72 Seasons in the AMG Rodeö Abyss: Taking the New Metallica Opus for a Ride

The AMG Rodeö is a feature we created to cover promising and/or interesting unsigned acts and get ears on things you might otherwise miss. Today and today only, the Rodeö is being repurposed to cover the biggest metal release of 2023. 72 Seasons is Metallica’s first full-length since 2016s Hardwired…to Self Destruct, and as with any Metallica offering, the metalverse is set to have its collective Jimmies rustled muchly and bigly. We didn’t receive a promo for 72 Seasons since we are far beneath the notice of Lars and company, so we had to acquire it the same way as the rest of you filthy, unwashed masses. With major sites already showering praise and adoration on the album, we gave a select squad of AMG staffers the opportunity to weigh in via this extra special Rodeö Deluxe. The results below are what they are and we apologize for nothing (unless we get sued). Metallica should apologize for that blindingly ass-tastic cover art though. We won’t hold our breath.

Steel Druhm: I’ve had problems with everything post-Black Album, so I came into 72 Seasons with low expectations even before learning that this yellow eyesore was 77 goddamn minutes. Now that I’ve dragged myself through this mammothstrocity for days, I find it’s every bit the over-indulgent, edit-free foray into egomania that we expected, yet there’s some legitimately good stuff here with occasional nods to the …and Justice era. The title track is classic Tallica with enough energy and grit to impress. It’s way too long at 7:39 but Metallica. “Shadows Follow” and “If Darkness Had a Son” use the Hardwired template well, sounding fairly vital. Standout “Lux Æterna” is best in show, channeling the band’s love of early 80s NWoBHM while showing they still have a bit of fire in their dad bods. Both “Too Far Gone” and “Room of Mirrors” are solid, though they won’t blow your mind. As for the rest of the seasons, they’re not pretty. There are too many subpar to bad cuts like “Sleepwalk My Life Away,” “You Must Burn!” and the awful “Crown of Barbed Wire,” all of which sound like escapees from Load/Reload full of lazy, predictable riffing. “Chasing Light” would be decent if anyone bothered to edit it, and the massively overstuffed closer “Inamorata” is a solid 6-7 minute stoner rock song that gets tortured to 11-plus minutes because Metallica. There’s a good 40-minute album here weighed down by 37 extra minutes of fat and impacted shit, making for a marvelous example of middle-age metal. At its worst, 72 Seasons plays like a caricature of prime Metalica, with the writing, performing, and lyrics all bordering on a parody of the things I once loved. The production is loud and lifeless and the guitar tone is stock as Hell. It also has the misfortune to release the same week as the new Overkill, which is 10 times more exuberant and enjoyable. I don’t completely hate this, but I won’t be returning, which makes me sad and St. Angry. 2.0/5.0

Grymm: Metallica is America’s answer to Iron Maiden. Just like their British brethren, their blue-collar, take-no-prisoners energy, undeniable hunger, and non-stop work ethic of their early years rightfully earned them their followers and spot amongst heavy metal royalty, lack of mainstream attention be damned in both cases. However, like their British brethren, their best years are way, way, way behind them, and good GOD, do they not know how to self-edit anymore, and that couldn’t be more apparent on their eleventh album, 72 Seasons. If 72S came at us with the energy, songwritingand heart like the last few minutes of “Room of Mirrors” or bonafide classic “Lux Æterna,” we’d be looking at an easy 3.5, maybe even a 4.0. Instead, too many times, they plod along for at least two-to-three minutes too long, like the opening title track or eleven-minute closer “Inamorata.” Even worse, there are far too many songs that should have been left on the cutting room floor, like “Chasing Light,” “Screaming Suicide,” and especially “Let Them Burn!,” which features one hell of a cringe-inducing mumbling bridge. I wanted to like this album more than I did, but there are about 40 minutes of good-to-great music on an album that’s 77 minutes, and I can’t hang with that. 2.0/5.0

Doc Grier: If you are reading this, something terrible has happened to me. I hope whoever finds this desperate letter safely delivers it to Steel Druhm. I’ve been on the road for days. But I know he’s coming, and I know he’s near. Being a diehard Metallica fan, I wasn’t surprised by the phone call. After all, Lars and I go way back. But my response, “It would have made a fine EP,” is why I’m cowering under a futon mattress in the northern reaches of Russia. I still remember his excitement for tracks like “Crowned of Barbed Wire,” “If Darkness Had a Son,” and the eleven-minute closer, “Inamorata.” Naive as I was that fateful day, I told him they should never have made them. “But we’ve done closers like that before on Load and Reload.” “Those songs were good,” I said, but cutting nine minutes out of “Inamorata” would never save it. Annoyed, he asked me what songs I did enjoy. While a touch poppy, I told him I liked “Lux Æterna.” And “Too Far Gone?” has a catchy chorus. Pause. Lars asked me for others. This was when I fled. I can hear Lars out in the snow. He taunts me day and night, pounding on a trash can to keep me awake. My ration of rotten potatoes is gone. “I’m sorry, I hate your new album!” I plead. “You’ve never let me down like this before!” But it’s too late; he’s in the house. I wish there were more to say in these final moments, but I am at a loss for words. Lost for words about what led me to this moment. Lost for words about 72 Seasons. Why did 72 Seasons have to be the last thing I ever heard? The door is opening now, and all I can say is, “Just stop making mu [For obvious reasons, there was no official score recorded. However, this reads like a 1.5/5.0Sad Steel Druhm]

Saunders: When first single “Lux Æterna” dropped from Metallica’s 11th LP, 72 Seasons, its straightforward, speedy throwback charms gave slender hope for a short, punchy album from the ‘Tallica juggernaut of Hetfield, Ulrich, Hammett and Trujillo, minus excessive bloat. However, clocking in at an eye-watering 77 minutes those hopes were scuppered as Metallica’s woeful inability to self-edit reared its ugly head again. Like every post-Black album, 72 Seasons is an over-long, bloated slog, representing a mixed bag in quality. 72 Seasons balances surly, Load-era grooves, mainstream rock and aged beef with the modern thrash-tinged fare pedaled on Death Magnetic and Hardwired. Devoid of any surprises or dynamics, 72 Seasons is an intermittently enjoyable, frustrating listen, partially redeemed by a beefy, swaggering charm and scattered moments of solid material amidst the considerable rough. “72 Seasons” kicks off solidly enough, only to drag past its welcome, a trait repeated regularly. Solid tunes and album highlights (“Shadows Follow,” “Lux Æterna,” “If Darkness Had a Son,” “Too Far Gone” & “Room of Mirrors”) are disproportionately balanced with overlong or generic chuggers (‘Sleepwalk My Life Away,” “You Must Burn!,” “Crown of Barbed Wire,” “Chasing Light”). And by the time 11-minute closer “Inamorata” arrives, the album’s exhausting, inconsistent nature has taken its toll, and despite interesting moments, the song fails to justify its length. Hetfield’s lyrics flip from darkly personal and thoughtful to ham-fisted and cliched, though his vocal performance is reasonably solid. Meanwhile, too often the album is marred by stock standard, unimaginative riffs and solos. The shiny, faceless production and lifeless guitar tone are other bothersome drawbacks. In particular the brickwalling couples poorly with the album’s exhaustive length. 72 Seasons is far from a trainwreck, and there is enjoyment to be had, but as a whole album experience, it is hard to envision regularly revisiting 72 Seasons as it stands, without considerable flab being discarded in a custom edit. 2.5/5.0

Doc Wvrm: It’s fitting I have so few words for 72 Seasons; someone has to self-edit here, and ain’t who it should be. Metallica haven’t operated with a filter in over a decade, but a 77-minute runtime across 12 vanilla thrash/heavy tracks should warrant jail time. Almost every entry is way, way too long. As a result, good songs become passable (“Room of Mirrors,” Chasing Light,” “Shadows Fall”) and passable songs become insufferable (the rest of the record). Only the mercifully brief “Lux Aeterna” suggests this band still knows how to write a ripper. Worse, 72 Seasons as a whole defies description past “vague whiffs of …and Justice farts.” If a junior band wrote this record, I’d be pillorying them not for ripping off Metallica but for lacking identity. The assembly-line production doesn’t help matters. Always a Metallica bugaboo, the sound smacks of Lars plugging “How should heavy metal sound to sell well” into an AI and running with the results. Even the album art is atrocious! All this leaves me wondering if this is seriously meant for general consumption. I’m genuinely asking: did Metallica mean to release this to the public now, in this state? If so, what the fuck? I cannot believe this is an actual, available-for-purchase album written and performed by the quartet of musicians comprising the legal entity of Metallica, literal living legends that produced some of the best records in the history of metal. 72 Seasons isn’t just unworthy of the time required to slog through it, it’s unworthy of the brain power required to comprehend its existence. What the fuck is this? 1.5/5.0

Holdeneye: The following is a review written in the style of modern-day Metallica writing a song/album:

Here is an interesting intro that describes my history with Metallica. Here, I’ll add some recent context and talk about the fact that I liked Death Magnetic quite a bit but found Hardwired… to be incredibly boring. Here, I’ll say something nice about 72 Seasons, like ‘Hetfield’s voice sounds pretty decent’ or ‘some of the riffs here are pretty alright, particularly the doomier ones like those found on “Crown of Barbed Wire” and “If Darkness Had a Son.”‘ Here, I’ll add a sentence to bolster the word count for no goddamn reason. Here, I’ll say that the title track is okay, but way too long, and that “Lux Æterna” is by far the most compelling song here. Here, I’ll say that there is a 35-minute-long, okay-to-good album trapped under 72 Seasons’ 77 minutes of ice. Here, I’ll say that the album’s primary downfall is that it is just obnoxiously bland and that, no, it doesn’t deserve a lower score. Here, I will follow up on that sentence by saying that a lower score would imply that I hate this music, and, here, I’ll say that I can’t be bothered to feel anything about it, really. Here, I’ll make a reference to an old Metallica song and say I won’t be wasting my hate on this record. Here is a natural stopping point for this review. Here, I’ll blow right past that natural stopping point and keep talking, word count be damned. Here, I’ll conclude things by rehashing a dad joke from one of my old reviews in a desperate attempt to relive my glory days. Here, I’ll include a pointless behind-the-scenes studio recording of me typing this review. 2.0/5.0

Itchymenace: You know when you’re at a show and the guitar tech comes out to do a soundcheck and they play about 30 seconds of random riffs but maybe 5 seconds of that sounds kinda cool? That sums up my feelings about 72 Seasons. I often think back to the scene in Some Kind of Monster where Jaymz and Larz argue whether a riff is “stock” or not. Sadly, for the past 20 years, they’ve all felt stock to me. At this point, I picture them like a pair of old hens squabbling as they crochet together riffs like so many beige throw blankets. Still, 72 Seasons isn’t their worst moment. The Black Album will always be my least favorite Metallica release. The stench of sellout taints every note from what was, up until its release, the coolest band in the world. It broke them and since then they’ve coasted complacently without the creative firepower of their heyday. Outside of Load and St Anger, most of it sounds the same. “Inamorata,” the 11-minute closing behemoth on 72 Seasons is the only song that attempts anything different. It also features one of James’ finest vocal performances. It and “Lux Æterna” are the only songs I see myself returning to. I’ll close by saying Lars is a criminally underappreciated drummer and the only band member whose playing I still enjoy. His stylistic choices elevate so many subpar moments. The online vitriol he receives is criminally unwarranted and we’re lucky to still have him behind the kit. 2.5/5.0.

Special Surprise GuestDoc Fisting: A mere 7 years after 2016’s return to form Hardwired To Self-Destruct, Metallica follows a similar blueprint for the follow-up, 72 Seasons. This time around, frontman James Hetfield has pursued a lyrical concept about the first 18 years of one’s life, and how those early experiences can mold a person’s future. Not surprisingly, this results in some awkward phrasing and St. Anger-esque therapy lingo. (There’s also some Latin!) However, the man is clearly going through some shit, and is inspired to create something positive and relatable from it. Surprisingly, the biggest weakness on Seasons is the songwriting itself. Every track contains bumbling transitions, unnecessary repetition, and parts that frankly sound copied and pasted. Most of the record wallows in a “medium thrash” midtempo, without much variation sonically or rhythmically. Imagine a full album of “Eye Of The Beholder”s or “Of Wolf And Man”s. Subpar ideas are given far more exploration than they deserve, while memorable hooks and riffs are in short supply. Metallica’s inability to self-edit is nothing new, but they’ve never lacked for raw materials before. Credit where it’s due though. Hetfield sounds great, with a minimum of yarling. And more importantly, his rhythm guitar work remains unmatched within the genre. The Ulrich/Trujillo rhythm section is functional, with trademark Lars-isms intact and Trujillo rarely straying from the open E string. Kirk Hammett is sadly the weak link here, and his limited musical vocabulary has never been more distracting. The few noteworthy solos are in fact performed by Hetfield, particularly the harmonies on lengthy closer “Inamorata.” If Hardwired represents the best that modern-day Metallica is capable of, 72 Seasons falls short of that standard. The winning tracks here are the singles, particularly the NWoBHM-channeling “Lux Aeterna.” Nothing here is offensively terrible, but none of it begs for repeat listens either. 2.0/5.0

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