Thursday, November 30, 2023
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Metallica – 72 Seasons Review

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.  

Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet


  1. Damn great way to show you don’t get it.those who can do those who can not write about it.hilarious review

    • Thanks for reading, Ronald! A bit of punctuation goes a long way, though! I may not be able to “do” an album of empty gestures but I can indeed do writing about it.

  2. Is this their best work ever? No, and nobody really expected it to be. It IS a very solid album with the flavors of Load/Re-Load and the more modern stylings blended together. Much like those albums from the mid to late 90s, this one will take a little time to fester and grow… Give it a few more listens.

    This album may not appeal to everyone, but that doesn’t mean it’s poorly written, recorded, or produced… Obviously the writer of this article has trouble removing personal tastes, preferences, and biases from the review.

    • Thanks for reading! Should a listener settle for the rumblings of mediocrity Metallica has offered up time after time now? I can’t see this one growing, although festering is the right word for it. Like a wound, it may live on for a few years until it pops, pus and all.

      Personal tastes, preferences and biases are, more or less, the entire point of a review. Perhaps you’d prefer it if I just copy the press email announcement and slap “it aligns with what fans of Metallica have convinced themselves they want” at the end?

  3. Whilst everyone is entitled to their own opinion, this seems a little harsh at best. As an old fan who felt they had long left their best in the past , I find this far more, dare I say it, enjoyable than many of the recent offerings. In my humble
    opinion, this album would not have felt out of place following on from the black album, which, for the record, was the album that for me, felt like a move away from what made them the great force they were. Nonetheless, this album, as the black album are not without some truly great moments and hard riffs that do hark back to times past and influences which any rock fan cannot ignore. Epic? No, but neither is it flaccid and in a world of mediocrity, this stands out as legendary band trying hard to fight against that.

    • Thanks for reading, Steve, appreciate it and your opinion! For me I’d say the music landscape now, especially last year, is far from mediocrity, which is why it feels so hard to swallow Metallica’s recent effort. It’s the emptiness of it all that strikes me, as it did with U2 and Van Morrison’s recent outings. Shadows of themselves is my worry for legacy-defined artists who, just a few years ago, were putting out consistently interesting releases.

    • Thanks for reading! What a strangely narrow view of music you must have that your kneejerk reaction to “he doesn’t like Metallica’s newest album” is “he must like Taylor Swift”. Both can be liked, both are liked by me, not sure what your point is.

  4. Interesting review, I’m thinking that total negativity can be perhaps directed at the likes of St Anger (which was a proper mistep) and Lulu (bonkers, despite personally finding ‘an in’ with it funnily enough) but I found a fair bit to like on 72 seasons. I think it does lack dynamics but then, so perhaps does the review? I love Metallica rather unashamedly and this is not like listening to Master of Puppets for the first time….but in reality that sort of lightning bolt epiphany has only happened once in my 51 years on the planet. The question of when to stop is an interesting one. Metallica continue and I’m rather glad, even if four 60+ year old multi-millionaires, struggle to find the same angst-ridden confidence born of 17 year olds living off road kill. Apologies in advance for any grammatical faux Pas :-).

    • Thanks for reading, Patrick! I’ve got a shameful soft spot for Lulu, although I do find it hilarious that Lou Reed essentially asked Metallica to be his backing band. Very strange change of pace for them. The fact of the matter is that Metallica’s latest album is very humdrum, very rigid and very much what we’ve come to expect. It’s only been inflated as a “good” album by Metallica’s standards because of how awful they’ve been recently. Some, better musicians just don’t ever lose that. Not sure what dynamics you can apply to 500 words when that’s very physical and movement-oriented, but, we do try! Appreciate the comment!

  5. Refreshing and brave to read a review that is actually accurate. I’ve listened to the album twice, an arduous task if I’m honest and I was beginning to think I was the only one who didn’t like the album. I’m a life long fan, I appreciate the days of MOP are past them but I also loved LOAD etc, and I remember the stick they took for that album, which imho is head and shoulders above 72 seasons. 72 seasons is safe, souless, generic and to be totally blunt, absolutely boring! The drums sound like a machine, the guitar tone is flumpy and the riffs are weak. The songs are too long and bloated, Hetfield sounds great but the lyrics are childish and generic. The overall production is lackluster and souless. I take no pleasure in saying that, I love Metallica but I’m done. Overkill released scorched the same day, I’ve lost count on the listens to that album…I’ll leave it there.

  6. Thought it was me also, have tried several listens and it’s bloody awful, generic shite.

    Just Sat through an hour of Zane Lowe working his tongue up the arse of each one of them……sorry, interviewing them, declaring how brave and vital the album sounds.

    Found it rather reminiscent of a Steve Wright in the afternoon interview for its industrial scale insincerity and sycophancy.

    Everything they’ve done since Load/Reload sounds derivative, in some cases you can make out old riffs that have been recycled into new songs.

    At least Slayer had the decency to call it a day when they did, think Metallica should of packed it in after the S&M album in 1999 with their legacy reasonably intact…….

    (Grammar not checked)

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