72 Seasons


Blackened, 2023


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Forty years since the first notes of Kill ‘Em All faded in from our speakers, the question has to be: Does Metallica have anything left to prove?

They have, after all, been among the “Big 4” bands – a list which, honestly, is a misnomer – who helped put thrash metal on the scene. They survived the tragic death of bassist Cliff Burton, only to put out their most commercially successful material (and, in all honesty, alienate some of their earliest fans in the process). They survived the lean years of the metal scene, and they’ve had their missteps. But with their two previous studio efforts, James Hetfield and crew showed that Metallica was still a force to be dealt with – even if that process included some less than stellar material.

All of this leads us to 72 Seasons, Metallica’s first album in seven years. They could have easily set their musical efforts on cruise control, and tried to put out an album that mimicked much of their previous work – but that would more than likely not ended well. Instead, they dug deep into themselves, crafting 12 songs that defied radio airplay and conventional wisdom – and, in the end, created an album with precious little filler.

Gone is any sense of pop sensibility that might have been found on Metallica, Load or my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Reload (even if the first single “Lux Aeterna” was three-and-a-half minutes of the listener getting their brains assaulted). In its place are songs that both capitalize on the stylings of previous efforts and carve out their own unique niches in Metallica’s discography.

For the first half of the album, Metallica can do absolutely no wrong. From the opening riffs of the title track, Metallica is on a mission – though one would be hard-pressed to say the disc follows the concept Hetfield threw out there of the first 18 years of a person’s life shaping who they were to become. If anything, one could say the songs are the resulting effects felt by the individual, not necessarily the individual actions that shaped them.

Tracks such as “Sleepwalk My Life Away,” “You Must Burn!” and “Screaming Suicide” keep the momentum going – and it is interesting to note that bassist Robert Trujillo shares songwriting credits on all three of these tracks, which are among the strongest on the disc. It is interesting to note that when “Screaming Suicide” was released as a single, I have to admit I was less than impressed. When heard in the context of the entire disc, though, my attitude towards it did a complete 180 flip.

This isn’t to say that everything on 72 Seasons is stellar. “Crown Of Barbed Wire” is the weakest link in the entire album chain; while not a terrible song by any means, it just feels like it was underdeveloped lyrically. And while I like “If Darkness Had A Son,” the opening drum line nearly spoils the whole song. That doesn't make these bad tracks, mind you - hell, on some of the weaker Metallica albums, these would have been the songs whose praise we all would be singing.

Everything leads up to “Inamorata,” the longest song Metallica has released in their career – and one whose 11 minutes seems to fly by. Taking more than a small hint from such bands as Monster Magnet with the opening groove turns out to be a complete breath of fresh air for the band. Yes, they’ve occasionally had a bit of a groove to their sound – check out “Sad But True” off Metallica as an example. But this one locks the listener in from the get-go, and when it finally comes to its conclusion, you’ll find yourself shocked that so much time passed as quickly as it did.

When you have an album where even the “bad” tracks have more redeeming qualities than negative ones, then you know you’ve done something good. In the case of 72 Seasons, this is easily Metallica’s best album in a long time.

Rating: A-

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© 2023 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Blackened, and is used for informational purposes only.