• Tue. Apr 16th, 2024

METALLICA – 72 SEASONS album/listening party review

ByTaylor T Carlson

Apr 18, 2023

72 SEASONS is the eleventh studio album of original material by Metallica. The album was released 14 April 2023, and produced by Greg Fidelman.

Is there any heavy metal band in existence more famous or known than Metallica? For over four decades, the band has entertained headbangers around the world, going from a Bay Area thrash band to a global powerhouse. From their early thrash era to taking on a more mainstream and radio-friendly songs, to musical experimentations and back to the hard and heavy, they’ve been all over the place. Figuratively and literally. With the changes in the music business, and of course, recent world events, time gaps between studio albums have become larger.

72 Seasons is Metallica’s latest studio release of original material, and their first since HARDWIRED… TO SELF-DESTRUCT back in 2016. To commemorate the release of the new album, the band offered the interesting proposition of being able to attend an album listening party event, happening in movie theaters around the nation, thus giving fans the ability to listen to the record in its entirety the night before its official release, along with some visual accompaniment and interview clips with the band. Being a fan of the band and curious to hear how their latest release came out (like most fans I’d only heard a handful of songs ahead of the proper release), I bought a ticket and attended the event at the Regal Red Rock movie theater here in Vegas; three theaters in Vegas were hosting the event, with the others being Regal Sunset Station and Century Orleans.

The event I attended was quite crowded; Regal Red Rock used one of the largest auditoriums they had for the listening party. While I would’ve preferred one of the smaller rooms with the nicer reclining chairs, I don’t think any smaller auditorium would’ve been able to hold or contain this many enthusiastic Metallica fans banging their heads. I met some friends at the theater, and of course was impressed by the sheer array of people that showed up. Does any band have as wide and diverse a fanbase as Metallica? That alone was one of the most impressive things about this event, seeing the variety of fans coming out in droves and packing the venue.

I wasn’t quite sure what we’d be getting when it came to this event; I’d certainly never attending anything similar to this before despite being a both a regular headbanger and moviegoer. The event started with some ads for Metallica’s recent exploits, but quickly went into being a track-by-track show, with all 12 tracks from the album played to music videos, with band member intros beforehand. Of course, the Metallica boys found plenty of time to work some humor into these moments as well, providing some much-needed balance to the evening. The total event lasted just under two hours, and did not feature any previews/trailers prior to the showing. The ending of the evening also mentioned a future event with the band’s upcoming concert tour and how it’ll also be shown in theaters.

So… how about the video accompaniment to the songs? This was an interesting experiment which fortunately had more hits than misses. Many of the videos were simply concert footage of the band with a few visual gimmicks, not unlike watching a music video on MTV back in the day (you know, back when that channel actually played music). Others were far more experimental, including animation, pixel art, and everything in between, ranging from the simple to the complex. I can’t say that I loved every single visual accompaniment segment here, but it was an interesting experiment, and I’d certainly buy a ticket to see more bands doing this in the future.

And then there’s the most important question… how was the music itself?

This long-time headbanger is happy to proclaim that Metallica is back with a vengeance. 72 SEASONS is the band’s hardest and heaviest album in many, many years. In fact, it may just be their best work since 1991’s classic self-titled “Black Album.” From the opening riffs of the title cut, it’s clear the quartet is out for blood, taking no prisoners. The heaviest almost never lets up… and is there any greater praise for a metal album than that?

We get 12 killer tracks on 72 SEASONS, which give listeners a coherent listening experience, but one with tracks diverse enough that it never feels boring. “Screaming Suicide” hearkens back to the band’s early influences musically from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, of course with their own signature spin put on it. “Sleepwalk My Life Away” features a killer Rob Trujillo pounding away relentlessly on the bass, and a main riff that feels like this song could’ve just as easily been called “Enter Sandman Part 2.” The first-released track from the album was “Lex Aeterna” (sue me, I’m too lazy to go cut and paste that symbol that’s the A and the E fused together), which is speedy, heavy, and could very well be the album’s standout cut, once again hearkening back to the group’s roots while still becoming uniquely their own.

And this headbanger is pleased to report that the intensity doesn’t end there. My personal favorite track from the album is “Crown of Barbed Wire,” with riffs that sound like they wouldn’t have been out of place in a goth/industrial/alternative song, yet somehow Metallica makes these work, creating one of the most distinctive tracks of the release. The crunching riffs that open “If Darkness Had a Son” only further demonstrate how relentless the band is. James Hetfield gets to do one of his best and most powerful vocal performances on “Room of Mirrors,” backed by the obligatory heaviness. And it’s all closed out by the epic “Inamorata,” the longest song in the band’s catalogue to date, exceeding the ten-minute mark. Thankfully, the long track is never dull, starting with one of the record’s best riffs, and going to some very interesting places during the lengthy odyssey, including a midsection that’s the closest thing the record has to a ballad, though it thankfully doesn’t feel out of place.

72 SEASONS is a triumph and easily Metallica’s best work in 30 years. James, Lars, Kirk, and Rob are at the top of their game here, and longtime fans of the group shouldn’t be let down by what they hear. Absolute highest recommendations for the quartet’s latest studio album!

By Taylor T Carlson

Taylor T Carlson Assistant Editor/Senior Staff Writer Taylor T. Carlson was born August 17, 1984, and has called the Vegas Valley home his entire life. A die-hard fan of classic rock and metal music, Taylor has been writing album and concert reviews since he was 16 years old, and continues to do so, having done well over 1,000 reviews. He is also a fan of video gaming and cinema, and has reviewed a number of games and films as well, old and new alike. His thorough and honest (some would say brutally honest) reviewing style has won him the respect of hundreds of music fans and musicians alike, both local and abroad, and the ire of just as many others. Despite being one of the youngest attendees at classic hard rock/metal shows around Vegas, he is also one of the most knowledgeable, having gained the unofficial nickname of “The Eddie Trunk of Las Vegas.” In addition to reviews, Taylor has written and self-published three books on classic hard rock bands, and is a regular participant in rock and roll trivia contests. Taylor also holds a masters degree in special education from the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), and has appeared on the hit History Channel television series Pawn Stars. His dream is to be able to one day make a living from writing music books and reviews.

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