72 Seasons (Blackened Recordings)
by Scott Deckman
Of course they’re geezers. Everyone’s about 60, with divorces, grown kids, and years-long world tours under their bullet belts where they did enough drugs and quaffed enough alcohol to kill lesser men many times over – and some weaker animals. Still, when the geezers have names like James and Kirk and Lars (and, for those counting at home, Robert), people still want to hear what they’re doing. Here, on Metallica’s 11th proper studio record, 72 Seasons, James Hetfield is again riffing like a mother on songs that run on too long. In fact, first single, “Lux Æterna,” at 3:25, is a damn tease, as only one other ditty comes in under the five minute mark (“Too Far Gone?” at 4:33; using Spotify numbers here). And that’s always the question with these fellas: Are they just rich grandpas going through the motions, or are they still making valid metal?
The answer is: Kinda. 72 Seasons finds the band swimming in a mélange of thrash, hammering metal, a little bluesy hard rock, and even, on one cut at least, Sabbath-by-way-of-slower-tempoed-Slayer (“You Must Burn!”), the latter band the only other true contender for the thrash crown. And leave Kirk alone, he loves his wah-wah, you grouser. It’s what he does. And his playing is good enough for me.
Unfortunately, the record never gets any better than the first minute of namesake opener “72 Seasons,” which features shit-upon drummer nonpareil Lars Ulrich doing his best to smash those detractors in the mouth. Okay, “Lux Æterna” (which, for the curious, means “eternal light” in Latin) is pretty good, too, with Lars again starring. So is the chorus of “Too Far Gone,” which proves the band’s flirtation with alt-rock, even power pop, still lives, in the middle of all the palm mutes and grunts. Lyrically – surprise! – James is still dealing with past issues in that overwrought way the listener has become accustomed. Nothing groundbreaking here, but there’s crunch-crunch aplenty, and fans of eternal riffmaster James Hetfield should enjoy that irreplaceable left-hand jive.