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2.62 | 19 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 2023

Filed under Heavy Metal


1. 72 Seasons (7:39)
2. Shadows Follow (6:12)
3. Screaming Suicide (5:30)
4. Sleepwalk My Life Away (6:56)
5. You Must Burn! (7:03)
6. Lux Æterna (3:22)
7. Crown of Barbed Wire (5:49)
8. Chasing Light (6:45)
9. If Darkness Had a Son (6:36)
10. Too Far Gone? (4:34)
11. Room of Mirrors (5:34)
12. Inamorata (11:10)

Total Time 77:10


- James Hetfield / guitars, vocals
- Kirk Hammett / guitars
- Robert Trujillo / bass, backing vocals
- Lars Ulrich / drums

About this release

Studio album
Blackened Recordings
April 14, 2023

Available on CD, 2LP and digitally.

Thanks to Pekka for the addition and Vim Fuego for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

"72 Seasons" is the eleventh full-length studio album by US heavy/thrash metal act Metallica (not counting "Lulu (2011)", which is a collaboration album with Lou Reed, and therefore shouldn´t be considered a Metallica album). The album was released through Blackened Recordings in April 2023. It´s the successor to "Hardwired... to Self-Destruct" from November 2016.

Stylistically Metallica pretty much continue the heavy metal style of "Hardwired... to Self-Destruct", although they also add the occasional thrash/speed metal part to their music. The music is centered around heavy hard rocking riffs and rhythms, Kirk Hammet´s wha-wha effect laden blues rock influenced guitar solos, and James Hetfield´s distinct sounding commanding vocals. It´s the sound of a Metallica with nothing to prove and completely at ease with what they´re doing. There´s a mature confidence in the way the songs are constructed and the way they are performed, only a seasoned act like Metallica can produce. That unfortunately also means that some tracks are a bit too safe and predictable, and could rightly be called filler material, but "72 Seasons" is predominantly a good quality release.

Featuring 77:10 minutes of music "72 Seasons" is a very long album, and had the most unremarkable material been cut, it would arguably have made for a more intense and consistent quality release. Highlights include the opening title tracks, first single "Lux Æterna", and the closing 11:10 minutes long stoner metal/doom metal influenced "Inamorata". The latter is probably the only song on the album, where Metallica try something a bit different and I´d say it´s THE standout track on the album.

"72 Seasons" features a sound production which is powerful, organic, and detailed. It´s a sound production, which suits the material well and again it´s a feature of "72 Seasons", which is relatively similar to how "Hardwired... to Self-Destruct" sounded. Compared to some of their most successful releases from the 90s, the sound production on "72 Seasons" is more stripped-down, simple, and organic. It works relatively well on most of the material, but the slightly faster tracks could have prospered from a more sharp sounding production.

Upon conclusion Metallica have created another good quality late career release (like they´ve done a few times post-2000). It won´t surprise you, and it won´t dethrone your favorites from the 80s/90s, but it´s a release which shows that Metallica still have a little fuel left in the tank. As mentioned above I think it would have been a stronger release, had some of the fat been trimmed and the playing time been shorter, but I´m sure the hardcore fans won´t complain. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.
Vim Fuego
Art is subjective. One person’s Mona Lisa is another person’s 500-year-old moody Italian moaner. And the value of art is what someone is willing to pay for it, whether the cost be tangible like money or trade, or something more abstract, like time and attention. Over the years I, like many other fans, have expended a huge amount on Metallica’s art, because I really enjoyed what they were creating.

On my shelf right now there are 25 Metallica CDs, at least eight of which are replacements for wobbly and worn cassettes. There are also three tribute albums. There is a box set in an imitation road case which contains three VHS video tapes and two CDs, along with some other paraphernalia, and is the single largest album release I have ever bought. I have owned at least four other VHS videos, and also have two DVDs. There is a PlayStation 2 game alongside the DVDs. Also on the shelf there are three volumes of Metallica biographies, or perhaps four if you want to count Dave Mustaine’s book. I have owned at least six Metallica t-shirts, along with assorted other bits and pieces like patches, pendants, coffee mugs, and keyrings. I have dozens upon dozens of metal magazines which feature Metallica. The only time I have ever climbed on a plane to see a band was to see Metallica in 1998, going into debt at a time when I was only partially employed. And these are mostly just the material things. Calculate a guess at the time and attention, and then double your estimation and you might arrive at a more accurate figure.

The biggest problem with writing a review is that it means listening to “72 Seasons” again, and it just seems like a chore.

The title track is a good start, but these days there always seems to be something wrong with even the most promising Metallica songs. On this track it feels too clean. It’s like the sharp edges which used to make Metallica such a thrilling band to listen to have been filed off or wrapped in thick over-produced foam rubber.

And then onto “Shadows Follow”. And it sounds exactly the same – same tempo, same “Load/ReLoad” rehashed riffs, same fat, fuzzy, friendly tones. These songs are neutered golden retrievers curled up at your feet wanting a pat, where once they would have been rabid snapping mongrels threatening to rip your throat out.

“Screaming Suicide” brings in Kirk’s famed wah pedal as an attempt at adding some colour, but once again it sounds recycled, and is safe paint-by-numbers metal.

“Sleepwalk My Life Away” and “You Must Burn!” are thoroughly unremarkable, and suffer greatly from sounding too similar. This is utter mediocrity. There is nothing risky or adventurous here at all. There’s no chance of a hurdy gurdy a la “Low Man’s Lyric”. Marianne Faithful isn’t going to pop up to mournfully wail that no one cares about her any more. Fuck, there’s not even any chance of a crusty old man like Lou Reed channelling a teenage girl in the weirdest and creepiest way possible, and not just because Reed is dead. Even an annoying pinging snare drum from 2003 would add a shadow of something interesting here.

“Lux Æterna” has been cited as a return to the thrash metal days of old. Yes, it’s played at a higher tempo than the rest of the album, and is easily the shortest song on the album. It’s got a scream-along refrain which would probably go off in a live situation. However, cast a critical eye over it and see where it would have fitted in Metallica’s back catalogue and you’ll spot the problem. It’s not replacing any song anywhere on the first four albums. The style wouldn’t have suited any of the 90s albums. It might have squeezed in a spot somewhere on “St. Anger”, but it’s not making the cut for “Death Magnetic”, unless it’s a Japan-only bonus track or a B-side. See the problem? It only seems like a late model thrash Ferrari because it’s surrounded by so many characterless Toyota Corollas.

“If Darkness Had A Son” has an interesting enough groove, but being merely interesting means it’s ultimately forgettable and disposable like most of this album. Besides, Rob Halford and Fight were being far more inventive and edgy with this style of groove back in 1993.

The final track “Inamorata” (a female lover, in case you were wondering about the word’s meaning) is a microcosm of the whole album - it’s too long and would have benefitted greatly from some critical editing, it’s all been done better before, and it’s just too safe and lacking in inspiration to remain memorable or vital.

Remember the first time you were struck by the violence of “Battery” followed by the pummelling of “Master of Puppets”. Remember laughing out loud at the audacity of the “Anaesthesia (Pulling Teeth)” bass solo, which then segued into the breakneck “Whiplash”. Remember the tingle up your spine the first time you heard “Creeping Death’s” ‘die, die, die’ chant. Remember the aural assault when “Dyer’s Eve” first blasted in at the end of “To Live Is To Die”. These were the moments which made Metallica such an amazing band, and these moments created lifetime fans. Keep a firm hold of those memories, because there is not even the slightest spark on “72 Seasons” to ignite a life-long flame of fandom.

I’m no longer interested in expending anything on new music from Metallica, either concrete or ethereal. Millions still will, and that’s their choice, but this art no longer holds any value to me.
I am almost reticent to review Metallica albums. No other band is as singularly important to the genre’s fans, but nor is any so polarising. It is hard to find many honest, thought out and truthful reviews of the band, amidst the tide of “they can do no wrong, they are gods,” “this is the best album since 1990,” “they used to be good but they’ve sucked since they cut their hair” and “they are the worst band ever, so overrated, this is the worst garbage ever.”

Even the most respected and intelligent reviewers, both in print and online, seem to get bogged down in the same Metallica review tropes over and over again - and I don’t know about you, but I am getting very put off by the endless discussion of eyeliner in the '90s, trashcan snare-drum sound and no-solos on St. Anger, dodgy mixing/mastering on Death Magnetic, calling Lou Reed “Grandpa Simpson” on Lulu, jokes about money/wah-wah pedals/Napster, calling Lars and Kirk bad at their instruments and basically all the same repetitive insults being brought up every time Metallica does anything at all. Don’t get me wrong, everyone is entitled to their opinion and I think it is absolutely 100% fair to say that they’ve struggled to have a good production sound over the years, that their albums are usually too long for the relative amount of ideas, and they have made some questionable creative decisions that not all of the core fanbase approve of. But the sheer volume and extensive hyperbole blowing things so far out of proportion is getting so tiring that reading about Metallica has become a rather unpleasant experience over the years.

So that all being said and out of the way… 72 Seasons is the new Metallica album from 2023, their eleventh canonical studio album, third with Rob Trujillo on bass, third with Greg Fidelman involved in the production, and second on Blackened Recordings. It is neither their best album, their worst album, or anything else particular useful for a good soundbite. It has its strengths and its weaknesses. The hardest part about listening to, or trying to appreciate, or be objective about any Metallica album since 1990 is the uncanny valley in your own mind between the album you think they should have made, versus the album they actually chose to make, and all the seemingly wasted potential that this thought process highlights.

There are many positives to this album - lots of great little bits that will make you smile, a few songs many fans would probably like to see in the live set, and some strong guitar solos. Even the lyrics seem a little bit improved. However, it is not without some faults. As stated above, it will be no surprise to learn that the album also features a lot of the same flaws as every Metallica album since St. Anger, in as much as the band seem to be poor at self-editing, and don’t always know how/when to end a song and how much is enough repetition of a particular part. The album is 77 minutes long, just as the previous was, and just like its predecessor – it is quite arguable that not all 77 of those minutes are utterly necessary and the overall experience and quality would have been higher had someone taken a more discerning approach to serving the songs. This is just my personal taste – but I feel like if Metallica were given a 55-minute limit, this would make all of their albums better.

However, it is welcome that after so many years of unpalatable creative decisions and production jobs, this album, like its predecessor is well performed, sounds “normal” and follows the stylistic and creative directions Metallica are best at, rather than diverging too far into territories they aren’t as strong at. In short, with the exception of the length – Metallica appear to have written the exact album that all the magazines and websites have been saying they (and by implication we) wanted. I for one am quite pleased about that (even if very frustratingly, all the contrarians online are now having the gall to complain about that very fact and decry a lack of diversity and progression – you just can’t win with some people!).

Stylistically, as with its predecessors Death Magnetic and Hardwired… To Self Destruct, the musical direction incorporates large sections of ‘80s style Thrash Metal, with bits of the more melodic and groovy material they made in the ‘90s, and some of the bounce and unpolished feel they developed on the critically panned St. Anger album (although that particular bit has lessened with each album since then). For the most part we get similar material to the best parts of the last two Metallica records, opener “72 seasons” is a lengthy Thrasher, just as the opener to Death Magnetic was (and the closer to Hardwired was). There is a short, quick nostalgia Thrash tune (just like the title track to Hardwired was, and album closer to Death Magnetic was). There are some mid paced songs, often with rolling floor toms, that evoke bits of The Black Album (in a similar way to “Now That We’re All Dead” and “Here Comes Revenge” were from the previous record, or “Broken, Beaten, Scarred” from Death Magnetic was). A few songs towards the back half of the record have some slightly Load/Reload era vocals, just like “The Day That Never Comes” did, or several songs on the second disc of Hardwired.

I don’t think it would be too unfair to call this album a continuation and natural evolution of what Hardwired was. Hardwired was flawed in that some songs on it really didn’t fit and probably should have been kept off for B-sides, and there was one track which I genuinely dislike and wish was never included at all (“Murder One”) – however the highs were very high, in that tracks like “Spit Out The Bone,” in particular, but also “Moth Into Flame,” “Atlas Rise” and a few others are genuinely some of my favourite Metallica songs, period, no qualification. 72 Seasons differs slightly in that no individual song is quite as magic, memorable or instantaneously “classic quality” as the very best moments of Hardwired, but neither is any song out of place, boring, or poor quality. A much more even listening experience overall. I am not sure what is better; 77 good minutes? or a mixture of 30 great minutes, some good minutes, some ok and some poor minutes?

Highlights for me so far are "Chasing Light" which sounds like a mixture of all the different styles mentioned above, as well as the catchy "Too Far Gone?" (great chorus!) and "Room Of Mirrors" (great guitars!). I also really like the title track in principal for its style, although it could use a bit of a trim in the editing room if I am being honest.  

It does seem like a bit of a grower, and gets better with each listen, but it doesn’t have any moment I would call absolutely essential. It is another Metallica album. A good one, throughout, but not a truly great one. To summarise the whole review: Its exactly the right style, sound and production – it picks up where the last ones left off and gives more of the same, (only more cohesive and consistent throughout, however with less of the magic of the absolute best tracks from them). I doubt in 20 years time it will be many people’s favourite Metallica album, but it won’t go down in history as a mistake either.

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