“72 Seasons:” yet another disappointing Metallica release


Mikalah Owens

Thrash metal band Metallica released their 11th studio album, “72 Seasons,” April 14. While some fans are calling “72 Seasons” Metallica’s best album in a long time, the band’s new album is mediocre and more annoying than anything. The bright album cover is starkly different from the band’s other cover art with its obnoxiously loud color and doesn’t blend well with the album’s sound. (Photo from Metallica)

After 40 years of releases and four decades of being simultaneously loved and loathed, Metallica returns with their new album “72 Seasons.” 

Honestly, I’m not a big Metallica fan, but I understand their popularity. Metallica was great in the ‘80s when they took the world by storm with albums like “Master of the Puppets” and “Ride The Lightning.” Still, now, Metallica is just a parody of themselves, producing generic, regurgitated riffs and ideas. They haven’t made a good album — or even a good song — in 30 years. The music isn’t what it used to be, and the vocals just sound overworked. Metallica is seen more as a brand than a band.

Metallica completely changed metal and music itself when they released their debut album “Kill ‘Em All” in 1983. Heavily inspired by the punk band Misfits, Metallica used an intense guitar rhythm, stoic drum patterns and intimidating lyrics to catch the attention of rebellious teens in the 80s. With their iconic sound, Metallica has sold more than a million copies of each of their albums and has surpassed a billion streams on Spotify. (Graphic by Mikalah Owens, Photos from Metallica’s official website.) (Mikalah Owens)

“72 Seasons” matched my low expectations with a dim 77-minute runtime. Even though they’re known for their long guitar solos and heavy music composition, this album just sounds like one big, tedious song that you don’t ever want to hear again. The fact that fans and critics, especially metal critics, aren’t tearing this album apart has me in utter shock. 

From a musical standpoint, “72 Seasons” is not awful. However, it is very generic. The only thing that hasn’t been boring in Metallica is the riffs written by guitarist Kirk Hammett. Hammett has never been a weak member of Metallica. His solos on iconic songs like “One” and “Wherever I May Roam” never fail to take my breath away. On the other hand, drummer and co-founder Lars Ulrich is a weak, stiff and overall awful drummer. I’ve never listened to a Metallica song and been like, ‘Wow! I love that drum pattern!’ No, it’s the opposite: I’ve rolled my eyes and vocalized my immense dislike for Ulrich. Meanwhile, bassist Robert Trujillo is just . . . there — nothing bad, nothing great. That said, what mainly falls short in “72 Seasons” is singer, lyricist and guitarist James Hetfield. It feels like Hammett, Ulrich and Trujillo tried resurrecting something similar to old Metallica with “72 Seasons,” but Hetfield wasn’t up to the task.

Truthfully, Hetfield isn’t a talented enough wordsmith or singer to overcome the mediocrity of the music on “72 Seasons.” The album’s lyrics fall short, notably in the third track, “Screaming Suicide.” With an intense title, I was expecting something to rock me to my core and make me stare at my wall for an hour. Instead, Hetfield writes, “Then a voice appears/ Whispers in your ears/‘You are good enough.’” The lyrics sound like something on an inspirational poster for a counselor’s office instead of something that’s supposed to be insightful for the listener. 

Trujillo gets a shot at some backup vocals on track five, “You Must Burn!” Like Layne Staley and Jerry Cantrell harmonized in the grunge band Alice In Chains, Trujillo and Hetfield harmonize on the track. They don’t work nearly as well as the iconic grunge duo, but it was a nice attempt. I was taken aback for a second because, surprisingly, it wasn’t completely dreadful. I didn’t enjoy it, but Metallica hasn’t had a new element added to their work in years, so the duet was a nice refresher from just thrash metal. 

“72 Seasons” lasts way too long; I wanted the album to end almost as soon as I started it. It’s not a career-redefining album, and it’s barely an okay record. “72 Seasons” is like if Metallica, a famous thrash metal band, got too inspired by Taking Back Sunday, a whiny pop punk band from the 2000s, and then just released it for fun: it’s completely unnecessary. I hate that fans and critics aren’t ripping apart this album as it should be. It’s not good. The music is mediocre and nothing special, the lyrics are a mess, and the band’s arrogance overwhelms the audience. Sure, “72 Seasons” isn’t as horrible as 1991’s self-titled release — otherwise known as the “Black Album” — that drove ¾ members to get divorced, or the monstrosity that was 2003’s release of “St. Anger,” but then again, literally anything is better than that album. People praising “72 Seasons” is like applauding kids for saying ‘thank you’ — celebrating the bare minimum. 

For 30 years, Metallica hasn’t released a new song that captivated the world quite like their release of “Master of Puppets” in 1986. Nobody has ever asked me if I’ve heard a new Metallica album with a shining, adoring look in their eye. Instead, every metalhead I’ve spoken to has given me a distasteful, “Dude, did you hear that new Metallica song? They should’ve stopped after the ‘Black Album.”’ They make a strong point: Metallica should’ve stopped decades ago and just done some tours promoting their older, iconic, scene-changing songs like “For Whom The Bell Tolls” and “One.” Instead, after “Master of Puppets” took every person under the age of 25 by storm when it was featured in the Netflix hit “Stranger Things,” Metallica capitalized on their revitalization and released this new album, most likely as a cash grab. 

Each new Metallica album demands expectations from fans but never exceeds them. The band’s new sound comes off as cheap and too commercialized compared to their early thrash metal days. 

Metallica doesn’t need to add to its legacy. They have a decade of scene-changing work, and by creating new, awful music, they’re tarnishing their legacy and turning their name into a product rather than art. 

The Pathfinder gives Metallica’s “72 Seasons” a 2.5/10