Metallica lean into their strengths on hard-hitting new song, If Darkness Had a Son

(from left to right) James Hetfield, Robert Trujillo, Lars Ulrich and Kirk Hammett of Metallica perform onstage at the Microsoft Theater on December 16, 2022 in Los Angeles
(Image credit: Jeff Kravitz/Getty Images/P+, MTV)

Back in November, Metallica announced 72 Seasons, their 11th studio album and the long-awaited follow-up to their 2016 LP, Hardwired… To Self Destruct.

With the announcement came the release of the LP's thrashin' lead single, Lux Æterna, a tune that was followed up in January by the wah-laden scorcher, Screaming Suicide.

Now, the thrash titans have premiered 72 Seasons' third single, the classically Metallica If Darkness Had a Son. You can check out the song's music video below. 

With a martial groove from drummer Lars Ulrich, mammoth low-end work by Robert Trujillo on bass guitar, an ominous, thundering riff and a lightning-like, expressive solo – colored, naturally, in its opening bars, with some tasty wah pedal work – from Kirk Hammett, If Darkness Had a Son shows the metal A-listers leaning into their strengths, to great effect. 

As a whole, 72 Seasons was envisioned as a reflection on how the first 18 years of a person's life play a huge role in shaping who they become.

“72 seasons. The first 18 years of our lives that form our true or false selves,” frontman James Hetfield wrote of the album's theme last November. “The concept that we were told ‘who we are’ by our parents. A possible pigeonholing around what kind of personality we are. 

“I think the most interesting part of this is the continued study of those core beliefs and how it affects our perception of the world today. Much of our adult experience is reenactment or reaction to these childhood experiences. Prisoners of childhood or breaking free of those bondages we carry.”

That theme even carries through to the album's artwork, which prominently features the charred remains of a late-’80s Fernandes LE-1 Strat copy, a likely homage to the Fernandes FST-135 (nicknamed ‘Edna’) that Hammett used early in Metallica's career.

The cover of Metallica's forthcoming album, 72 Seasons

(Image credit: Tim Saccenti)

Produced by Greg Fidelman – who also manned the boards for Hardwired... to Self-Destruct72 Seasons is set for an April 14 release via the band’s own Blackened Recordings.

To preorder the album, visit Metallica's website.

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Jackson Maxwell

Jackson is an Associate Editor at He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.