Rod Liddle Rod Liddle

Shiny, smooth heavy metal for white incels: Metallica’s 72 Seasons reviewed

James Hetfield seems to be singing pretty much the same melody on seven or eight of the tracks

Grade: B–

Chugga-chugga, grawch, chugga-chugga. Never mind 72 seasons, it’s actually been a little over 500 seasons since Metallica first started bestowing their peculiarly Los Angeles brand of heavy metal – shiny, taut and smooth – on a grateful audience of dispossessed lower-middle-class white incels. And nothing very much has changed. They have got better, if by better we mean that they are now astonishingly tight, anchored by the literal, almost militaristic drumming of Lars Ulrich. You would think that after 42 years they might have come up with a riff that really sticks in the mind, if only perhaps by accident, like that chimp at the typewriter. But nope. This album is a profusion of guitar riffs, each piled on top of the other, and none of them touches the sides, sadly.

We have the usual vainglorious or portentous titles – ‘Screaming Suicide’, ‘You Must Burn!’, ‘Shadows Follow’, ‘If Darkness Had a Son’. On the first of these singer James Hetfield informs us that his name is Suicide, although as he’s approaching his 60th birthday, he’s leaving it a bit late, frankly, but I was thankful for the wah-wah guitar that graces the track: any variation, no matter how minor, is welcome on a Metallica album. Hetfield seems to be singing pretty much the same melody on seven or eight of the tracks, if that strange theatrical bellowing unique to heavy metal could be called singing. The riffs pile up in jagged profusion, as if to advertise their disposability and all of the songs outstay their welcome by three or four minutes. Only ‘Lux Aeterna’ made me prick my ears up, although not for long enough to discover what the hell he was going on about

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