As pummelling as 12 rounds with Tyson Fury: our first reaction to new Metallica single Lux Æterna

Metallica have surprised the world with a fast blast of speed metal that sounds straight from the Kill 'Em All era

Metallica in 2022
(Image: © Tim Saccenti)

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Meet the new Metallica. Not a million miles away from the old Metallica – in the greatest possible way.

That’s our first reaction to Lux Æterna, the first single from Metallica’s upcoming 11th album, 72 Seasons, which dropped earlier today with absolutely no advance warning. Surprised? Yep, us too.

And what a song it is. Clocking in at a fat-free 3 minutes and 25 seconds, it’s the punchiest and most muscular Metallica have sounded in years. Gone are the complex structures and multiple time-changes of Death Magnetic and Hardwired… To Self-Destruct – this is as pummelling as 12 rounds with Tyson Fury.

There’s a definite whiff of Kill ’Em All-era Metallica about Lux Æterna - it’s there in Lars’ Motörhead-inspired drum barrage, and in Kirk‘s old school thrash-adjacent solo at the 1.43 mark. And is that “Lightining the nation” line a nod to NWOBHM classic Lightning To The Nations by Metallica heroes Diamond Head? We’d put money on it.

The other song it echoes musically is Reload opener Fuel, another pedal-to-the-metal classic, though this is even more stripped back. Lyrically, though, it’s a clear update of Kill ’Em All’s classic Metallica-vs-the-world anthem Metal Militia. “Anticipation/In domination/A sea of hearts beat as one, unified,” barks James, adding later: “Exhilartion/Frenzied sensation/Never alone for the feelings alike.” That theme, together with the Latin title’s English translation of “Eternal Light”, suggests a celebration of the bond between the band and their fans.

And then there’s the video. None of your fancy high-conceptualising here. Just the band playing in silhouette on a stage amid an array of lights and lasers. It might look like it cost a chunk of money to power, but compared to some of the visual extravaganzas of the past, this Metallica going back to basics.

And that’s what this songs is really about. 2023 marks the 40th anniversary of Kill ’Em All. With Lux Æterna, Metallica have come full circle in the best way possible.

72 Seasons tracklist

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
12. Inamorata

Dave Everley

Dave Everley has been writing about and occasionally humming along to music since the early 90s. During that time, he has been Deputy Editor on Kerrang! and Classic Rock, Associate Editor on Q magazine and staff writer/tea boy on Raw, not necessarily in that order. He has written for Metal Hammer, Louder, Prog, the Observer, Select, Mojo, the Evening Standard and the totally legendary Ultrakill. He is still waiting for Billy Gibbons to send him a bottle of hot sauce he was promised several years ago.