Thing That Should Not Be’ from Master of Puppets, this feels incredibly similar. It’s heavy, James Hetfield absolutely slays the chorus, and even if the solo is a bit-Kirk Hammett-generic, it still kicks plenty of ass.
As this one builds to the finale, the fury and emotion in James Hetfield’s voice is apparent. Another great, mid-tempo track.
10. Too Far Gone? (Hetfield, Ulrich) 4:34
‘Too Far Gone?’ isn’t the thrashiest song on the album, that would still go to ’72 Seasons’, but it does feel the most like a track that would fit on their first album, Kill ‘Em All. It has the same guitar harmonies and killer vocal lines, but gives James Hetfield some more room to soar with his voice that we don’t normally see. The lyrics for this one really hit home, and it’s just plain and simple Metallica. If you can’t like this track, I don’t get why you’re a Metallica fan.
11. Room Of Mirrors (Hetfield, Ulrich) 5:34
‘Room Of Mirrors’ is about introspection, but it’s also about drowning out the outside world. For all the problems you have, they might be exacerbated by outside people. It’s best to just let that stuff slide or tune it out. This track has my favorite moment on the entire record with the harmonized solos at around 3:38. It brings a smile to my face to see that while Metallica might lead the thrash metal genre, they’re still New Wave Of British Heavy Metal and Thin Lizzy fans at the end of the day. This is Lars Ulrich’s best performance on the record. His drums are on point.
Also, I dare you to tell me that the riffage at the end of this song isn’t headbanging goodness.
12. Inamorata (Hetfield, Ulrich) 11:10
Looks like Metallica took a page out of Iron Maiden’s book off Senjutsu. They decided to plop the best, most epic track on the record at the very end. ‘Inamorata’ is Metallica’s longest song ever. However, especially when listening to this track at around 2:20 AM on the road to Las Vegas, it doesn’t feel that long. It’s like when you’re driving, and you forget that 10 minutes have passed you by and you’re somehow already at the state line between California and Nevada.
It has that floaty, dreamy quality that Metallica taps into every once in a while. It’s those 70s metal and rock influences on the band that continue to shine through, no matter how much some section of the fandom wants them to just make Master of Puppets 2.0. It’s the most mature, complex, and best track on the album.
Final Thoughts On 72 Seasons
I’ll finish with this. Metallica has crafted their most mature and personal album in their long and illustrious history with 72 Seasons. They lay bare the emotions and feelings that we all have felt through over four decades with this band. At points, they tap into that thrashy style that we all grew up with, but they also move the band forward with some deeper grooves and a focus on the driving basslines and drums from Robert Trujillo and Lars Ulrich.
For everyone out there, I’ll expect an apology for hating on Load and reLoad for so long. This album sounds like the next evolution of that style that brings together everything we love about Metallica. 72 Seasons grabs you right from the get-go with an energetic opening trio, but it really hits home with some personal lyrics and riffs as you go on. Listening on repeat might not be for everyone, but it really works well as you go from ’72 Seasons’ through ‘Inamorata’ and then back again.
It takes a few listens to really get to the sweet spot, but once you hit it, 72 Seasons rewards you with much more than the average metal album.
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