Agony and cringe are loaded in equal measure to a track that signals the beginning of an abrupt and thankful end. Metallica has strummed their last and if the title track of their latest album, 72 Seasons, is anything to go by, James Hetfield was correct in one of his recent remarks. Metallica are decent players that come together to make a better sound. The latter half and claim that magic happens when they are as one seems futile now and has done since the late 1980s. Resting on legacy and laurels is expected of the harsh rock bands of the time. Metallica has failed to move its sound on to anywhere new. These stock standard pieces are run-of-the-mill and show Metallica are not innovating, they are just going through the motions. 72 Seasons is an act of muscle memory rather than artistic intent.
Lazy thrash metal comes and goes for Metallica and it makes for an unmoving experience here. Listeners know what to expect from Metallica now and that is the draw. 72 Seasons offers nothing new. Another lengthy rock track that loses steam before it ends. Is it possible to find love for this track without an already cemented nostalgia? Is that the key to enjoying modern Metallica? That did not work for Lulu, a Lou Reed collaboration that saw the man himself say it was an album for thinkers, not for breathers. Metallica has found themselves apologising ever since and the steadiness that comes from 72 Seasons is an underwhelming attempt at making up for it. Lars Ulrich may be back in force with persuasive percussion, but it is still the empty thrash metal of the time.
They are not feeding on the wrath of man as the opening Hetfield lyric implies, instead, they feast on their own legacy. A self-eating project that peddles neutered rock tracks where the predictable lyrics are constant even if the vocal performance from Hetfield is acceptable. 72 Seasons has, so far, been of an acceptable if boring quality. It is what makes Metallica so redundant and so dismal to listen to. Consistently fearing the wrath of man, they should instead fear the wrath of those who remember them for the glories of Master of Puppets. Hetfield riffs away with that steady chord progression, a source of consistency had it not been used in the same manner for the previous, dullard singles. What a charmless snooze this one turns out to be.
Perhaps that is because 72 Seasons is a near eight-minute track with about two minutes of interest. Metallica is still of the unconvincing impression they can swing with the mighty, lengthy best. An empty vessel for mindless headbanging. But that used to mean something, especially to those still clinging to Metallica as an emotionally supportive presence. 72 Seasons shows that consistent form is rare, near impossible. It is for Metallica, who chase a redundant style that could, with minor changes, still be as roaringly innovative as it once was. Instead, Metallica is staring into blacklight and worrying themselves over midnight, darkness and leather jackets. That form died out years ago, and the failure to move on puts Metallica on the same rung as legacy acts like Yes and U2. Shadows of their former selves, feeding off the wallets of man.