72 Seasons
Metallica: Robert Trujillo, Lars Ulrich, James Hetfield, and Kirk Hammett.

Metallica’s 11th album is a blast from the band’s hard-charging past, and does not disappoint. As the follow-up to 2016’s Hardwired… to Self-Destruct, drummer Lars Ulrich, guitarist Kirk Hammett, frontman/guitarist James Hetfield, and bassist Robert Trujillo get brutal for 77 minutes of bone-shattering riffs and teeth-rattling beats.

“If it’s too loud, you’re too old,” as the saying goes, and Metallica’s maturity adds depth to an album saturated with rhythmic muscularity. Hetfield’s personal drama adds napalm to angst-fueled vocals and hellacious lyrics, driving Hammett to the precipice of pentatonic dominance like on “If Darkness Had A Son.”

“Sleepwalk My Life Away” begins with an addictive groove that seduces, then bludgeons with the kind of riffs and catchy choruses that made Metallica legends. Hammett’s thick guitar tones and fiery solos get an assist from the recording talents of co-producer Greg Fidelman. Hammett digs deep, repurposing blues-rock guitar tropes then releasing them back into the wild with a bloody nose.

With no ballads in sight, guitars are pushed to their limits, like on the smoldering 11-minute slow-jam “Inamorata.” Check out Hammett’s bad-assery on the solo to “Chasing Light” and “Crown of Barbed Wire.” Oh, and yes, there’s plenty of wah.

This article originally appeared in VG’s July 2023 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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