Metallica has had an interesting journey through the world of music. From their Thrash Metal 1980s heyday to 1991’s blockbuster self-titled album (also known as the Black album) and through to their unmistakable low that was 2003’s St. Anger, they have made a bunch of different songs that reflect the ever changing need in the world of music to survive, or at least sound different. This is their latest release at the time of writing and has had some good sounding single releases from it prior to this album’s release. Which means it should be interesting listening. Let’s hear if the legends that are Metallica can still cut a good LP record, many years after they began.

72 Seasons is a lengthy epic at seven and a half minutes long. It begins with driving basslines, pounding drums and excellent guitar riffs. It sounds quite good from the start, although to be fair, this is not as promising sounding as Master Of Puppets or …And Justice For All was. It quickly launches into a good Thrash Metal number to listen to. The riffs present are okay, but all in all, nothing spectacular. This is closer to Load or ReLoad territory than one would think, in terms of musical quality at least. James Hetfield sings well for a bloke his age and sings about dark concepts of the soul, as he knows very well himself. Already, this doesn’t sound as good as early Metallica material, but it’s okay to listen to. The speed, pace and precision of this tune are not to be underestimated, however. Kirk Hammett plays a nice guitar solo with a load of wah-wah here, just before James gets singing again. The midsection sounds decent, and this music is good, but sadly not that good. The second half has some muted riffing and this still isn’t that impressive, unfortunately. The next section of the song arrives, just before Kirk Hammett rips into another blistering solo. Already, it sounds like Kirk is the driving force behind this album. After all, he is a great guitarist. Both Lars Ulrich and Robert Trujillo make a tight rhythm section impressionable. Still, this is not Metallica at its best. Seemingly, it took them too long to deliver this album, and despite the fact that they are musical legends, this is not their shining moment. This could have been edited, and unfortunately, isn’t. Okay to hear regardless. The riffing right at the end is insane.

Shadows Follow begins with some unusual and synchronised guitars and drums before this begins to launch into a good groove and a better tune than the previous one. Again, this sounds okay, but Metallica has done better than this, sadly. It seems that the band aren’t really making music for the sake of good music, and instead more as something that is routine by this point. James’s voice sounds rather shredded here, he has had better days as a singer, but then again, the bloke is probably near retirement. A good song, but this seems to lack passion and is more or less a formulaic exercise musically. The midsection is cool, with some good guitar riffs and pounding drums, but nothing special is here. This is Metallica making music without a grand plan, unlike their earlier 1980s works. Seemingly, they have forgotten all about that. Another decent guitar solo emerges, which sounds well played and interesting. It seems like Kirk Hammett’s chops are still legitimately great. All in all, this is okay music, but pretty meh and it sounds already like Metallica knows that their efforts today are largely wasted. Nice try, but this is really underwhelming musically, sadly. It ends after six minutes, too long for many people to enjoy this music as well.

Screaming Suicide is a poor attempt at irony in a song title, given that this is an anti-suicide song. It begins with some wah-wah guitars and interesting guitar fills, launching into a cool groove and a song that sounds a lot better than what has come before. Still, this is a good listening experience without being a great one, but it is a definite improvement on the first two songs. James Hetfield sings about the nature of suicidal thoughts and actions, which isn’t exactly light listening, but it does sound interesting. This is a shorter piece, but still, it’s over five minutes long. In other words, if you are not a huge fan of Metallica, patience is required here. This launches into a dramatic guitar solo section in the second half of the song which sounds really mental. James sings quite well here, and he and Kirk switch roles as the front and centre sounds in Metallica. There is a good riff section towards the end that sounds good before James gets singing again. “Keep me inside…screaming suicide!” is sung here. Not exactly a nice topic, even for a group like Metallica to cover. Good but not great.

Sleepwalk My Life Away begins with a heavy bass guitar and drum led groove before guitars enter. This sounds a little more promising than one has come to accept from Metallica on this album. It’s okay but definitely could have been edited down somewhat length wise. The riff throughout is quite good, but this album already sounds like somewhat of a lost cause: making music with no agenda. James Hetfield gets singing, once again, and he sounds like a madman on fire. This is Metallica attempting to make a more Pop oriented piece of music here, with mixed results. Undeniably, Metallica can sing and play very well. It’s just the material on this album is lacking. It is very likely Metallica will never make a great album again, and they have long left their best days behind them by this point. Regardless, this is okay, but it is a disappointing listen, just like the songs before it. It is very difficult for one to sink some time, effort and energy into listening to this music from start to finish. Kirk Hammett plays a good guitar solo and shreds away very nicely on this album in general. Still, this is quite a drag to listen to. The riff section quickly returns, and this tune continues to drag along, for want of a better description for this song. In other words, this is fairly ordinary music, sadly. Metallica could have at least edited these songs a bit, they are still far too long and repetitive sounding to be truly enjoyed. Towards the end are loud guitars and some interesting drum fills from Lars Ulrich, before this concludes with sustained chords. Fairly ordinary.

You Must Burn! is another super long piece, over seven minutes long. Again, this is far too long for this album. The guitar riffs at the start of this are a definite improvement, but they still, lack energy or enthusiasm. Sadly, this music is seemingly pushed out needlessly to appease either their audience, record company executives or both. It’s good music to hear, and it sounds powerful indeed. A strange and odd piece of music lyrically, and repetitive musically, this is not the comeback album that Metallica fans desperately need. Besides, it took them seven years to make this? It is quite disappointing musically to be fair. In the middle are some interesting tempo and rhythm changes, but again, this is a bit of a drag to listen to. This unfortunately really needs editing and it seems that Metallica adds more repeated riffs and structures just for the sake of it. Kirk Hammett’s guitar solo present is really amazing, however, and sounds a lot like something from Kill ‘Em All, Metallica’s debut album. Still, this does needlessly drag on. Which isn’t good. Annoying after a while, this wears out its welcome fairly easily. Not inspired, nor that good. A bit of a failure here.

Lux Æterna is, fortunately, short. It begins with some good riffs, pounding double kick drum based percussion and launches into a better piece of music than what has come before it. It’s thrashy and fast, but still makes some good sense being on this album. If only the rest of the album had been just like this. Still, a good tune that is close as Metallica get to Pop music these days. In the middle is another blistering guitar solo by Kirk Hammett, who plays like a maniac. Nonetheless, this three minute song is really good for what it is. No wonder it was released as a single. A powerful piece of music from start to finish.

Crown Of Barbed Wire may refer to the legacy of Jesus himself. The intro is fantastic, a good mesh of bass guitars and drum led groove, with some interesting guitar parts over the top of it all. Again, this is good but requires some editing. It seems like Metallica has found a way to annoy their listeners, by making albums as long as Oasis’s Be Here Now. Still, this is a good effort but just not anywhere near a great one. A strange tune for a big group like Metallica to perform, if indeed this is about Jesus, it is okay but not perfect by any means. The music present is rather horrid to listen to, and although there are moments to listen to here, this is not that good. Surely James and Lars would have thought twice about making such long and repetitive songs? The second half has a call-and-response alternation between the guitars and drums, which is cool and much needed to vary this tune. An awesome shred guitar solo by Kirk Hammett saves the day here, but still, his wah-wah laden and fast playing does not save this song totally. Nonetheless, this is okay, but not great. It’s just too long and mediocre to get into. Very uninspired music. The ending is much needed from this repetitive tune.

Chasing Light begins with James Hetfield screaming, “There’s no light!” quickly followed by chugging guitar parts. This launches into a good tune with a better set of riffs than the previous tune. The song comes alive with a good riff section before drums enter and we are underway here. This does sound like an improvement on some of the songs before it. However, it is still a rather dull and lengthy listen throughout. James Hetfield strains his voice with some high end vocal delivery here, and the rest of the band plays at a manic pace. This album lacks appeal to those who aren’t total Metalheads out there, and songs like these do seem like a real drag to listen to. The structure of this song is simple, heavy and repetitive, just like everything else on this album. In the second half is a guitar riff breakdown, followed by more good singing and playing by James Hetfield. Kirk Hammett eventually gets his shred on and proves how underestimated he is as a guitarist extraordinaire. The rest of the band play catch up with him, and the tune present is a cool listen. Still, this needs some editing for length’s sake. Too long and too dull for Metal, this seriously needs a good few minutes chopped off it here. The outro is quite good, and Metallica plays furiously in the outro before this finishes abruptly.

If Darkness Had A Son begins with some excellent kick beat and snare rolls from Lars Ulrich, before launching into a good tune that runs over six minutes long. Really, do these songs need to be so lengthy? Perhaps not. Regardless, this is okay, just more of the same from the once great Metallica. The sounds here are quite good, though and James Hetfield roars with his vocals away nicely. A good listen, but nothing overly special here to enjoy, this isn’t the return to form that Metallica desperately needs to do. Sure, they have had their fair share of troubles over the years. Still, it is now 2023 and this mighty group can do much better than this music here. This is musical Metal drivel, being overly repetitive and needlessly worth hearing in that respect. This is one of their singles as well. It just falls flat. Kirk enters to attempt to save the day here with his wah-wah shred but does little to change this tune and how it sounds. This whole album is a missed opportunity for listening, and it seems that Metallica returned back to their days of Load and ReLoad by making a super lengthy and repetitive album to hear. Good, but definitely not great. This fails to inspire. The outro is quite repetitive as well. A musical drag.

Too Far Gone? is a slightly shorter piece of music at four and a half minutes long, which is nice for a change. With some uninspired riffs and playing, Metallica proves that this album needs a good edit by this point, given the length of this song. James Hetfield sings about his own demons, remember that this guy is in and out of rehab fairly often these days. Regardless, a piece of music that is benefitted from being shorter and sounds more concise as a result. The rhythm and melodies are really excellent, and this tune is okay overall. Metallica really should not allow quality control to be lost in the mix. They had quality control in the past, but nowadays, this is seemingly gone. A good shred guitar solo from Kirk Hammett enters here, and this song sounds really awesome. A good, if lazy sounding musical journey. Nice to hear anyway. The outro is riff heavy.

Room Of Mirrors is a bit longer and from the start, it doesn’t sound great. That is likely why this is towards the end of the album. There is nothing really magical or special musically here, and this is quite poor. In fact, this should have been ditched from this album. This is quite rubbish, and again, goes on for too long at over five minutes in length. James Hetfield sings about his dark side, and he sings about his own troubles. Which is a bit silly, really, more of the same. Still, this is barely okay, and it does not sound like something that many will enjoy. It’s not anywhere near as awful as St. Anger was, but still, Metallica does not seem to care about the music anymore that they make anymore. Which is sad. Kirk Hammett plays a great guitar solo, but again, this does little to help this album. Lars’s drumming is better than usual here, and he plays with fury in the second half here. A good listening experience but far away from being great, the repetitive nature of this music does not really help. Anyway, you can skip this if you wish. Rather abysmal.

Inamorata is the final track and is over 11 minutes long. Seriously. Not good enough, it sounds awful from the start here. Some dirge like guitar riffs enter and this tune gets underway fairly quickly. A very bland and uninspired listen, goodness knows why on earth Metallica added such a song onto this album. It just makes zero sense. Quite possibly the least focused main album that Metallica have made since St. Anger, this is stupidly bad. Metallica’s ability to make what its audience really craves is chucked out the window here. The music present is just dull. This is not the comeback album that Metallica really need to deliver, it sounds really ordinary. About restrained sexual desire, this is a strange tune of male sexual pride that isn’t exactly normal or acceptable Metallica lyrical territory. There is a very Black Sabbath sounding set of riffs towards the middle of this song, with Kirk Hammett playing some rather heavy wah-wah guitars here. Soon enough, in the middle is a breakdown with Robert Trujillo and Lars Ulrich playing alone with each other. The song really should stop here, but it doesn’t. Regardless, this tune builds up some suspense and actually sounds quite interesting here, at last. Pounding drum rolls follow James and Kirk’s solo section before the band plays together as one. Again, this isn’t overly inspired. It just sounds like a musical exercise here. One wishes that Metallica got their act together and actually made a classic album, rather than this repetitive music. It’s okay but seriously needs some editing here. A waste of time to listen to this album, hit the stop button and go and do something else for a change. James’s voice has seen better days than here, and the music is lazy, uninspired and lacking. Towards the end are more guitar riffs galore, and James sings repeatedly over the top of it all. At this point, one can write Metallica off as relevant today. They aren’t anymore. Not even Kirk Hammett’s soloing towards the end saves this mediocre tune from being binned. The outro is kind of cool but still, this is 11 minutes of junk listening. Not good enough. It ends with some unnecessary studio chatter.

This is not good enough for Metallica. Seven years between albums, only to hear this awful trite, is a real disappointment in musical history. Metallica was amazing in the 1980s, but seemingly their best days are well and truly behind them now. Nothing can reverse this trend. Given the fact that the group are ageing rapidly and are no longer cutting edge musically, this album is an unsurprising listen that sounds too repetitive. Metallica can and must do better than this. Not worth hearing.

A very real disappointment.