Metallica returns with '72 Seasons'

Zoom has been credited for keeping students and teachers connected, the judicial system working and fitness classes jumping. You can add a Metallica album to that list.

The hard rockers met weekly over their computers to stay connected during the pandemic, a standing get-together that eventually became a songwriting factory. The first step was an acoustic version of their song "Blackened."

"It proved to us that, yes, we can at least do something remotely while we're all still separated," says guitarist Kirk Hammett. "That grew into trying to get riffs together for the new album though Zoom."

Six or seven of those song sketches ended up on "72 Seasons," the band's 12th full-length album, out today. It's the sound of a band not slowing down, despite singer and rhythm guitarist James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich turning 60 this year and Hammett already on the other side of that milestone. Bassist Robert Trujillo is the baby, at just 58.

"It ended up working really fantastic," says Hetfield. "I know what we do. I know what we do best. I know what we've done before. But there's also an artist in me that wants to keep evolving and trying to do different stuff."

The title refers to the first 18 years of a person's life and the album explores the cruelty of youth and the dangers of growing up.

"I wish I knew then what I know now - you can take that sentence, and apply it to the whole concept of this album," says Hammett. "It's a real provocative sort of concept that's somewhat challenging and somewhat introspective."

Noteworthy is "Screaming Suicide," with a nasty inner voice taunting the singer. While far from the first time the band has tackled the issue, this time Hetfield drives into it, singing "Don't ever speak my...

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