Metallica World Wide Listening Party – A Cinematic Play-By-Play
Album releases have been a fairly common affair in the wake of Covid. Any musician with access to recording equipment during that period got busy during those two years, given that there was little else they could do. As a result, last year’s release count could easily rival that of the previous 2-3 years combined. But this is no ordinary release day. This is new Metallica album day.
Celebrations are kicking off worldwide as listening and release parties are taking place in theatres and record store across the globe on the eve of the latest release by the biggest metal band on the planet. One such party is happening up the road from me, so I get in my trusty Bogan-mobile and set up camp at Rouse Hill Reading Theatre.
The lady that guides us to theatre 4 says “wow, there’s a lot more people coming than I anticipated. This is great.” Might be time to hold more of these events perhaps. In gold class perhaps.
I get inside and it’s a generational affair. Parents are here with their kids, some even wearing matching “Metallica: Admit One” jackets. I dodge the popcorn line for fear of missing the start but it’s been a while since I’ve been to the theatre and forgot that this lot love their ads.
The big Dolby speaker blowout thing starts and a big Metallica logo pops up. Not to be outdone by the theatre, Metallica puts up ads of their own. A QR code links us to buy merch along with an ad for their live tour which, at the moment, doesn’t include us.
The 4 lads appear on the screen and it’s just a series of bloopers where they hang shit on Lars. It’s bizarre because this band has more access to audio equipment than any other group on the planet, yet has managed to find themselves on a couch eating popcorn, sharing a single clip-on-mic that’s been attached to the collar of Lars and Lars alone. The even stranger thing is that Ulrich doesn’t know what to say. The mouth of Metallica is lost for words.
Not to be concerned though because Hammett, Trujillo and Hatfield step up to do somewhat of a breakdown of each track and there’s a massive level of pride in their voices, especially Rob and Kirk whose roles as songwriting contributors have increased significantly on this album. On occasion, Lars steps up to speak but it’s the other three that have the most to say. The following is a track-by-track breakdown of the album:
72 Seasons – Hetfield is the first to speak and he says this track has lots of meaning. Either this or ‘Lux Æterna’ could have been the opener and reminds Hetfield of Puppets with its length. Rob says it has that old-school Bay Area thrash sound to it. Kirk wrote the riff which he says “came from the universe”. Het- “there’s a lot packed into that song” and thinks it’ll go over well live. Lars says it has lots of energy. Good driving/workout/walk out song. Good vibes. Sounds great with that Dolby theatre sound. This speaker is better than my home speaker but they need to turn it WAY up.
‘Shadows Follow’ – “RAMONES” says Papa Het. A lot of down picking (something he mentions quite a bit tonight) Goes on to say that, all the places you grew up in, all those experiences, wherever he is, he’s there.
‘Screaming Suicide’ – Kirk barks out “I love it. Total New Wave Of British Heavy Metal song and he loves James’ vocal phrasings. Robs favourite chorus on the album. Reminds him of a mystical magic forest. Has all the vibe of a King Diamond song. Killer.
‘Sleepwalk My Life Away’ – Rob says it represents surfing to him. His favourite intro on this track that he describes as very tribal, ocean driven, a three storey wave. It came about from Lars and Rob jamming. Lars says it has lots of attitude. Lots of swagger. This has an actual film clip Ive not seen before. A weighty song. Miles of swagger. Load-era style drumming. Lars is hammering down hard on his bass drum but this is 4/4 country. Kirk is the star of this show. His solos rip.
‘You Must Burn’ – Kirk: It’s one of his favourites. Especially the bit that leads into his long guitar solo at the end. Reckons they’re some of the best heavy riffs they’ve ever written. Lars: talks about how he likes the albums to be dynamic journey. Another new film clip. This album’s ‘Sad But True’. Slow burn crunchy heavy as fuck riff. There are a few heads bobbing in the crowd. A few mumbles of approval.
‘Lux Æterna’ – Rob says this one is tough to play. Tried doing it with a pick in the studio but got busted. Says it sounds like an old-school Motörhead song. “I love it” film clip
‘Crown Of Bared Wire’ – Lars bangs on about a “Side split”. This is the first song on side 2 of the cassette and side C of the vinyl. Big deal Lars. Het loves the intro, including Lars drumming that sets up the riff that has a ‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’ vibe for him. Says lyrically it has an ‘Animal God’ vibe to it. Looking forward to hearing it done live. Film clip looks like the opening sequence of Game Of Thrones if it done with AI.
‘Chasing Light’ – Kirk says it’s one of the best riffs on the album. Fun to play. Hetfield says its similar to ‘Fuel’ with the vocals kicking off the song. Rob says it has the energy of the music you’d put to a chase scene in an 80’s cop show. Film clip is a pixelated mess of black and white shit that’s gunna set someone with epilepsy off. It’s as if The Matrix was done in 8 bit. Not entirely sure it’s not a cock up in the transmission.
‘If Darkness Had A Son’ — Rob: It’s seriously bad ass”. Keeps hilariously singing “Temptation…” over and over again saying it reminds him of Cheech and Chong. Hatfield says the lyrics “If darkness had a son, here I am” in his phone for a long time. Candidly speaks about temptation and is looking forward to seeing it live.
‘Too Far Gone?’ – By this point the word “fun” has been used a lot, which is surprisingly welcomed given the subject matter. James’s constant beating down on himself. The self pity, self reflection, am I beyond help? Kirk says it’s a rocking jamming song. Film clip is nine flashing squares, another epileptic trigger device.
‘Room For Mirrors’ – Hetfield continues with the Thin Lizzy worship. Says its an upbeat, dual guitar stuff with an Irish vibe maybe. Talks about the transition of coming home after a stint on the road and the family being a good mirror for yourself as the dust of the tour brushes off. Film clip is an 8-bit version of hell and very bloody cool,
‘Inamorata’ – Is the first ever Metallica song to go over 10 minutes. Rob steps up and says it reminds him of the coast, driving down the Pacific Coast Highway. The bass break in this is really special to him. Really channelling that Black Sabbath/Geezer Butler feel. Says it’s one of the most important statements he’s made with this band. It’s all feel, all passion driven. An epic song, his favourite on this album. Then Lars bangs on about how long it is. The clip looks like cross between a Dillinger cover and a Tool clip.
The guys wrap up by announcing that they’re going to broadcast their Arlington shows to cinemas in August. Both nights (Aug 18 & 20), different sets, different supports. So there’s that to look forward to.
All in all, this was cool, but there wasn’t the wild scenes that one would expect from Metallica fans, as seen in videos past (A Year and a Half in the Life of Metallica springs to mind). It was a pretty sedate affair but definitely an enjoyable one with heads bobbing and feet stomping on the carpeted floor. Was considering going to Utopia for the midnight launch but I was done, and a two hour round trip to Sydney at midnight on a Thursday was off the cards. Plus, my variant yellow vinyl is in the mail. Happy Metallica release days kids. TEMP-TAY-SHUN!!!!
Written by Duane James @duanejamestattoo
Check out some still shots from the premiere below:
Read our album review here
Stream 72 Seasons here
1. 72 Seasons
2. Shadows Follow
3. Screaming Suicide
4. Sleepwalk My Life Away
5. You Must Burn!
6. Lux Æterna
7. Crown Of Barbed Wire
8. Chasing Light
9. If Darkness Had A Son
10. Too Far Gone?
11. Room Of Mirrors