JAMES HETFIELD Wanted To Call New METALLICA Album 'Lux Æterna' But Was Outvoted

April 10, 2023

In a new interview with the METALLICA fan-club magazine So What!, guitarist/vocalist James Hetfield spoke about the lyrical inspiration for the band's eleventh studio album, "72 Seasons", the title of which refers to the first 18 years of our lives that form our true or false selves. Asked how much of the "72 Seasons" concept was informed lyrically by his life as a child and how much of it was informed by his life as the parent of children, James said: "Well, '72 seasons' as a concept, that's been digested from somewhere else. Meaning it was a concept — it was the '72 seasons of sorrow,' and I dropped the 'sorrow' part off because the first 18 years of life aren't all sorrow. And we tend to just focus on that in our adult life, like, 'I need to fix all the shit that was wrong when I was a kid.' There was great stuff as well, so 72 seasons, everyone's got their version of what their 72 seasons were and what they mean to them now.

"Having kids definitely helps you understand your childhood and what your parents went through. More the latter. You know, me being a parent, like, 'Come on, guys, give me a break. I'm just a human.' But when you're a kid, you look up to your parents as gods. They can do no wrong, and whatever they say is what's supposed to be. Then, when you get older, you go, 'Man, I'm sorry I put you guys up on a pedestal, made you gods, and blamed you for this and that, or wished differently, but you were just humans too. You were doing your best, and you were working with the tools of your parents.' It goes back generationally, and as a parent, really, what I want to do is maybe do it a little better than my parents did. That's really what I want to ask of myself. There's an inheritance of whatever they brought… you inherit some of those things. There're some I need to work on, there're some I need to completely forget, and there're some I need to find. Everyone's had a childhood. Most people I've met have had a childhood. Whether it's good or bad, we can decide later on in life. You can't change your childhood, but you can change your concept of it and what it means to you now."

When interviewer Steffan Chirazi noted that the "72 Seasons" lyrics are just a further extension of James getting his dark side out, Hetfield said: "Well, it's interesting to contemplate, you know. 'Am I who I am just because of all that? Can I change? Can I not change? Am I capable of changing? Is this just ingrained, is it in the stars? I read my astrology thing for today, and this is just how it is?' I don't know. Nobody knows, and I certainly don't, either. I know the parts of me that I'd like to change take work, and it's hard work. But I've got awareness of it, and if there's some things I can't change, that's really not up to me as well. But the 'blame' part, blaming my parents for all of this and that and whatnot, it's got to stop. Because I have the capacity to make my own choices now. There's a lot of psychology in this, and I can overthink all of it, but at the end of the day, is it these 72 seasons that form your true or false identity? Am I able to change or not? That's a lifelong question."

James also talked about the "72 Seasons" visuals and the use of the yellow color in the entire packaging and aesthetic. He said: "Yellow, for me, is light. It is light. It's a source of goodness. So against the black, it really pops. It is light."

He continued: "My vision was I wanted this album [to be] called 'Lux Æterna' [which is also the title of the first single from the LP] because that summed up all the songs for me, kind of an eternal light that was always inside of us that maybe is just now coming out. And I was outvoted, which is great. '72 Seasons' is definitely more chewable. You get to figure out what it is. You get to dig into it and chew on it a little more. But that color came out of 'Lux Æterna'."

"72 Seasons" will be released April 14 via METALLICA's own Blackened Recordings. Produced by Greg Fidelman with Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich, and clocking in at over 77 minutes, the 12-track "72 Seasons" is METALLICA's first full-length collection of new material since 2016's "Hardwired…To Self-Destruct". The album will be released in formats, including 2LP 140g black vinyl and limited-edition variants, CD and digital.

METALLICA and Trafalgar Releasing will hold a worldwide "72 Seasons" listening party. For one night only on Thursday, April 13, "72 Seasons" will be played in full in surround sound, exclusively for cinema audiences worldwide — with every one of the new songs featuring its own music video and exclusive commentary from the band.

The "72 Seasons" global premiere sees METALLICA and Trafalgar joining forces once more, having previously worked together on the October 2019 worldwide cinematic release of "S&M²", which documented METALLICA and San Francisco Symphony reuniting to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their original "S&M" (Symphony & Metallica) concerts and releases.

In the seven years since the arrival of "Hardwired… To Self-Destruct", METALLICA has reissued some of its classic albums, released a second live album with the San Francisco Symphony, commissioned a covers album featuring the likes of GHOST, VOLBEAT, WEEZER, Corey Taylor and THE HU, and landed on the Billboard songs chart with "Master Of Puppets" after a prominent placement in the hit Netflix show "Stranger Things".

Photo credit: Tim Saccenti

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