Review Summary: Metallica decided to raise their middle finger to pretty much everyone on Anger, and that is precisely why it works.
Show it respect or it will show you its fist, in the face. If you don’t understand anger, you don’t understand James Hetfield. You don’t understand the fire, the raging, pulsating unsurfaced fury that drove this man throughout his life. The genius of Hetfield is usually only appreciated in his early works, works like Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets. These albums were about war, about chaos, destruction, and cocaine. They were angry, but more in the sense of anger towards certain establishments, and about outside influences. James got his rage out, to near sonic perfection I might add, but he never faced the anger, the beast inside. Until St. Anger.
You might think St. Anger is an under-produced, pulsating clusterf*ck of misguided rage and horrific songwriting. I call it genius, especially in parallel to the album’s themes and the un-matched depression engrossing Hetfield at this time. You don’t scream TICK TICK TICK TOCK with that much fire and emotion unless you are crawling out of your skin. You don’t say “f*ck it all and f*ckin no regrets” unless you mean serious God Damn business. What is this monster James speaks of? Alcohol? Mid-life crisis? Trouble with the wife? At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter much. Whatever the hell was wrong with James Hetfield during this time, it propelled him to something great. Something epic. It propelled him to write beastly songs like “Some Kind of Monster.” It inspired him to talk about the torment of “Invisible Kids.” It simply stated, with James screaming at himself, YOURE LIVIN A LIE YEAH. James’ lie turned to James’ rage, which in turn catapulted James’ genius. You just don’t get it.
On a production note, some people like to skewer Lars Ulrich for his snare drum. Some call it the worst drumming performance in history. I call it underrated. I call it the backbone for the understated yet raging thematic chaos of this record. I call it a touch of subtle grace. As for Kirk? Well Kirk got himself reigned in on this album. He wasn’t allowed to solo, which on the surface is a shame of epic proportions, but this in turn allowed him to mirror Hetfield’s morbid riffs, adding a layer of beast-like tenacity to each surging, pulsating chord. The production is the point here people. Metallica was lambasted for the polished production of the black album. They were raped for the toned-down, hard rock overtones of the Load series.
Metallica decided to raise their middle finger to pretty much everyone on Anger, and that is precisely why it works. You might not like it. James wanted it that way. Lars could really care less if you can’t handle his metal onslaught. Don’t live a lie. Get on board, and recognize St. Anger for the masterpiece it is. You don’t like St. Anger? You’re not madly in Anger? Either respect it or suffer the consequences of your face meeting James Hetfield’s fist. Like the album, the result won’t be pretty, and your face will probably get caved in.