Chicago Loves Metallica: How the Windy City Celebrated the Release of “72 Seasons”

By Justice Petersen

The author of this article now claims her most prized possession is an empty whiskey bottle – and it’s all Metallica’s fault.

On April 14 Metallica released their eleventh studio album 72 Seasons. Featuring 12 tracks full of groovy rage-fueled riffage, lyrics reaching new depths of emotional vulnerability, and Metallica’s longest song to date (“Inamorata” at just over 11 minutes), “72 Seasons” was well worth the wait. Fans all around the globe were captivated every single day leading up to the album’s release.

News of a brand new full-length studio album from the Bay Area thrash legends all started on Nov. 28, 2022, when Metallica announced on social media that they dropped a new single, “Lux Æterna,” and there was to be a new album as well as a massive two-year-long world tour. This is the first time in the band’s career that they dropped new music out of the blue. Right from the beginning, the entire music world lost their minds and excited fans were scrambling to recover from the bombshell that the group dropped.

Over the next few months, tour dates were announced, giveaways were held, tracklists were revealed and more singles were released – “Screaming Suicide,” “If Darkness Had A Son” and the title track – along with accompanying music videos.

The band also announced that the day before the album was to come out fans around the world could attend a global listening party in select theaters. Fans were able to watch somewhat of a Metallica movie, where each song was played with accompanying visualizers or music videos – some never seen before – as well as intros before each song where members of the band spoke on what each song was inspired by.

The listening party also began with an intro from the band, where they all introduced the album. As drummer Lars Ulrich says in the film, Metallica played with the “herd mentality” that he says their fans possess. The more events like this that Metallica is able to hold for their fans, the more fun we can all have, he says.

At this global cinematic premiere, Metallica also announced that their concerts on August 18 and 20 in Arlington, Texas will be live-streamed and available for people to see in theaters. Once again, Metallica fans will have the exclusive chance to see Metallica on the big screen and enjoy the music with other fans around the world through Trafalgar Releasing.

Additionally, Metallica has graced the studios of both Howard Stern and Jimmy Kimmel in the week leading up to the album’s release. For the whole week before its debut, Metallica was the featured musical guest on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” and they were interviewed by Kimmel to discuss the new album (when they weren’t putting on puppet shows for kids).

More fun was sure to be had for Metallica fans in the Windy City where Reckless Records, along with other independent record stores across the globe, were able to hold special events to celebrate the release of “72 Seasons.” At Reckless Records’ Wicker Park location, a midnight event was held where fans could listen to the new album, purchase the limited edition indie-exclusive colored vinyl and receive some free goods.

Metallica and Chicago have quite a history with each other. In 1981, Metallica played their infamous show at the Metro and didn’t return until 2021 for a surprise show to celebrate their 40 years as a band. Additionally, Metallica has headlined Lollapalooza several times throughout their career, including last year when they gave a fiery and enraged performance to thousands. Whether it’s 1981 or 2021, the group hasn’t faltered.

At this midnight event were several members of the Chicago chapter of Metallica’s official fan club. They helped Reckless Records put on a raffle where fans could put their name in a drawing and win exclusive t-shirts, posters, and more. The fan club donated an autographed bottle of BLACKENED American Whiskey signed by bassist Robert Trujillo, and one lucky fan in attendance was able to take it home. She’s pretty happy.

Employees at Reckless were kind enough to let those in attendance take home whatever posters or “72 Seasons” decor were hanging on the walls, and the overall atmosphere of the event was extremely chill and welcoming. There were fans who had followed Metallica since the 1980s, there were teenagers and there were even little kids present (but it was definitely past their bedtime).

As the clock struck 12, the long-anticipated album was released into the world. Being the first album of new material since their 2016 album Hardwired…to Self-Destruct, fans have long been waiting for something to be released by Metallica.

The album is named in reference to the number of seasons one experiences in the first 18 years of their life. As singer James Hetfield explains, this is the time in one’s life when one undergoes a lot of self-reflection and forms their identity. Sometimes these first 18 years haunt you, but ultimately they shape who you are for the rest of your life. Songs on the album discuss personal demons, mental health, and what may lead you into temptation if you aren’t cautious.

Metallica goes to new depths, both compositionally and lyrically, on 72 Seasons. Tracks such as “Sleepwalk My Life Away” and “Inamorata” are cinematic in their sound, and Hetfield goes more melodic with his greasy vocals. In terms of lyrics, this may be the most vulnerable we have ever seen Metallica. The band has always been poetic in their songwriting, just look at deep cuts like “To Live Is To Die” or “Fixxxer.” However, perhaps 72 Seasons is a continuation of heart-wrenching epics such as these; Metallica is finally conveying the words and riffs that they’ve had in the back of their minds, possibly even their hearts, for a long time.

Although the band first hinted at the workings of a new album during the COVID-19 pandemic, the album began long before this. Maybe it really started back in 1981.

While Hetfield has always written songs expressing rage and pain, take “Fade To Black” from “Ride the Lightning” (1984) for instance, he has expressed that vulnerability and truly sharing his heart with others was something he shied away from. With the new album, Hetfield says that this was the most collaborative the band has ever been. It was no longer just him and Ulrich, according to Hetfield. With this complete collaboration and encouragement from all corners of Metallica, they were able to create, arguably, one of the rawest and gut-wrenching full-length studio releases of their entire career.

With the ending track, “Inamorata,” Ulrich’s steady groove drumming is combined with Hetfield’s crunchy riffs and unrelenting singing of his love for his misery. Fuel that with Trujillo’s Black Sabbath-inspired bass lines that convey his passion so well and Kirk Hammett’s gorgeously distorted guitar solos and you have one of Metallica’s most tragically beautiful tracks to date. As you spin the record and the album comes to a close, the silence seems deafening.

For 72 Seasons, Metallica only proves that they are here to stick around. Still writing intricate old-school thrash songs like “Lux Æterna” and “Shadows Follow,” this album proves that the band isn’t slowing down any time soon. With recent live performances of songs featured on the album, fans are already getting a glimpse of what’s in store for the next two years.

What 72 Seasons tells listeners is that the hardship experienced in our youth is inevitable, and how we choose to face these hardships affects who we become for the rest of our lives. What Metallica tells listeners is that, in our strife, we are not alone. Nobody is too far gone, and there are people who are there to help you rise above your demons. For some, those people happen to be four kids from San Francisco. With the new album, Metallica shines an eternal light serving as a beacon of hope and passion that fans will emulate for years to come.

Metallica’s new album 72 Seasons is available now on all digital streaming platforms.

Catch Metallica on their M72 World Tour here.

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