Metallica – 72 Seasons (Album Review)

Legends within the world of Heavy Metal, Metallica offer their fans a walk down memory lane with the brand-new studio album 72 Seasons. 

Released on April 14, 2023 via their own record label Blackened Recordings, it marks the band’s first studio effort since 2016’s Hardwired… to Self-Destruct. This in mind, some might be wondering… what exactly 72 Seasons is supposed to stand for? Well, it is a reference to members – James Hetfield (vocals, rhythm guitar), Lars Ulrich (drums), Kirk Hammett (lead guitar), Robert Trujillo (bass) – first eighteen years of life and what shaped them; hence the album’s artwork showing a charred crib. A compelling concept on many levels… because aren’t we all compelling by looking back at our formative years to figure out why we are who we are? Anyway, let’s step back a bit some more to reflect on Metallica… a band that does not really need much of an introduction. In their over forty plus years together, across eleven studio albums, tons of touring, and being crowned one of the biggest Heavy Metal bands ever… everyone has come across them in one way or another. 

Now, it is true that some old school fans may have jumped off the Metallica train somewhere around 2003’s polarizing release of St. Anger. However, the band won some people back with 2008’s Death Magnetic, and continued to do so with the positively received Hardwired… to Self-Destruct. Which leads us to 72 Seasons which consists of twelve songs laid out over a bit more than seventy-seven minutes. So, how does it fare against more modern Metallica albums such as the three just mentioned? Honestly, pretty well. In fact, it sounds pretty good production wise (thanks to Greg Fidelman) and it features a ton of thoughtful lyrical content that you can really dig into. 

You have the catchy title-track, “Shadows Follow,” but also the strong, tight rhythmic arrangements of “Screaming Suicide.” On the other side you have the heavy bass throb opening of “Sleepwalk My Life Away.” Quickly settling into a heavy groove, “You Must Burn!” then brings some calmness to the overall mood of the album thanks to a steady, thick guitar rhythm and the backing vocals of Trujillo later on in the track. 

Nearly halfway in, the album seems to have settled down, but then you have the full throttle ruckus of “Lux Æterna” which leads into the energetic “Crown of Barbed Wire.” This is while “Chasing Light” draws you in with more rhythmic riffs that do not let up, “If Darkness Had a Son” keeps up the intensity (matched with an impressive guitar solo), and “Too Far Gone?” sticks in your head thanks to a hooky vocal melody in the chorus. And if you think it would merely be full speed ahead for the remainder of this journey, think again, because “Room of Mirrors” finds the band shifting gears slightly around each turn, before “Inamorata” closes the album with a heavy, yet more mellow tone. 

All in all, 72 Seasons stylistically and sonically is modelled after some of Metallica’s classic material such as 1986’s Master of Puppets or 1988’s …And Justice for All. Not at all putting it on the same level as those records, let us just say it fits nicely next to them. Either way, 72 Seasons includes the strength, intensity and energy that many Metallica fans love. Heavy on groove, deep in personal lyrical content, yet arguably light on diversity, it is still quite enjoyable Metal… and that is why Cryptic Rock gives 72 Seasons 4.5 out of 5 stars. 

Metallica – 72 Seasons / Blackened Records (2023)

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