New Song Alert: Metallica, “Lux AEterna,” + Announcement On New LP – We Compare “Lux” To Recent First Singles

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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!!

Review: Ozzy Osbourne, ‘Patient Number 9’ – Glorious Metal LP Packed With An All-Star Band

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“It’s one of those days that I don’t believe in Jesus…” – Ozzy Osbourne, “One of Those Days”

I can’t tell you how good it feels to have a new Ozzy album out in the world. It’s like having your favorite, cool uncle who used to slip you beers at wedding receptions in town for a long visit. Ozzy went a decade between 2010’s Scream and his next album 2020’s surprise comeback LP Ordinary Man. We loved Ordinary Man here at B&V. But then we’ve been an Ozzy fan from the start. Well, almost from the start. I merely taped a friend’s copy of Blizzard of Ozz. At the time I was actually more into the Dio incarnation of Sabbath but there’s room for both in any record collection. My first Ozzy album purchase was actually Diary Of A Madman, his second LP. I had to wait until I was in college to finally see Ozzy live on the Ultimate Sin tour in Wichita. Jake E. Lee was his latest guitar wizard in 1986 and it was a great show.

Rather than waiting a decade for another album, apparently only four days after Ordinary Man came out, Ozzy grabbed producer/guitarist Andrew Watt and headed back into the studio to record the follow-up. I really like Andrew Watt as a producer. Besides Ozzy he also produced the fabulous Eddie Vedder solo LP, Earthling. The strategy on this LP was very similar to the last album – recruit top notch players and rock out. Much is being made about the all-star cast of guitarists who play on this album, but there are great musicians on every instrument here. While Chad Smith mans the drum kit for most of the songs on Patient Number 9, like he did on Ordinary Man, there are a few tracks where the late Taylor Hawkins drums. It makes me wonder if these songs were Hawkins’ last recorded tunes? Metallica’s Robert Trujillo, who actually played in Ozzy’s band before joining Metallica, plays bass on most of the tracks. But, Duff McKagan from Guns N Roses mans the bass on several of the tracks. And former Jane’s Addiction bassist Chris Chaney plays on “Nothing Feels Right.”

When you have a bunch of guest stars playing on an album I always wonder about continuity. Will the songs hang together well as an album? Recently Edgar Winter did a fabulous tribute album for his brother Johnny, creatively titled Brother Johnny. There was a host of guitarists who showed up to pay tribute to the late, great bluesman. I felt the album, reviewed in these pages, held together well because all the tunes were in a blues framework. I think despite all the guest appearances Patient Number 9 holds together so well as an album because a) it’s all in a heavy metal framework which keeps everyone rocking in the same direction and b) the base band for this album: Andrew Watt/guitar, Robert Trujillo/bass, and Chad Smith drums – who all play on a majority of the tunes – hold the continuity together from Eric Clapton to Metal Viking Zakk Wylde. It doesn’t matter who plays lead guitar, they have to play with the band. Everybody, including Ozzy, plays with enthusiasm and gusto. Despite some heavy themes you can feel the joy coming off this album.

It’s clear Ozzy has mortality on his mind. With titles like “Dead And Gone,” “Immortal” and “Mr. Darkness” it’s not hard to figure out where Ozzy’s head is at. But in the years since Ordinary Man the Ozzman has “been through hell.” He was diagnosed with Parkinsons. He got Covid. It’s a wonder he got this album out. While I doubt he’ll ever tour extensively again I think having this wonderful metal LP is a blessing. I can understand after all he’s been through why Ozzy sings, as I quoted above, about it being “One of those days that I don’t believe in Jesus.” I think we’ve all had those moments when we feel abandoned by Fate. I will say, and it was the Rock Chick who noticed this first, Ozzy’s voice does sound a bit treated on this album. It’s auto-tuned in quite a few places. But hey, it’s Ozzy I can forgive that. And again, you can tell everyone including Ozzy had so much fun on this project the heaviness doesn’t get to you.

I just love this album. If push came to shove I’d probably admit I liked Ordinary Man just a smidge more but that’s mostly because it’d been 10 freakin’ years since we’d heard from Ozzy and it was such a pleasant surprise. There is a lot to like here. As promised it’s a smorgasbord of guitarists. Ozzy managed to get two of the three former Yardbird guitarists to play on this record. Jimmy Page was approached and declined but I don’t think Jimmy plays that much any more which is a shame. Mercurial Jeff Beck plays lead on two of my favorite tracks here. I love the title track which features Beck’s fabulous solo’ing but I reviewed “Patient Number 9” already. Beck also plays on the power ballad “A Thousand Shades” and his playing is so melodic it’s one of the absolute highlights of the LP. Jeff Beck needs to rock out more. I was stunned when I read Clapton agreed to play on this album. He shows up on “One Of Those Days,” quoted above. I don’t know how they did it but Clapton plays like he’s still in Cream. It’s a great solo and perhaps the best solo Clapton has played since he guested on the Steve Winwood tune “Dirty City.” (Seriously, check that tune out).

While much has been made of Ozzy getting the former Yardbirds to play on this record for me two of the best moments on this album are when Ozzy teams up with his erstwhile bandmate from Black Sabbath, Tony Iommi. Those two go together like peanut butter (a substance I was forced to give up) and jelly. “Degradation Rules,” reviewed previously, an ode to masturbation – although I can’t decide if it’s pro or con – is a wonderful, sludgy metal tune and sounds like an outtake from Masters of Reality. Iommi’s guitar is unmistakable. Ozzy even plays some harmonica on the track, which I love. The other Iommi track is the epic “No Escape From Now.” It starts off like the spooky “Planet Caravan” from Paranoid but then the band shifts through several time changes. They go fast, they slow down. Then the band falls away and Iommi drops some of the heaviest riffage I’ve heard since Vol 4. His solo’ing on this song is so epic and beautiful it belongs in an opera.

Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready shows up on the heavy track “Immortal.” His solo verges on Eddie Van Halen territory. Many notes are shredded. It’s wonderful. He really acquits himself well here. Dave Navarro of Janes Addiction (and briefly the Red Hot Chili Peppers) shows up on the other power ballad here “God Only Knows” and it’s actually one of my favorite tracks. There’s a track on here that doesn’t credit any lead guitarist, “Dead And Gone” that is also an absolute highlight. It takes me back to “Shot In The Dark” just a bit. I’m guessing Andrew Watt saved that solo for himself. Although I’ve heard that Josh Homme from the Queens of the Stone Age played on here somewhere – I can’t find him in the credits – and maybe it’s him. All of these are great moments.

Ozzy’s longest tenured guitarist Zakk Wylde shows up on more tunes than any other guest guitarist. The guy is just a Heavy Metal Viking. He’s got to be a  head taller than Ozzy. I saw them together on the Black Rain tour and it sounded like an airplane landing in the arena. My favorite of the Zakk tunes is probably “Evil Shuffle.” That’s pretty much how the Rock Chick sees me walking through the house – with my evil shuffle. Its a typical, HEAVY Zakk tune. “Mr. Darkness” about an obsessed fan “stanning” over Ozzy is another Zakk highlight. “Nothing Feels Right” which was released as the third single could be seen as Ozzy giving us the state of his health over Zakk’s soaring guitar. It’s all great stuff.

If I had any complaint about this record – and I don’t really – it’s that it feels a little longer than the sixty minute running time. They likely could have edited a few things out. There’s a little bluesy throwaway at the end, “Darkside Blues,” where Ozzy again plays harmonica that they could have cut. It’s only a minute and a half long. Although I kind of wish they’d fleshed that out into an actual tune because well, I love the blues. They could have cut the “scary monster, b-movie, horror film” intro on the title track. And they likely could have cut one of the four Zakk tracks to streamline this thing a little bit. But again, complaining about too much Ozzy on an album is like complaining about too much money in your checking account.

This is a great album and a wonderful celebration of the man, the myth, Ozzy Osbourne. The Ozzy comeback or renaissance continues strong on Patient Number 9. I’ll probably spend most of my weekend up in the B&V lounge cranking this metal mayhem up to 11 and spilling Woodford Reserve on the carpet. This one is a must have for all you hard rockers out there. Enjoy this one at max volume!

Cheers!