David Ellefson Shares Honest Opinion Metallica’s New Material, Reflects on How Megadeth Tried Not to Repeat Themselves Over the Years

Bassist David Ellefson, formerly of Megadeth and now working with his new band Kings of Thrash, recently appeared on WRIF’s Meltdown to discuss his career and recent works. But among other things, Ellefson was asked to share his thoughts on Metallica’s two new songs. The first one, “Lux Æterna,” was released last November, along with the news that they’ll be releasing a new album titled “72 Seasons” on April 14, 2023. The second one was “Screaming Suicide” which Metallica dropped in January this year.

Asked about these two new songs, Ellefson said (transcript via Ultimate Guitar):

“I think it’s very cool, just as much as everything with those guys. They’re like Apple, you know? When they do a product launch it usually comes off pretty freakin’ cool. A new Metallica album is like a new iPhone launch. It’s pretty much awesome [laughs].

Going more into it, Ellefson also recalled the moment when he heard the news about Metallica’s new album, along with “Lux Æterna.” He continued:

“And out of nowhere, I was in Poland – I’ve got this group, Dieth. We’re getting ready to drop a record this summer on Napalm Records.

“And I was over there, shooting the videos, and out of nowhere comes [‘Lux Æterna’], new album announced, new single new tour announced with Panthera and Five Finger Death Punch, and all that stuff, you’re like, ‘Geez!’

Metallica: Lux Æterna (Official Music Video)

“I don’t think any of us saw it coming, which I thought was so cool. The first single [‘Lux Æterna’] especially I thought was very cool…

While talking about these two new songs, Ellefson reflected on how all bands eventually sound like them, something that metal fans could both love and hate. He continued:

“Look, at this point, there’s only 12 notes in the chromatic scale, we’ve played them all, in almost every possible combination.

Metallica: Screaming Suicide (Official Music Video)

Of course, Metallica aren’t the only ones who could face this issue and doing something new was also a challenge for Megadeth over the years. As Ellefson added:

“So, it’s like, how do you… Even with Megadeth, it was like, ‘Geez, we’re on how many albums now? And how do we not repeat ourselves, yet still keep the street cred and play to those fans that want to hear us do that?’

“You’re not really the same guy you were when you recorded ‘One’, right? I think as we age… you’re always looking for how [to] scratch the itch and satisfy all parts of your creative thing there?”

Megadeth - Dystopia (Audio)

Not long after Metallica announced the new album, they’ve also released some exclusive interviews with band members sharing a few words about new material. Discussing “72 Seasons” and what it means to him, James Hetfield commented:

“‘Lux Æterna’ is an upbeat, kind of fast and joyous song, I would say — really indicative of New Wave of British [Heavy] Metal stuff, so kind of a harkening-back-to-’80s kind of riff. It’s just fun and makes me move. It was fun making the video, fun recording a song that comes out really easy, that was a real easy song to write and to perform, like I said, very much like the early ’80s for us.”

“’72 Seasons’ came out of a book I was reading about childhood, basically, and sorting out childhood as an adult. And 72 seasons is basically the first 18 years of your life. How do you evolve and grow and mature and develop your own ideas and identity of self after those first 72 seasons?”

Metallica: Blackened (Buffalo, NY - August 11, 2022)

“Some things are more difficult than others — you know, some things you can’t unsee and they’re with you for the rest of your life, and other things you’re able to rewind the tape and make a new tape in your life. So that’s the real interesting part for me, is how you’re able to address those situations as an adult and mature.”

“There’s been a lot of darkness in my life and in our career and things that have happened with us, but always having a sense of hope, always having the light that is in that darkness… Without darkness, there is no light, and being able to focus a little more on the light in life instead of all of the… How it used to be and how horrible it is…”

“There’s a lot of good things going on in life — focusing on that instead, and it helps to balance out my life. And there’s no one meaning to it — everyone has some sense of hope or light in their life, and, obviously, music is mine.

Metallica: Fade to Black (Belo Horizonte, Brazil - May 12, 2022)

“And the song specifically talks about gathering of people at a concert and [being] able to see the joy and the life and the love that comes out of music and the family and the kinship in that, and just a sense of uplifting.”

What also got attention about Metallica’s new material was the fact that “Lux Æterna” lost the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s Top 40 chart to Godsmack and their new song “Surrender.” In a recent interview, Godsmack drummer Shannon Larkin reflected on this by saying:

“In the real world, [Metallica] are the rightful heirs to the No. 1 slot in hard rock. They deserve to be No. 1. I listened to the song… I was, like, ‘Wow.’ It’s kind of an earworm. I get it. And it sounds like Motörhead… James [Hetfield] sang pretty high in that chorus. I was, like, ‘Wow.’ … I think it sounds fantastic. I heard it on the radio. I was, like, ‘Wow.’”

“This is the first single, ‘Surrender’, that I’ve ever said, ‘This is a No. 1 hit at rock radio. We’ve got it.’”

Godsmack – Surrender (Official Music Video)

He also added:

“The Metallica song is pretty… It’s heavy. It’s old-school Metallica. And our song is more like radio rock — it’s a high-energy radio rock song. … I didn’t write either song, so I can sit back… I’m in the band — Godsmack — but I can look at it objectively, and I think ‘Surrender’, it’s more rock than metal, and the Metallica song is metal.”

“If that was some new band with the song ‘Lux Æterna’. Here they are… Soda Can, whatever the band is. And this is their new song, ‘Lux Æterna’. That shit wouldn’t be No. 2.”

“It might not even make the Top 40. Who knows? Even if it’s a great song. A great song, great hook, like I said.”

Godsmack - Live at Sofia Arena, Bulgaria [Full concert] [2022]

“But since it’s Metallica, they can do that at radio and put out a song that sounds like Motörhead, basically — double bass and all that. That’s some ’80s shit. They can do it ’cause they ruled in the ’80s.”

“Had they put out a song that was not ‘Lux Æterna’, which is super heavy — it sounds like it could be early Metallica — they’d be at No. 1 right now. If they put ‘Unforgiven’ or something like that out, they would have beat us probably, because, like I said, they’re rightful kings to No. 1.”

Photos: Carter Sterling (David Ellefson), Good Will Hunting (Metallica-Warsaw-2019 06)


  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at Ultimate-Guitar.com, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor.