Metallica - 72 Seasons
Blackened Recordings
Thrash Metal
12 songs (1:17:13)
Release year: 2023
Reviewed by Goat
Major event

The monkey's paw has not just curled, it has shrivelled up into a tightly-wound ball. This is what you people wanted, after all! You bewailed the Loads and Reloads, the St Angers and Lulus, so when Metallica returned to, y'know, making metal, they weren't giving in to their new artsy-fartsy friends who took them to modern art galleries, they were indulging you, the fans, with them since the 80s, for whom Metallica was the purest distillation of those first five letters? And sure, the heavier, more classically metal songs produced since Death Magnetic have been a vast, vast improvement but even the most dedicated Metallican would admit that the band have a bad habit of being unable to self-edit, up there with Iron Maiden at their most pompous. Even so, their previous outing Hardwired... to Self Destruct was both a good Metallica album and a good metal album, even if a producer worth their salt should have strangled any talk of double albums at birth and taken a sharp knife to it in the editing room. Unfortunately, 72 Seasons is neither a good Metallica album nor a good metal album.

If you gave some AI the prompt to write far, far too much stock, boring metal, 72 Seasons is what you'd get. Pretty much everything about this, from cover art to lyrics to the music itself, is either bad or verging on it. The lack of subtlety is as garish as that godawful, headache-inducing cover art, which still seems almost too much of a practical joke to be real. And what else could a Metallica album in 2023 be except about youth, "72 seasons" referring to the first 18 years of life and how it shapes our existences, and who better to write songs about that than a bunch of millionaires pushing 60? The lyrics are the now stereotypical Hetfordian angst and anguish, and listening to the homogenous music, you feel every bit of it.

Despite technically not being a double-album, this is still a fat, bloated beast just fifteen seconds shorter than Hardwired. And, unlike Hardwired, this is utterly lacking in dynamics between - or within - songs, and even hooks are thin on the ground. The opening title track goes on and on, building up in a way that is meant to be epic but isn't. It stretches riffs out far beyond the breaking point, repeating itself to the point where the song could easily have been cut to half its over seven minutes' length. All utterly Metallica-by-numbers, unseasoned meat and overboiled potatoes. Shadows Follow and Screaming Suicide come next with little seeming deviation, even the tempo being the same mid-paced chug to the point where this could be one long 77 minute song; no-one pass this idea onto Lars!

At this point in the album, you're nearly twenty minutes in with little to remember except some of Hetfield's vocal yowls, which are indeed not bad for a rock frontman. And boy, does it get worse. Sleepwalk My Life Away and You Must Burn! may be a little groovier but similarly go on and on, feeling like lost songs from the Load era rather than exciting new Metallica cuts thirty years later. Chasing Light and If Darkness Had a Son especially feel like they were created by one of those soundboards that used to be popular in the early days of the internet, even down to Hetfield's yells. And although things improve a little towards the end of the album with a slightly more energetic vibe to Room of Mirrors (although still overlong and nothing that the band themselves haven't surpassed previously) eleven-minute finale Inamorata is a real disappointment. Beginning with doomy riffs that quickly start to drag and turn groovy in yet another Load throwback with none of that record's personality or emotion, it dies down with a bass solo and some reasonably creative drumming (for Lars at least) before a turn towards the bluesy with Hetfield's best performance on the album. It has received a lot of deranged praise from people who really should know better but it remains a good five minute song that has been stretched out far, far too long.

The single good song present is Lux Æterna, cruelly the first single selected by the band to introduce us to their new opus, and unsurprisingly the shortest piece present at just over three minutes - short, sharp, fast, exciting, it's all the things that Metallica used to be! A 40 minute album full of songs like this would have blown everyone away and proved that metal's biggest band still deserved the title. Sadly, the band turn back towards the generic chugging of Crown of Barbed Wire, and the brief glimpse of an alternative universe where Metallica are still exciting is gone. Surely metal should be exciting? The soul-gripping churn of doom, the action-packed thrillride of thrash... and this is metal created by the genre's biggest, signature, stereotypical representation! It should be as powerful as it promises to be, and yet 72 Seasons just isn't. Instead, this sounds utterly standard for metal, beginner-level bar music of the sort that is created and consumed every day without notice; dad rock at its most bland. The best you can say for 72 Seasons is that Hetfield sounds good at points and some of the solos are a little better than expected. Atop that is poured a rancid soup of bloat and gristle, drowning out any positives. The monkey's paw has granted your wish, and Metallica make metal again - except this is metal that you don't want to listen to, because they've apparently forgotten how to write memorable riffs or craft songs. And so Metallica remain a very rich group of men who have forgotten what it means to be told no, to cut out the damn fat and write albums as good as they once could. The positive mainstream critical response to this was baffling; you can only assume there were a lot of cheques in the mail. Clearly, mine never arrived.

Killing Songs :
Lux Æterna
Goat quoted 35 / 100
Other albums by Metallica that we have reviewed:
Metallica - S&M2 reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Metallica - Hardwired... To Self-Destruct reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Metallica - Ride the Lightning reviewed by Adam and quoted CLASSIC
Metallica - Reload reviewed by Aleksie and quoted 62 / 100
Metallica - The Videos 1989-2004 DVD reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
To see all 17 reviews click here
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