The new album of 2023, 72 Seasons…
For the past 6 or so months or however long it's been since Lux Aeterna came out and the album was announced, the internet has been an unmitigated hype train. A new Metallica album makes the same cultural waves these days of a new Star Wars movie (well before Disney anyway). And like Star Wars fans psyched out of their minds in 1999, the minute the new movie or in this case album comes out, instantly the internet hates it. Before the dust has even settled or any time has passed, the "influencers" have already passed judgment and moved on. Well, good for them, now that some of the hype has evaporated, I've gone and heard this album in its entirety.
Lo and behold, it kicks ass!
Honestly this album is a great middle ground in between their early thrash days (Lux Aeterna), their prime of Justice era, and as a welcome surprise, much feels in sync with their 90s era of Black through Reload. Which is something I've really been hoping and wishing for, so I'm glad those records get some love on this new one.
So far, the most memorable tracks for me are Lux, because it came out first and is faster/shorter than the rest; the title track; the Alice in Chains-inspired "Crown of Barbed Wire," with definite Layne Stalely influence in the vocals; and by far my favorite song on the album, the proggy closer "Inamorata," whose lyrics depicting an unrequited romance with misery beg comparisons to "My Friend of Misery" from the Black album. The opening riff to this song is just so heavy and awesome, but I love the whole thing. I always love the long, epic instrumental tracks (well this one isn't instrumental but you know what I mean) i.e. Call of Ktulu, Orion, To Live is to Die, Suicide & Redemption, and now this.
Personally, I think the album flows a bit better if you start listening in the middle with "Lux Aeterna," then once it "ends" loop back around to the beginning and continue from "72 Seasons" onward to "You Must Burn!" Admittedly, Inamorata is a better finale track, so maybe swap those two? Point is, I think it was a bit of a mistake starting the album with two long songs. This early in, they can feel like they drag on a bit near the end. They could have shaved 30s - 45s off a couple of songs and that might've helped with the pacing. However, if you listen to the album the way I describe, then it doesn't feel like it drags. After the slow and long Inamorata, 72 Seasons by contrast feels faster and more energetic. So it work better. And Lux works as an opener because it's like "Battery" or "Blackened."
Overall, if you were expecting something mind-blowing and revolutionary in the world of heavy metal, well then no, this probably isn't it, but I'd say that's an unrealistic expectation. I get it. Ever since Ride the Lightning
, this band set the bar very high and just kept raising it with each successive release. However, this is why I prefer listening to the record after a bit of time has passed. When it's completely new, people tend to judge it compared to their expectations, which can lead to some unfairly harsh critiques. Once some time has passed and you aren't in a rush to be the first to review while the topic is still hot, you can more comfortably digest the album at your leisure, and appreciate it for what it is, not what you imagined it might be. And what it is is an album absolutely 100% worthy of the name Metallica