Heavy Song of the Week: Metallica’s “If Darkness Had a Son” Is a Sonic Retrospective of Their Career

Heavy Song of the Week is a new feature on Heavy Consequence breaking down the top metal and hard rock tracks you need to hear every Friday. This week, the accolade goes to Metallica’s “If Darkness Had a Son.”

Metallica wasted no time giving fans the unadulterated thrash with the first two singles from 72 Seasons, “Lux Æterna,” and “Screaming Suicide.” No frills, just riffs: It made sense to offer up two of the more direct and immediate tracks first. Following the leaner metal package that was Hardwired…to Self-Destruct, Metallica declared that they were once again sticking to the tried-and-true thrash on which they built their name.

That’s also why “If Darkness Had a Son” is the most interesting track, from a songwriting perspective, that we’ve heard so far from 72 Seasons. There’s more to unpack here, and it would’ve been a far more ambitious choice as a lead single. Perhaps knowing this, Metallica teased the track piecemeal via TikTok ahead of its release, even encouraging followers to duet with it. Thus, the more dedicated listeners would already be familiar with the song’s intricacies when it was eventually released.

While not nearly of the stature of a masterpiece such as “One,” “If Darkness Had a Son” does share some similarities with some of Metallica’s longer, multi-movement compositions. Opening with a snare roll from Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield’s tension-building repetition of the word “Temptation,” the track pulls from all over Metallica’s extensive playbook.

The alternative metal of Load and Reload creeps into the melodic power-chord heavy verses, while the instrumental dropout in the middle calls back to the prog-tinged song structures that have yielded some of the band’s most memorable songs, from classics such as “Creeping Death” to more recent seven-minuters like “Spit Out the Bone.” And that chug-a-long outro adds the proverbial chef’s kiss. If they’re not reinventing themselves, as they so often have, Metallica have instead learned what to do and not do across their 40-plus-year career. “If Darkness Had a Son” is a measured distillation of what’s worked best.

72 Seasons will arrive on April 14th. Metallica will then embark on an extensive 2023-2024 world tour, with tickets available here.

— Jon Hadusek,
Senior Staff Writer

Honorable Mentions:

Cradle of Filth – “She Is a Fire”

Dani Filth described “She Is a Fire” as the transition from Cradle of Filth’s old record label Nuclear Blast to their new home on Napalm Records. In that case, it appears that the band is intent on pushing their gothic-tinged black metal to new extremes. The tapestry of riffs verges on prog, and Dani delivers whispery, evil vocal performance. Cradle are often pegged as a popular gateway band for future hardcore black metal fans, but here, they remind us that they’re still worthy of the canon. Catch Cradle of Filth on their co-headlining US tour with DevilDriver, kicking off March 8th. Pick up tickets here.

Drug Church – “Myopic”

Opening with a banger harmonic riff, Drug Church tap into a rarely heard mid-aughts hardcore throwback on “Myopic.” The gruff vocals bear comparison to Leatherface, while the song’s tangible dynamics and surging chorus drops would appeal to fans of more modern post-hardcore acts such as Title Fight and Narrow Head.

Svalbard – “Eternal Spirits”

UK act Svalbard have billed their latest single “Eternal Spirits” as a tribute to the late Slipknot drummer Joey Jordison and other metal musicians who’ve passed away in recent times. Considering the tight knit, fraternal nature of the metal community, we love seeing such a tribute, especially from a younger band that was most likely influenced by the likes of Jordison. Not to mention Svalbard’s brutal post-hardcore/black metal fusion is a perfect vehicle for letting out these cathartic reflections on death and art.