72 Seasons

Well, well, well, what do we have here?  The 12th album by the biggest metal band in the world.  I consider it their 11th, because Garage Inc., while a great covers album, is an album of.. whelp, covers.  I reviewed the last Metallica album Hardwired… to Self-Destruct in 2016 and I really enjoyed it and while not as good as the previous album, Death Magnetic, I still thoroughly enjoyed it.

Those still wishing for a 50-minute Metallica album with an abundance of speedy thrash metal classics, well you all have those classic and timeless albums, therefore 72 Seasons will not be your cup of tea.  But I feel these last three Metallica albums, this album included, all showcase a band still rooted in writing excessively long albums, this is 77 minutes, but still reaching back to those times of yore and still capable of writing speedy thrash metal songs, alongside the groovier passages, with an exceptional production to boot.  If you’re a reader who really likes to hate on everything well feel free to hate on this mostly positive review.

I love Metallica, but I do not feel their discography is stellar.  I am not a fan of the Load, Reload, Lulu era material, at all.  I have a soft spot for St. Anger because they brought back the thrash, although the album is a mess of sorts.  The band has gone on record about what the album title means and I find that it may be too philosophical for some – something that really reminds me of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  I’m a pretty deep guy and my minor in college was Philosophy, but when I listen to metal, I really don’t want to ponder such issues.  I just want to slam dance, thrash and headbang as well as growl obscenities.

Metallica smartly opens the album with the title track.  Pretty cool use of cymbals with a punishing bass drum sound and some guitars before going right into the speedy thrash number, with a nice drum roll from Lars, before the groove erupts and take notice of that signature Metallica guitar crunch sound – it’s killer and James’ vocals are on point, still one of the most distinctive metal singers to this day.  The groove hits hard and then right back into the thrash attack with some excellent guitar riffing.  Lyrics are repetitive in nature and they’re done on purpose for live audiences to sing along – smart decision.  Kirk’s guitar soloing is absolutely killer on this song, which stretches from the thrash speed and traverses to the groove passage.  At over seven and a half minutes it’s more than double the amount of time of the title track off the last album.  However, this is an excellent opening song and it thrashes pretty fucking hard.  This needs to be their opener on their upcoming tours, no question.

Rather than get into the other songs, here and there and I will let’s ffwd to the last track – “Inamorata”.  The band’s longest song at over 11 minutes.  The song crawls, has some sludgy doom, the musicianship is excellent, James is very emotive….but dark lord almighty…11 minutes…come on fellas??  I really think this song could have been sliced and diced by several minutes, or maybe place it towards the middle of the album, or and I would have been the first to raise my hand in the Metallica board room – end 72 Seasons with a rip-roaring thrash song.  The song picks up some speed towards the end with a very “Orion” stylized sound, from their best album, Master of Puppets.

At the end of the day, folks, honestly I know the band has gone on record with the future and all, but in another 7 years, each band member will be in their late 60’s.  If they can still write original fast thrash songs at that time, then that rules, but 7 years is a long AF time and I really wish the band ended on a short and fast number.  They should have ended with the song prior to this long AF song and that is “Room of Mirrors”.  One of the band’s best thrash songs in over 30 years.  This is right up there with the album-ending songs from their previous two albums, with “My Apocalypse” and “Spit Out The Bone” being their best thrash songs since anything off AJFA, add this tune and the title track to this list.  What I love about “Room of Mirrors” is how it starts and then the isolated guitar riff begins which then goes into the thrash speed and Rob’s bass guitar slide provides an undercurrent of what’s been missing from prior Metallica albums over the years.  This moment feels like 1988 all over again.  It’s classic with many homages to the sounds on Master of Puppets – brilliant track-this ends like an album closer and should have been closing the album

Back to the rest of the review, enough of my blathering.  “Shadows Follow” has a great opening with a fast thrash beat and gets into some heavy groove moments.  This is a standout song on this album and played live at an arena is going to sound massive.  “Sleepwalk My Life Away” allows bassist Robert Trujillo to finally shine on a Metallica album because he is an excellent bassist.  The opening bass solo is killer and throughout the album, his bass is mixed in great.  Other than the bass moments this song really goes nowhere fast and at about 7 minutes is filler and not killer.

“Lux Æterna” was the band’s first single which dropped unannounced a few months back and is one of the stronger songs on the album.  Hetfield has went on record stating he wanted the album to be called this but was outvoted, ha ha.  Anyway, this is a standout song and kills from beginning to end.  With lyric homages to ‘Motorbreath” off their debut Kill ‘Em All, with Full speed or nothing as part of the chorus being sung is cheeky and clever.  The guitar solos, the mid-paced thrashiness and drums all are on point and Hetfield sounds great. This will be played for years to come as it’s heavy, fast, and most of all catchy.  “If Darkness Had a Son” is a cool song with the way the drums are plays, Lars does a nice job with the rolls and double bass moments.

The album cover is striking, but the band should have included their classic band logo and I guess the baby that escaped the crib was pissed that the album has too many long songs.  72 Seasons is a good Metallica album, not as good as the last 2, but this wipes the floor with the Load era, St. Anger and Black Album, and stool Lulu.  The band pulls from all their past era so yes there are some Load moments, with the bluesy southern groove type of crap that I just will never like.  I appreciate the band once again pulling from their thrash-era classic period.  Metallica still will not reign it in and at 77 minutes this album overcomes its welcome by 25 minutes.  Too many long songs, which go nowhere, and this is not a reflection of their musicianship, but it’s a lot to take in and the flow is not as cohesive as the last two albums.

The production is insanely killer, although the bass drum sound could have been slightly lowered.  The sound is massive but it’s a bit too loud at times.  Hetfield still sounds amazing, however, 7 years since the last album has taken a bit of a toll on his vim and vigor approach.  Listen to the songs on Hardwired… and you will hear his vintage shouting angry moments.  On 72 Seasons, with the thrash speeds, his vocals are a bit on the crooning, more melodic side.  He still has a bite to his tone, but as I said at 60 years old now, the years are catching up, but hot damn, back in ’83 if you would have told me he would still be singing and playing thrash metal I would say BS.

There’s a lot of catchiness on this album, but streamlined songs and some different song placements, I feel, would have made this album punch a lot harder.  This will sell by the buckets and prepare to see the baby on board color shirts (black and yellow) Metallica shirts infesting all of the mainstream media now.  If I were to place this on a point system I would give this a solid 7.  Good, with great moments, but I think, at this point in this career, this is as good as it will get with Metallica albums.  I predict there will be one more album before the band packs it in.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Frank Rini
April 17th, 2023


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