Metallica, 72 Seasons review: A return to form that shows their old machine is still firing on all cylinders

Metallica 72 Seasons

“Traumatic! Volcanic! Psychotic! Demonic! Hypnotic!” So goes the rhyme scheme of Metallica 72 Seasons title tune. They’re obviously not aiming for subtlety. They’ve previously irritated fans by attempting to tone down their last two recordings, but as they approach their sixties, the band returns to the thoroughly captivating thrash metal with which they built their reputation. And, to be honest, no band in the globe is better at writing and executing huge songs that head hugger-mugger towards the horizon in a way that makes listeners feel like they’re hugging the curves and swerving the spills of a Formula One racetrack when they’re on form. Songs don’t follow formulas; they merely rip down the straights and weave wildly through the turns as they arrive. Lars Ulrich’s unrelenting riff-making and James Hetfield’s screaming exaggeration lock into each other like a hammer on a nail.


The band recently embraced their age in interviews. They cracked jokes about the new generation of kids who found them after Netflix’s hit series Stranger Things featured their 1986 song “Master of Puppets” last year (it soared to the top of the iTunes rock chart and got 17.5 million streams). They said the kids had no clue how old and worn-out they are.

72 Seasons: A Dark and Heavy Journey Through Childhood and Beyond

The lyrics on 72 Seasons, like Stranger Things, supercharge a mix of gloomy reminiscence and contemporary dread. No ballads. Grimy gears intertwine for 77 minutes. Hetfield, freshly divorced and back from rehab for the second time, says a book about childhood inspired the title. He says the 72 seasons are “the first 18 years of your life.” He asks, “How do you evolve, grow, mature, and develop your own ideas and self-identity after the first 72 seasons?”

So, on the track “If Darkness Had a Son,” Hetfield tells wannabe goths to “paint your eyes as black as sorrow/ hide yourself behind tomorrow.” He boasts about having “all the children subjugated” from his stage’s dark altar, riding the power chords and squalling leads. He faces his own addiction troubles with the repeated line: “I bathe in holy water/ Temptation leave me be.” (The BBC found out earlier this month that the band now prefers Earl Grey tea “with a little hint of vanilla… yummy” over vodka as their “holy water.”)

On the speedier “Lux Aeterna,” Hetfield extols the communion of the live show as “sonic salvation!” and exhorts the devout to “cast out the demons that strangle your life!” Meanwhile, on the headbanger “Screaming Suicide,” the vocalist ditches the combat fantasy imagery in favor of straightforward therapy jargon as he unpacks the implications of internalized blame. The album finishes with the 11-minute, Black Sabbath-inspired monster track “Inamorata” (Metallica’s longest song to date). Melodies ooze murkily from the depths of bassist Robert Trujillo. And there’s a glimmer of poetic optimism in the midst of the doom.

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