Monday, November 28.
i was in the middle of editing, when i decided to check my e mail. There was one which stood out, with its bright flashes of yellow. NEW SONG! NEW ALBUM! NEW TOUR!
Could it be, after much debate and speculation; amid a pandemic (which is still very present) and personal and collective losses, that an actual album has finally been realized? i stopped what i was doing, to listen to this song, which was included in said e mail. 44 seconds in, i already knew it was going to be beautiful.
What i didn’t know what how significant it would be to the journey.
“Come to the Church of Metallica. You’ll become a member and rejoice! You don’t have to direct anything at us. You can direct it at the experience that you’re having.” In an interview with the New Yorker, Kirk Hammett succinctly states the very thing i was feeling at the 40th anniversary shows, where i lifted my hands in prayer and repeatedly thanked the Most High for Metallica’s existence in my life. It felt so strange to do, but it felt extremely natural at the same time. It was the third time i’ve felt such a positively visceral reaction while attending a concert- the other two times were seeing Pharoah Sanders (where i cried rivers the moment he stepped on stage) and Kamasi Washington.
i do not, in any way, shape or form look at Metallica as God. It is clear that the Church spoken of is not about the worship of fallible beings, for they, both as individuals as well as a collective, are as fallible as any other human on the planet. However, from my perspective, there was a particular energy they were open to receiving that night, and i was just as ready.
‘Lux Æterna’, the song which was released on Monday, is the musical embodiment of the very thing i felt that night at the 40th. It is, indeed, the musical embodiment of, as Lars Ulrich says, “the whole energy of the universe.”
At this point, i think i have heard this song at least 80 times since its release. Maybe more.
To me, the song sounds like the result of a very difficult healing journey. Indeed, the song’s title is translated to ‘eternal light’ in Latin; while Metallica have been a major factor in my own healing journey as an amputee, this is the first song i’ve ever heard from the band, which expels actual light energy. The focus i have here is more spiritual than anything; however, i’ll focus on the material for a bit.
The song’s double kick pattern is reminiscent of Motörhead’s ‘Overkill’; the riff is clearly inspired by them as well. There are also references to Diamond Head (another massive influence to the band), as well as their own music. The song is clearly a nod to their first album, Kill ‘Em All, yet written with the wisdom and maturity of someone who, again, did a lot of the difficult healing work and self-reflection.
‘Lux Æterna’ still carries the same message that was audaciously stated in 1983: “We’ll never stop/We’ll never quit/’cause we’re Metallica”; this time, it feels more metaphysical, and more to be about the healing qualities of music itself. People have connected with this band in so many ways; decades after they are gone, their impact will still be felt in ways beyond the music.
Never alone for the feelings alike
Lightning the nation
Never alive more
Than right here tonight
is light years away from
Late at night, all systems go
You’ve come to see the show
We do our best, you’re the rest
You make it real, you know
A sea of hearts beat as one, unified
Approaching thunder awaiting the light
is the realization of their evolution and inspiration, from
No life till leather
We are gonna kick some ass tonight
We got the metal madness
When our fans start screaming
It’s right well alright
When we start to rock
We never want to stop again
And the healing power of music and community is realized through the
Kindred alliance connected inside
Cast out the demons that strangle your life
While the individual experience is colored by knowing
I am taking down you know whatever is in my way
…Those things that are in the way inhibit us from being the best we can be, to ourselves, and to others.
‘Lux Æterna’ is, to me, a sibling of ‘Lords Of Summer’, an amazing song (released on the special edition of Hardwired… To Self Destruct) that also references Kill ‘Em All. It also continues the journey that ‘Hit The Lights’ and more specifically, ‘Whiplash’ began- the sentiment of the lyrics echo the slight change that’s been said in live versions for many years now: “We’ll never stop/We’ll never quit/’cause you’re Metallica!”
Rounding everything out, Lars says, “The fifth member of Metallica is the collective… People say, ‘What does Metallica mean to you?’ It’s just a fuckin’ . . . it’s a state of mind.” Metallica for me is more of a philosophical and spiritual experience than anything else, so again, not only do the words of the members of Metallica confirm this for me, but so does this song.
Speaking of Lars… Is the Black Album-era White Tama kit back? MY FAVORITE KIT IS BACK… minus a couple of rack toms and some hardware…?
That kit was the first thing i noticed in the accompanying video, the moment you could clearly see it.
On the upcoming album (of which ‘Lux Æterna’ is on), 72 Seasons, James Hetfield explains:
“72 seasons… The first 18 years of our lives that form our true or false selves. 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 re-enactment or reaction to these childhood experiences. Prisoners of childhood or breaking free of those bondages we carry.”
Re-enactment or reaction.
Re-enactment or reaction. Or response. We can continue the patterns of our parents (or other adults who were there during our formative years), or reject them. To be able to acknowledge this takes a massive amount of work. It is said that ‘hurt people hurt people’, but we don’t have to. i have no idea what the rest of the album is going to sound like; while i have no doubt it will be great, i cannot say the sentiment is going to fully echo it’s first single. That said, i maintain that ‘Lux Æterna’ is the pure embodiment of love, joy and true light energy, emanating from years of (still existent) struggle, heartache and doubt.
i really do feel that Metallica was brought here to do this. No, not simply perform; but to publicly experience a particular journey, in order to come out of it, in order to see their purpose of bringing light. i really do think this is why they’ve endured as long as they have. They will always have human experiences where they make mistakes, or where they will do things i disagree with.
i am talking about something bigger than that. They are not here to be perfect. They are here to be bearers of light.
As you all know, i am an extremely basic player, and far from being that great. i don’t know all the tricks, bells and whistles, the gallops or the 16ths… While i certainly am not Robert Trujillo, the song is incredibly fun to play. i ended up pre-ordering the album, so i was able to get a link to download the song. Soon after that i began practicing it on bass. i am not playing it at all, how it’s ‘supposed’ to be played. i was actually slightly inspired by Bob Babbitt here.
After figuring out the basics, i decided to look up some bass covers of the song (of which there are many, even after three days). It amazes me how, after all these years, i still play like a guitarist, as opposed to how a bassist would play. i can’t read music; i have no idea even what notes i’m playing. i play by sound- which, i’m going to be honest, is why i would not consider myself that good of a player, or even a bassist.
Obviously, this does not stop me from having fun, or striving to be better. Given everything i’ve written in this post, i hope i haven’t disrespected the song (or the band) too much.
i am grateful to the universe for the opportunity to experience not only Metallica in my lifetime; but also the gift of their music.