Metallica’s 11th album. 72 Seasons, is set to be one of the biggest albums of 2023 – indeed, surely the biggest heavy metal album of the last few years. The follow-up to 2016’s Hardwired… To Self-Destruct was announced late last year with thrash-fuelled single Lux Æterna, plus details of a two-year world tour. The band then released a follow-up single, Screaming Suicide, soon followed by a third track from the album, If Darkness Had a Son.
But what are the essential details you need to know about the new Metallica album? There’s a lot to take in, so we’ve distilled the very essence of this historic release into its constituent parts.
Metallica’s follow-up to 2016’s Hardwired… To Self-Destruct will be titled 72 Seasons. Produced by Greg Fidelman with James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich at the band’s own studio in San Rafael.
The title is derived from on the premise that the first 18 years of a human’s life will shape and inform our behaviours and personality type.
“72 seasons… The concept that we were told ‘who we are’ by our parents,” says frontman Hetfield. “A possible pigeonholing around what kind of personality we are. I think the most interesting part of this is the continued study of those core beliefs and how it affects our perception of the world today. Much of our adult experience is reenactment or reaction to these childhood experiences. Prisoners of childhood or breaking free of those bondages we carry.”
72 Seasons will be released on April 14, 2023. It will be the second album to be released through their own Blackened label, following Hardwired…To Self-Destruct.
Three singles have been released from the album, speed-metal anthem Lux Æterna and lengthier, up-tempo rocker Screaming Suicide and brooding, imperious third single, If Darkness Had A Son. With the better part of two months to go until the album lands, however, the possibility of more music being released in advance remains high.
Lux Æterna has firm roots in the sound of their debut album, Kill ‘Em All – which turns 40 in 2023, coincidentally – and its verses are constructed around precise, breakneck riffing and Lars’ a-little-louder-than-necessary drum mix. In short, it’s the sort of thrash anthem that Stranger Things hero Eddie Munson would drive recklessly to.
The second single, Screaming Suicide, also has roots in the 80s thrash scene, though it sounds like a more mature update, skewing closer to recent albums Death Magnetic and Hardwired… To Self-Destruct. If Darkness Had A Son is a very different beast, with a marching, almost militaristic tempo for much of the song. All in all, then, 72 Seasons looks set to be a very diverse affair.
What is Lux Æterna about?
As for a deep-dive into the song lyrics, we’d have to ask Mr. Hetfield. But there’s a sense of seizing the moment – perhaps recklessly – with the repeated line, ‘full speed or nothing’ and a cheeky nod to Diamond Head’s 1979 album Lightning To The Nations. But what about the title Lux Æterna? Didn’t he sing for The Cramps? No, it’s Latin for ‘eternal light’. it’s Latin. You ought to have a basic grasp of Latin if you’re going to listen to Metallica’s new stuff.
The title itself forms part of a Roman Catholic requiem mass, and if you search on your streaming service providers, you’ll see the song title appear in Clint Mansell and Kronos Quartet’s score for Darren Aronofsky’s 2000 bleak drama Requiem For A Dream. Now Clint Mansell fans will see Metallica’s bright 72 Seasons artwork feature in the search results.
What is Screaming Suicide about?
The song begins with the line: ‘Welcome to this life/Born into the fight’ and goes on to describe a protagonist who appears to be struggling with the pressues of life: ‘Curse another day/Spirit locked away/Punish and deprive/Hate to be awake.’
The song’s key lines are: ‘Don’t ever speak my name/Remember you’re to blame’, which appears to reference the title Screaming Suicide. According to the band: “‘Screaming Suicide’ addresses the taboo word of suicide. The intention is to communicate about the darkness we feel inside. It’s ridiculous to think we should deny that we have these thoughts. At one point or another, I believe most people have thought about it. To face it is to speak the unspoken. If it’s a human experience, we should be able to talk about it. You are not alone.”
What is If Darkness Had A Son about?
Featuring some of the darkest and most hellish imagery of any lyrics from the new album thus far, If Darkness Had A Son leans heavily on themes of temptation and desire. A pointer to the addiction issues that have plagued James Hetfield over the years? Possibly, but this lyric in particular…
Return again to where it’s darkest
Dragging home this heathen harvest
And all the children subjugated
…suggests Papa Het may be reaching to broader themes.
The attention-grabbing 72 Seasons imagery was created by designer David Turner and his team at Turner Duckworth, who have studios in London, New York and San Francisco. Turner won an Grammy Award for Death Magnetic’s packaging and worked with the band on their subsequent releases: Through The Never, S&M2, and Hardwired… To Self-Destruct.
And then, of course, there’s the creepy mannequin-themed artwork for Lulu, the band’s 2011 collaboration with Lou Reed. Even though the album artwork is bold and unfussy, there’s a lot to take in. As James said earlier, the album title refers to a human’s formative years. A charred cot occupies the centre of the image and is surrounded by fire-damaged detritus of a pre-adult life: soft toys, a tricycle, wooden toys, a guitar, a baseball bat and a pile of empty cans.
What is 72 Seasons’ tracklist?
72 Seasons has 12 songs, and at the time of posting, only Lux Æterna has been made available. Despite the brevity of their lead single – a short and sweet 3 minutes 26 seconds – the new album will clock in at around the 77-minute mark. Here’s the confirmed track-list:
1. 72 Seasons
2. Shadows Follow
3. Screaming Suicide
4. Sleepwalk My Life Away
5. You Must Burn!
6. Lux Æterna
7. Crown of Barbed Wire
8. Chasing Light
9. If Darkness Had a Son
10. Too Far Gone?
11. Room of Mirrors
Where can I listen to 72 Seasons?
Pre-orders are live on the Metallica website, although that nice yellow-and-black splatter vinyl is already sold out. There’s also a smokey black variant, and a indie store violet vinyl exclusive. There’s also a limited edition 72 Seasons t-shirt, which is only available until December 1 at 7 AM PST.