JAMES HETFIELD Wanted New METALLICA Album To Be Called ‘Lux Æterna’ But Was Outvoted

James Hetfield

During a recent conversation with the METALLICA fan club publication So What!, lead guitarist and singer James Hetfield discussed the source of inspiration behind the lyrics for the group’s eleventh record, 72 Seasons. The album’s title alludes to the initial 18 years of our existence, which shape our authentic or fabricated identities.

Asked about the extent to which the 72 Seasons idea was influenced lyrically by his childhood experiences and the degree to which it was shaped by his role as a parent to his own kids, 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 s**t 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,” he continued. “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.”

In a discussion with interviewer Steffan Chirazi, he observed that the lyrics of 72 Seasons serve as an additional outlet for James to express his darker side, to which James responded: “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.”

Additionally, James discussed the visuals related to 72 Seasons and the incorporation of the yellow hue throughout the packaging and overall appearance.

“Yellow, for me, is light. It is light,” he said. “It’s a source of goodness. So against the black, it really pops. It is light. 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 on April 14th, 2023, and it will mark band’s first new material since 2016 and it will be released in formats including 2LP 140g black vinyl and limited-edition variants, CD and digital.