Review by Vladimir on April 24, 2023.
I can’t believe that I’ve actually gotten to this point, it’s so unimaginable if you ask me. Never have I ever thought that in all my life I would ever do a review of a Metallica album, but here I am apparently. I believe that no introduction is needed here since we are talking about one of the biggest bands in the world, the band that pretty much everyone knows, even your next-door neighbor or an average store clerk. This band has been around since 1981 and is still influential and relevant as always, inspiring thousands of youths to listen to metal music, pick up and learn how to play guitar, form a band and so on, myself included. I remember like it was yesterday since the release of their tenth album Hardwired…To Self-Destruct in 2016, which I must say was a pretty solid album since I liked some of the songs on that one, especially 'Spit Out The Bone', 'Moth Into The Flame' and 'Murder One'. Fast forward 7 years later, Metallica has finally released their long-awaited eleventh full-length album 72 Seasons on April 14th, via their label Blackened Recordings. To be honest, I wasn’t exactly hyped for this one, because it’s been a while since I have listened to Metallica at all, but of course tons of fans worldwide were ready as ever to hear the new album, especially since some singles, lyric videos and music videos were released in the meantime to build up expectations. There was even a premiere in theaters to experience the new album, which I think was kind of interesting since the only time I remember Metallica being premiered in theaters was when the movie "Metallica Through The Never" came out back in 2013. Without diving too much deep from the start, it’s time to talk about the new album 72 Seasons by Metallica. Get ready for a long journey because this is going to be interesting…
Our album opener is the title track '72 Seasons' which begins with a fast-picking bass guitar and drums, with the guitar slowly joining, kicking into fast thrash metal riffing with mid-tempo incorporated during verses, and James Hetfield’s signature singing vocals. The wah-wah pedal guitar solo by Kirk Hammett was unavoidable so indeed it was added to the song to remind you that this is a Metallica song after all. Later on, the main riff suddenly changes the tonality but maintains the same structure and tempo. The song wasn’t that bad from the overall perspective, nothing too special to be heard aside from some okay riffs, but my main criticism would be that the guitar solo was forgettable, which sadly won’t be the last time you’ll come across forgettable solos. A similar songwriting formula in terms of the riffs and mid-tempo rhythm can be heard on the next song 'Shadows Follow', with a wah-wah guitar solo striking the wall yet again, but the song as a whole doesn’t stand out in any particular way and it was pretty much a forgettable experience. 'Sleepwalk My Life' kind of tries to be a catchy mid-tempo tune with a somewhat Black Album style to it, although I think you could totally skip this one since it really doesn’t do much. The Black Album style is also present in the song 'You Must Burn!', which reminded me a lot of 'Sad But True' when it comes to the slow rhythmic execution that is instantly recognizable, with some melodic riffs here and there. The turn has finally come for the infamous 'Lux Æterna' which I have heard about a million times since it’s been all over the place when the song dropped. The song overall incorporates a very “New Wave Of British Heavy Metal’ and “Speed Metal” inspired riffing and drumming that reminds a bit of the Kill ‘Em All days, particularly the song 'Hit The Lights'. Luckily this time, no wah-wah pedal was used and so the guitar solo does feel like Kirk, just as the rest of the band, was attempting to time-travel back to 1983. I personally think that 'Lux Æterna' is repetitive and empty despite its attempt at doing a throwback to 1983, but I think it’s not so much empty as the previous and later songs which barely had any signs of life or stood out in any way. The following track 'Crown Of Barbed Wire', which has probably the best title out of the bunch, brings back the repetitive and already-heard song structure from the previous ones, thus totally removing all hope that there will be some improvement to the listening experience. Same could be said for 'Chasing Light', 'Too Far Gone?', 'Room Of Mirrors' and the longest track 'Inamorata', which are just as skippable. And now the time has come for me to talk about the crème de la crème of this album, which many people like me criticized for its repetitive riffing, very uninspired songwriting and the infamous basic guitar solo by Kirk Hammett. That’s right, I am talking about 'If Darkness Had A Son' There was a slight chance for hearing something good this time, the slow galloping riff and the guitar melody which kicked it off gave some hope until the main riff kicked in and you hear the rest of the song. The verse on this one was so out of touch because of James constantly singing the single word “Temptation” with seconds of pause until the actual lyrics begin. Now for the guitar solo. It started out with a wah-wah but quickly switched to a very boring pentatonic scale soloing which sounded like Kirk was trying so desperately to do a guitar solo and struggling to do so. Many people like to say that St. Anger was the lowest point for Kirk Hammett just as much as it was for Lars Ulrich because there were no solos, but this actually tops it by being his most uninteresting and bland as hell solo I have ever heard. Aside from what I’ve said a million times about the forgettable, repetitive and uninspired songwriting, which truly lacks any good moments that shine with powerful and memorable riffs, lyrics are just as uninspiring due to having such senseless and random rhymes that really go nowhere. During this entire album I was so tempted to turn it off and listen to something else, hell if I still wanted to listen to Metallica at that very moment I would have switched to their classic songs when the band was undeniably at their highest peak. The reason why many people such as myself consider those their glory days is because that was when they truly took songwriting seriously and always wanted to push things to the next level. Kill ‘Em All was their debut when thrash/speed metal was starting to explode in the US, but when the time came for Ride The Lightning in 1984, it was when their musicality started shifting with a much more mature songwriting. The reason why I am saying all of this is because Metallica has been known over the years for so many great riffs and great songs in general which really show that there was a great deal of contribution, but now it’s the exact opposite. All this time I kept asking myself if they really tried or just went ahead without any effort. As for the sound production, I would say that it is the same as their previous album Hardwired, where everything is high quality and you can clearly hear the guitars, the bass, the drums and the vocals. Speaking of the drums, one thing I have to comment on is the drumming on 'Lux Æterna', which production-wise and in general sounds almost flawless with all that double-bass work. During the entire song on my every listening, I was so skeptical because it sounded too good to be played by Lars since he’s known for being such a sloppy drummer, and even now you can’t convince me that it was Lars actually putting some effort, unless he really sat and practiced until his feet fell off.
I think that Metallica has officially won the award for the most repetitive and uninspiring album of the year. 72 Seasons? More like 72 reasons to skip this album if you ask me. I don’t want to sound like an immature and childish person or an average elitist who likes to hate on them and their work, but if I was still a die-hard fan like many years ago who was so excited to hear this album from start to finish with high expectations, then this really isn’t what I would come looking for in a Metallica album. Some would excuse this by saying “Well they got old” but I think that would be a very ingenuine excuse if you ask me. There are so many bands beside them that got old and still rock, just look at Sodom for example. In my opinion, it’s not the case of them getting old, I’d say it’s a case of them getting lazy. Aside from the album as a whole, even the official music and lyric videos released on YouTube were lazy and repetitive as well, they all looked the same and you can tell that they were not thought out. I am not sure if this album is meant to be their proper goodbye before they retire, but if that’s the case then this is really not the way to go. Fans deserved so much better than what they got, because this is not how I would like to remember a band before they’re gone. If you really want to go out with the bang, then go out with the bang, just look at Black Sabbath and Motorhead for example. Hardwired…To Self-Destruct was far from a perfect album but it still did so much better than 72 Seasons, it did give some slight hope that the band would get back on track and continue pushing beyond their boundaries. I know that a lot of people will attack me for criticizing the work of a famed and successful band such as Metallica, but I would like to say something before you go “keyboard warrior” on me. I loved this band to death when I was starting out in thrash metal and metal music in general during elementary school, very close to entering my middle school days. I even got to see Metallica perform in Belgrade in 2012 with Gojira and Machine Head as opening acts, and it was indeed an unforgettable and life-changing experience. One of the main reasons why I picked up bass guitar as my first instrument, was because of them. Back then I was really into what Cliff Burton and Jason Newsted were doing, which inspired me to become a bass-player/musician and here I am. When I look back at the days when I religiously worshipped Metallica, and listened to their classic stuff day and night, it could be easily said that they were one of my favorite bands because they saved and changed my life. When I look at them now, I no longer see the same band that shaped my destiny. It’s just not the same band which I saw live in 2012. What I see now is just a mere shadow of a giant…
Rating: 3.7 out of 10230