Metallica’s '72 Seasons' Album Review
The Four Horsemen have come once more to thrash us with accelerating and crashing waves of power riffs. “72 Seasons” marks Metallica’s return, their eleventh studio album following their 2016 project “Hardwired... to Self-Destruct.” Like “Hardwired,” this album stretches a little over 77 minutes, and whether that is welcomed depends entirely on the listener’s appetite for constant loudness.
From start to finish, Metallica had two goals with “72 Seasons,” those being 1) to never slow down in tempo for any reason, and 2) to recapture what made “old Metallica" — that being “Kill ‘Em All” (1983) to “The Black Album” (1991) — so popular. After all, it is those first five albums which define Metallica in people’s minds and their contributions to the evolution of sound. To both of these goals, “72 Seasons” over-accomplishes to an enervating degree.
While debatable whether it is an issue at all, it is still worth mentioning that this album, despite its length, features zero ballads. Considering that many of the tracks of this album could be criticized as sounding like duplications of one another, ballads could have brought contrast between thunderous tracks. Metallica preferred to stampede over such an idea and relentlessly shred in substitution. While many of the songs are headbangers, lead singer James Hetfield has gotten more vocally confident over the past years in performances, and looking at their operatic dabbles in symphonic metal, they could have provided complex pieces similar to what they did in “...And Justice for All” (1988).
Tracks that are worth mentioning, “Lux Æterna”, “Inamorata”, and the title track “72 Seasons” all give what people want out of a Metallica album. That is to say, music that captures one’s love for absolute chaos and tempest. The songs’ incapacitating crescendos never cease to bring in interesting rhythms and roundabouts, obscuring what they might throw at you next. In fact, these songs sound like they could have come out in the 1980s, during Metallica’s heyday.
Many of the other tracks are also good, with “Too Far Gone?” and “Room of Mirrors” being more of melodic Heavy Metal than Thrash Metal, but still sounding like Metallica all the same. Though the album is overall good, not every song is, with the main problem being that the songs do not need to be as long as they are. There are 12 tracks on this album and 7 of them are over six minutes long. One of the great things about Thrash Metal as a genre, and as Metallica cemented it in the late 80s, was its promptitude. It is the speed at which the songs are presented that makes this type of music a joyride to listen to. Were some of the songs shortened by a one or two minutes, they would be far less bloated and far more memorable.
This album is not bad. Though it is not among their absolute best, it is not as unlistenable as “Saint Anger” (2003), and will likely grow on people the more that it’s listened to. Were it released by another band, it would probably not be as sought-after, but considering how dedicated of a fanbase Metallica has, it's not surprising that people are conflicted on it. It is interesting to see that Metallica is still popular, even among young people, considering that the songs which they are primarily known for are over 30 years old now. While that could be seen as a referendum on them not releasing anything as notable in those 30 years, it should be preferred to say that it is commendable to see that their music has stood the test of time.