Kirk Hammett has confirmed that Metallica paid homage to a classic superhero property on new album 72 Seasons by lifting the instantly recognizable chromatic hook from the Adam West Batman show.
Metallica announced their much-anticipated return this year with 72 Seasons – a 12-track heavy metal masterclass filled with numerous electric guitar highlights, including one of the best guitar riffs of 2023.
But inspirational riffs, goosebump-inducing guitar solos and James Hetfield’s ever-reliable right-hand picking powers aside, the sprawling sonic opus was also notable for another reason, one that spoke to a very specific section of the Metallica listener base.
Pop culture references aren’t uncommon in music, but 72 Seasons had a biggie on Shadows Follow: load up the track and fast-forward to the 4:29 mark. Recognize what you hear? If at first it flies under the radar, listen to it again when the riff crops up a few seconds later.
Yep, that chromatic melody sure sounds awfully similar to the Batman theme. You know, the classic Neal Hefti theme from Adam West’s ’60s Batman iteration.
You could almost quite literally sing “Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na” along when Hammett lets loose on the riff and it wouldn't sound out of place.
When the album first arrived and punters began offering their thoughts, this little quirk littered throughout Shadows Follow piqued the interest of listeners across the internet. “Anyone else here [sic] the 60s Batman theme song in Shadows Follow?” asked one fan on the Metallica Reddit forum.
The responses spoke for themselves: “Yes! I immediately heard it and it honestly took me out of the song for a second,” someone replied. “Man, I laughed my ass off at that part the first time I listened to the song,” wrote another. “Great track overall.”
The meme-ery reached its peak when one TikTok fan superimposed pictures of Batman and the theme's, erm, lyrics over the top of one of Metallica’s Shadows Follow live performances.
Well, everybody on the internet is about to feel very vindicated, because it turns out that track does indeed feature a call back to West’s Batman theme – and it was seemingly included deliberately.
Speaking in the new issue of Total Guitar, Hammett even revealed he and the band had a formal name for it: “The Batman Riff”.
When questioned about all the elemental inspirations that form the foundation of 72 Seasons, and when it was put to him that Metallica were well and truly a rock ‘n’ roll band – despite the metal and thrash connotations – Hammett responded: “Thank you for recognising that, because we are.”
And, when quizzed about that moment in Shadows Follow, he confirmed: “That’s really funny, because we called that riff ‘The Batman Riff’, and I know exactly what you are talking about.”
As for Metallica’s pedigree as a rock ‘n’ roll outfit capable of shaking up the status quo and, er, referencing Batman in one of their songs, he went on, “One thing I noticed from watching AC/DC at Power Trip is that AC/DC are actually a bunch of different bands. AC/DC is a fucking boogie-woogie blues bar band… a rock band… a hard-rock band… a heavy metal band. They are all those types of bands rolled into one. It goes from ‘Baby, please don’t go’ to fuckin’ Back In Black.”
So, there you have it. We weren’t just hearing things. Metallica did actually quote Batman – and they did so knowingly.
To read the full interview with Kirk Hammett, head over to Magazines Direct to pick up the latest issue of Total Guitar, which also features a rundown of the best albums, gear and guitarists of the year.