Even after four decades of blistering rock, Metallica show no sign of taking their fists off the throttle. On ‘72 Seasons’, their forthcoming eleventh studio album (April 14) and first since 2016, the heavy metal icons deliver the sort of driving riffs, machine-gun drums and angst-ridden lyricism that prove age has not wearied them. The title, as gravel-voiced frontman James Hetfield has explained, is a reference to the formative first 18 years of life. That doesn’t mean the veteran band spent too much time worrying about recapturing their adolescent energy.
“I don’t know if there was a purposeful chasing of the fountain of youth,” drummer Lars Ulrich tells NME with an impish laugh, speaking down the line from his home in San Francisco. “I can tell you I’m pretty comfortable with being 59 years old, and I don’t particularly feel a need to try to pretend either to myself, or to the Metallica fans out there, that I’m any different.”
So while there are nods on ‘72 Seasons’ to the band’s storied past – lead single ‘Lux Æterna’ includes the lyric “full speed or nothin’,” a line which also appeared on their 1983 debut ‘Kill ’Em All’ – in general Metallica seem intent to use the wisdom of age to find fresh perspective on the trials of youth. “I think certainly in James’s lyrics, and overall in this band right now, we’re quite comfortable with who we are, warts and all,” says Ulrich. “We’re putting things out there about our vulnerabilities and where we’re at because we’re still trying to figure all this shit out. If you think when you’re young that at some point later you’ll crack the code then I can say that, in my case, that’s definitely not what happens. You may end up with more questions as you get older!”