Few bands face higher expectations from their own fanbase than Metallica. One could argue it comes with the territory of being one of the most popular long-running musical acts in the world. Perhaps consumer entitlement has set in: “We’ve been invested for decades, so give us what we want.”
Whatever the case, the Metallica faithful can be downright harsh — the backlash targeted at the Lou Reed collab album Lulu or even 2003’s St. Anger have been prime examples. Even bassist Robert Trujillo admitted that the fans can be a bit opinionated.
“They’re the best fans in the world, in my opinion,” he told Consequence in our recent cover story interview. “But they love us so much that they get pissed off at us when we try different things.”
Much of that tumult has calmed in recent years after Metallica steered their artistic direction away from the alternative metal sound that culminated with St. Anger and returned to playing the good ol’ fashioned thrash metal they helped pioneer. This could be heard on 2016’s Hardwired… to Self-Destruct — the rawest bash-it-out thrash from Metallica since the ’80s. There was a “return to the garage” air about the recordings that was refreshing after the somewhat over-cooked production and arrangements on St. Anger and Death Magnetic.
As the years passed following the release of Hardwired, anticipation began to build for its follow-up — and with it, questions of what a new album would sound like. Looking toward setlists of prominent concerts that happened in the meantime — the S&M2 performances, for example — Metallica were leaning heavily on the songs of their past and particularly those from their legendary run of albums beginning with Kill ‘Em All through “The Black Album.” In other words, the classics.
Imagine Metallica writing an album after endlessly rehearsing songs like “The Four Horsemen,” “Creeping Death,” and “Wherever I May Roam” and then you’ll have a solid context for 72 Seasons, their new studio album. To answer the previous question, they stay firmly in their thrash-metal wheelhouse, building off what worked best on Hardwired: long songs with copious riffs. Again the LP hits 77 minutes in duration, with seven of the 11 tracks clocking in at over six minutes.