Review Summary: There will never be another St. Anger and should be appreciated for what its is Good or Bad.
St. Anger is probably one of the most hated albums ever! And it's very understandable why, for one its from the same band that brought us classics like "Master Of Puppets", "...And Justice for All" and their self titled album Aka: "The Black Album" to name a few, which influenced many bands to come and made them worldwide icons for many people and fans alike. Secondly, the songs are unedited and some suffer from repeat ion which for many seem to make the album drag aimlessly.
Thirdly, the production is really bad or "Raw" although its purposeful its still was a bad decision by the band. The "Raw" production does work as it creates a really unique raw and unstable atmosphere, but to the casual listener its overbearing and can even be somewhat painful. In an interview Lars Ulrich (Drummer) said, Quote: "When we heard the record from beginning to end, I felt - and it was mostly me - that the experience was so pummeling, it became almost about hurting the listener, about challenging the listener, so we left the songs unedited. I can understand that people felt it was too long".
The exclusions of guitar solos by Kirk Hammett (Lead Guitarist) were also problematic, a great guitarist that inspired future guitarist to pick up a guitar, did not play any solos. Although they did write solos they decided last minute not to include them. Unintentionally creating one dimensional song structures (as said by James Hetfield), a regrettable decision they were later added to the live versions of the songs.
And of course the snare drum, although I really like it in some songs and fits the whole feel of the album, it wasn't a smart move to make such a weird sounding drum noise that sounds like pots and pans! So why the (3.5) great rating? Because although this album may lack aesthetically it compensates with passion, aggression and the band sounds very alive with a new found sense of purpose. The band decided to essentially release a bunch of "demos", no mastering no editing lets record, put our hearts and souls into it and release as it is.
Because of this the fan backlash was so great Metallica were shocked and regretted their decision, an example to this was the Some Kind Of Monster EP which contained a edited version of the song "Some Kind Of Monster" at half the original length and much better sound quality.
Why do I like this then? Maybe it's because I got into Metallica around 2007, I didn't have any clue how their past catalog sounded like and I came to this album with an open mind, not expecting anything. When I listen to this CD I cannot help but head bang and sing along, every track as its moment of awesomeness! And after watching the movie "Some Kind Of Monster" I can really understand where all the anger and passion came from, the band almost disbanded during the recording but came out stronger as a result. As seen by better relationship between the band members on subsequent tours/interviews, and their latest output 2008's "Death Magnetic".
This album is in fact what the band promised it will be, a throw back to the old days with fast, aggressive and more technical music, which was for the most part absent in the 3 prior album. But not a throw back in the way the fans thought/expected, but that's our (the fans) fault. The downfall of this album is in its production, lack of solos and song repeat ion (and perhaps also fans expectation). But, the positives outweigh the negative, complex song structures are back with fast and aggressive music with a lot of passion, which hasn't been heard so vividly since "Dyers Eve", the Brutality and aggression of Metallica was back. Riffs and choruses are also very memorable, like the main riff for "Some Kind Of Monster" and who doesn't remember the opening of "St. Anger", or the chorus of "Frantic" tick, tick, tick Tock! How about the end of "All Within My Hands" KILL KILL KILL KILL!!! Whether or not you liked the song you will always remember those moments (and also might enjoy them). This album is jam packed full of great head banging riffs and catchy lyrics and tunes, every song stands out uniquely and shows the passion and aggression Metallica is known for, with no frills or compromises.
To a fan this album should be praised and appreciated just for its message and statement that Metallica overcame that difficult period in their life and shared it with us without holding anything back, lyrically or emotionally. Songs like "My World" saying everyone should f*** off and they'll do what they want, "Shoot Me Again" about various fan backlashes about their past output and of course the Napster Controversy, "The Unnamed Feeling" about inner struggles and depression, "Invisible Kid" about loneliness and alienation, "Frantic" about the fear and uncertainty of the future, "St. Anger" about uncontrolled anger, and how do deal with it healthily and "All Within My Hands" about James Hetfield (Vocalist, Rhythm Guitarist) unwillingness to allow former band Member Jason Newstead (Bass Player) to form a side project resulting in him leaving the band. Regardless if the lyrics are "smart" or "good" they are creative, catchy and convey a direct, assertive and powerful message that fit the feel of the songs.
This album is not a conventional one by any means; it's very inaccessible for most people and aesthetically not pleasing! Probably only fans of the band or someone who can relate emotionally to the album (like my self) can truly love this album and a casual listener/fan may only like a few of the songs, or not at all because of it's numerous flaws/oddities. But the hate toward this album is so great it boggles me? Not enjoying it is one thing but the hate is so immense it's unrealistic! Since when is artistic freedom shunned upon? Example: even if you don't like (or hate!) a painting you should at least appreciate the effort that wen't into making it.
To me it this albums means a lot, I was going through a really bad depression when I found this album and it really helped me get out of it. None the less it has numerous flaws and is unconventional, to some inaccessible and maybe even overbearing and downright painful, so I hope Metallica will choose to remix & re-master this album so more people will like it. But as it is, it's still thought provoking, extremely enjoyable and a testament of the band overcoming a difficult time. I'm afraid though, that the stigma attached to this album is so great it will never get a shred of the respect it deserves, even if it's remixed & re-mastered. I do hope more people will give this album a fair chance and even if they don't like it, that they understand that this album was created with passion and the willingness to expose the bands inner demons and vulnerabilities which should be praised and applauded, regardless if the musical output is to your liking or not. There will never be another St. Anger and should be appreciated for what its is good or bad.
Recommended Tracks: “Frantic”, "St. Anger", “Dirty Window”, “My World”, “Sweet Amber”, “The Unnamed Feeling” and “All Within My Hands” (and also the “Some Kind Of Monster (Edit)” from the Some Kind Of Monster EP)
- Raw, powerful, aggressive, passionate
and uncompromising music.
- Complex but also simplistic and catchy
- Memorable riffs.
- Catchy lyrics.
- No solos.
- Repeat ion in songs.
- Snare drum.
- "Raw"/Bad production.
Overall Rating: 3 - 3.5 (Good - Great)
My Personal Rating: 4 (Excellent)
(This is my first review and English is not my first Language so please forgive any mistakes. I know this album has been reviewed before but for my first review I wanted to do an album I know and love. Thank You)