By Kyle Walker
The biggest metal band in the world, Metallica, has just released their 11th studio album, “72 Seasons.” This year marks seven years since their last release.
Needless to say, this album has been long awaited by many thrash metal fans, myself included.
It has been a tradition, started by my dad in the 1980s, for my family to buy a physical copy of every Metallica album on the day of release. I am proud to say I was able to carry on this tradition.
On April 14, when this record was released, I went straight to the store after work and picked up the “Midnight Violet” vinyl color variant of this album.
I must say, the packaging for the physical copies presents the record masterfully. When you open the album gatefold, it is all black with the numbers “7” and “2” cut out on each site. These cutouts allow you to see through to the inner-sleeves, which are close up headshots of all the band members. While open, the cover and back cover create a large version of the album art.
This added a whole new element to the listening experience, which unfortunately is completely absent when using music streaming platforms.
The album’s title refers to the number of seasons people live through within the first 18 years of their lives. Lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist James Hetfield came up with this idea after reading a book about childhood.
Throughout the album, he discusses his own childhood and how it was not so easy.
The record kicks off with the title track “72 Seasons.” This was one of the four singles released in preparation for the album's release. The track begins with a constant rumbling bassline and drum groove, leading directly into a heavy palm-muted introductory guitar riff.
Right off the bat, everything sounds well mixed and clean. It sounds very modern, but still characteristic of their older material from the ’80s.
This modern sound is nothing necessarily new for Metallica, but this feels right for them. This was a very powerful way for them to set the scene for the album.
“Shadows Follow” continues the album. This is definitely my favorite song on this record. It has plenty of headbanging riffs, super energetic vocals, and a killer solo. It ends with a descending riff and a final chord in which all the guitar tracks end at varying intervals. This makes for a super raw sound that I enjoy.
One thing I find really odd is how “Sleepwalk My Life Away” and “If Darkness Had a Son” sound way too similar in the beginning. The opening guitar lines are almost one-to-one. I’m unsure whether this similarity was intentional or simply coincidental, but it seems strange to me.
“Lux Æterna” was the first single released. This track is incredible. It begins with a fast, almost jarring, descending guitar riff. This riff ends and rings out to let drummer Lars Ulrich shine. He starts playing a groove that features a constant quadruplet double-kick drum beat. This comes up a few times throughout the song. It just sounds so awesome.
To wrap up the album is the track “Inamorata,” which happens to be the longest Metallica song to date at just over 11 minutes. This song isn’t very exciting unfortunately. When I first saw how long this track was, I was genuinely excited but it doesn’t really seem to build at all. It’s just the same thing over and over. It’s not terrible, but I just expected more.
Overall this album is not too bad, it’s all right. There are plenty of impressive moments throughout, but it seems dull and lacking in other aspects. I think I just expected more from this release. As I said, there are some really good tracks on here, so I think I will be coming back to revisit this album in the future.
C+: Plenty of wah-wah, not enough “YEAH-YEAH”