Those crafty guys in Metallica surprised me this week with a new song and have announced their new LP, entitled 72 Seasons, due out in April 2023. I keep a running list of upcoming albums in my head at all times – because I clearly have a problem – and early in 2022 I sort of took Metallica off that list. I had fully expected an album from them this year and I don’t really remember why I thought that. But then I read an interview with, I believe, lead guitarist Kirk Hammett where he said something along the lines of, “it would be impossible for Metallica to release an album any time soon.” I don’t know what the fascination is with these bands and acts wanting to surprise people with their album releases but kudos Metallica you caught me off guard!
Frankly I think I can attribute some of my surprise around this new Metallica song to the fact that I haven’t quite recovered from Thanksgiving yet. I got back from Colorado fully intending to focus completely on Neil Young’s new LP World Record. But then the sad, shocking news about Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac passing away hit me. That was on the heels of guitarist Wilko Johnson finally losing his battle with cancer… it was a heavy week. I found myself going through all my Fleetwood Mac records pulling up the Christine songs. She really was fabulous. I even came across her version of “I’d Rather Go Blind” from when she was still Christine Perfect and it’s sensational. Everyone should hear that track.
On the flip side of all of that for some reason now that the holidays are actually here for real – not just Christmas music firing up on Halloween, the holidays are really upon us now – I find myself turning more and more to harder rock n roll. ‘Tis the season to crank up the righteous metal, I guess. I’ve been returning to the Guns N Roses Use Your Illusions box set to crank the live stuff (and I wake up with “You Could Be Mine” in my head most mornings), then I head to Aerosmith’s mid-70s LPs, and then it’s Ozzy’s new LP from earlier this year, Patient Number 9. I guess I’ve never been the biggest Christmas person, one might call me a bit of a reformed Grinch… but this year I’m skipping the carols and heading straight for the hard stuff, musically speaking. So this new Metallica song, “Lux AEterna” (you’ll have to excuse me misspelling the title I don’t have a key on my keyboard with a merged A and E), fits in perfectly with my holiday rocking.
This new track “Lux AEterna” is heavy. If I ever go into cardiac arrest, throw this track on the stereo, crank it up and throw my body onto the speaker. It should revive me. Hell, it could revive my grandfather and he’s been gone over forty years. But before we get to heavily into “Lux AEterna,” let’s look back and see how it compares to some of their more recent first singles. I have to admit to being more of a dabbler into Metallica prior to Death Magnetic. I liked the Black Album as did most people. I had the added benefit of seeing them at Lollapalooza and they played a bunch of songs from that LP so I went out and bought it the day after. I kind of liked Load but didn’t get into Re-Load at all. Then they went into total collapse – long time bassist Jason Newsted left, singer/guitarist James Hetfield ended up in rehab, and then they reached their creative nadir with St Anger. I was frankly kind of done with Metallica. And then I heard “The Day That Never Comes” from Death Magnetic. Something about Metallica just clicked for me in that moment. I was in the car when I heard that song and immediately diverted to the record store. That album took Metallica back to their early style of music – long epic tracks, intense guitar solos, multiple time signature changes – and I loved it. It was also the first LP to feature new bassist Robert Trujillo, formerly of Ozzy’s band. “The Day That Never Comes” is an almost 8-minute tour de force. It’s in my not so humble opinion one of their best songs. After I heard that LP, I went back and purchased all four of Metallica’s first albums and have been a big fan ever since. Sometimes it takes something weird to flip the switch in my head. That’s a hard first single to compare other stuff to, it’s that momentous.
Then six years ago Metallica released “Hardwired” in anticipation of the LP Hardwired To Self Destruct. That was another awesome, heavy album. The track, “Hardwired” was one of the first things I reviewed for this blog. “Hardwired” was the opposite of “The Day That Never Comes.” It was hard and fast. It clocked in at only slightly over 3 minutes. It was so fast and hard it almost felt punk. Don’t get me wrong, I love the song, but it is a breakneck piece of rock n roll. The guitars snarl at you. Drummer Lars Ulrich hits the skins so hard you’d think he was mad at them. Although I have to admit with a chorus of “We’re so fucked, shit out of luck, hardwired to self destruct” the song seems a bit like self-fulfilling prophecy. Metallica always seems to deliver something special on those first singles.
“Lux AEterna” is definitely more in the “Hardwired” category. It is also a short track, only three-and-a-half minutes long. I really like this song. I played it for the Rock Chick and after declaring it “very heavy,” admitted it’s “very good Metallica.” I think Metallica plays as many notes on these short tunes as they do on the long, epic songs they just play the notes much, much faster. Hetfield’s frantic cry of “Lux AEterna” for the chorus sounds more like an anguished spirit calling out to the Gods than a metal singer. Kirk Hammett’s guitar solo is so unhinged it sounds like he’s about to lose control of his instrument half way through. One of the things that draws me to Metallica is the amazing drumming of Lars Ulrich. He is the engine and the engine is overhearing on “Lux Eterna.” This song sounds like a prize fighting champion working on the heavy bag… It is what every metal head out there needs to get them through a difficult holiday season. Here’s the track:
If you’re like me, a Metallica fan, or a fan of hard rock or heavy metal, put this track on for the holidays to drowned out Mariah Carey. My advice on this one is to turn it up as loud as it’ll go but beforehand secure all the fine china and glassware. It’s going to be a rocking spring with 72 Seasons.
Cheers and Devil Horns to all of you!!