Flaccid and machine-made, 72 Seasons is an essential experience for those devoid of hearing. Metallica prove once and for all that James Hetfield was right. They really are just average musicians whose explosive, lightning-in-a-bottle experience forty years prior to the release of this was a one-trick pony. Dripping pyrite into the ears of dedicated fans, 72 Seasons is the foolish errors of Hetfield and company, the frontman with his fascinating failure to grasp meaning in the English language. The first eighteen years, the formative days broken down by over an hour of terrible decisions and bizarre reasoning, based on “breaking free of those bondages we carry.” Whatever that means.
Custard yellow dominates the ironic, burnt-out instruments on the front of 72 Seasons. Metallica is burnt out. They have been for the whole of this century. No clearer is that than their inability to look to the future. 72 Seasons, as an album and an opening track, look back on those first eighteen years with tiresome results. Riffs on Shadows Follow feel more akin to late-stage cultural padding than anything of truth or worth. Hetfield, lyrically, is abysmal. Code red in his head and unable to piece together anything emotionally apparent. Shadows Follow devolves into listing off the thrash metal caricatures and the synonyms that come from describing it. Each and every track from 72 Seasons struggles to marry modern Metallica to its past. Lengthy emptiness is frequent. Meaningless headbanging mush appears to be the aim. Sleepwalk My Life Away is apt and empty.
Just like all the tracks on here, Metallica has failed to make any discernible, intense differences. Less confidence, less in the way of ample lyrical material, just a whining and lifeless experience that has flat guitar solos that are used as a tiresome foundation for each track. You Must Burn! showcases Hetfield’s lack of lyrical ambition as he waxes off about henchmen and burning down history. Metallica is burning down their own with this recent stretch of dire albums. A staggered attempt at positivity flows through that track, but the longevity of each bit on this, the Hetfield and Hammett-hogging guitar solos are as bleak as they are uninteresting. Broad strokes with no sincerity behind them.
From font to feeling to featured tracks that dribbled out as singles, 72 Seasons showcases very little in the way of Metallica returning to their roots, as the proposed meaning of this piece would assume. The trouble with all of this, with every second of 72 Seasons, is how even in pinpointing moments of strife and personal struggle, as Metallica often do with their broad strokes, it feels completely unemotional. A singular palette to continually paint from. Too Far Gone? Yes, they are. Inamorata and the meaning behind it showcase Metallica are still appealing to that enamoured emptiness. Still, that closing track is briefly, in spots, the best of a bad bunch. Lacking the punch of powerful metal tracks, 72 Seasons is let down by a strange and flat mixing, an eventless spectacle that hopes longevity and legacy will replace quality and genuine reflection.