Is Metallica’s “Lux Aeterna” an eternal classic?

Metallica’s “Lux Aeterna” may be a new Metallica classic, but will it be an enduring one?

I still remember that day in the early 1980s, walking to Hegewisch Records in Calumet City with my friends to pick up the newest Loverboy record, when I came across this really cool looking album cover shoved in the heavy metal section. I saw these large puppeteer hands in this foreboding sky with the strings attached to row after row of grave markers in the ground in the form of white crosses. “Master of Puppets” by, I wonder how you pronounce that name, “Metal something or other.”

That day, I decided to buy that record and my whole view of music after changed. What stuck with me that day was how unique Metallica’s sound was, there was nothing else like it. I was an instant fan.

Fast forward to last week’s release of the new song called, “Lux Aeterna,” and again they hooked me with the strange name, something which appears like a cross between the MTV Cartoon “Aeon Flux” and the name of Elon Musk’s first child with Grimes.

When it comes to what else hooked me on Metallica all those years ago, their unique sound; that’s another story. It seems that Metallica has kept reinventing itself record after record since Master of Puppets, and mostly for the better (I put all blame for “Lulu” on Lou Reed).

Unfortunately, now when I hear this new song, I’m struck by how similar it sounds to their recent offerings. If I had to sum it up, I would say it fits comfortably somewhere between “Spit out the Bone” and “Mouth into Flame” from the album “Hardwired… to Self-Destruct.”

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as I think that album is a real killer, but after listening to “Lux Aeterna” you can’t help but feel like this is an unreleased track from a previous album rather than an entire new Metallica undertaking.

Onto the specifics, the song starts with a great drum intro by Lars Ulrich who has just been killing it on these last few records. Regrettably, it is this very drumroll that makes you immediately think back to the song format from Hardwired.

After this brief drumroll though, James Hetfield enters with another masterful piece of guitar playing, giving us a new lick that will be sure to stick in your head for quite some time. In fact, a quick YouTube search reveals a handful of videos already out there offering to teach people how to play this new guitar gem.

The point where the song falls a notch down for me are the lyrics and somewhat extensive use of echo behind Hetfield’s voice. Maybe it is a sign of age, but it definitely reminds me a bit of Vince Neil’s seemingly not entirely concert-accurate sound from the Motley Crue records. Does it destroy the song, no, but it would have been nice to have that old Hetfield growl in there. 

This is also a very short song by Metallica standards. I was just settling in for a long winter’s nap so to speak and the song was abruptly over at well under four minutes.

So is this a good song, definitely, but more a good “new” Metallica song as opposed to an all-time classic. Regardless, I’m looking forward to what the tone of the rest of the new album, “72 Seasons”, is.

Spotlight Score: 7/10 (8 for the Metallica fanboys out there)


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