Review Summary: SUMMARY: I'm madly in anger with this album.
Metallica is an often misunderstood band. People accuse of them of selling out ever since their self-titled album. They're wrong. Metallica never sold out. They never actively went after mainstream success, even though they found it. It's just that they, essentially, captured the whole thrash metal genre on their first four records, and found it time to move on to new territory. They are still the kings of thrash metal. Their first four albums basically cemented their legendary status.
No, the reason they don't write the same stuff from their 80s thrash days, is because Metallica just happens to be an adventurous band. I believe it when James and Lars say they don't wanna do another 'Ride The Lightning'. That's because they don't NEED to. They've already done it. They've matured. They've gotten past that.
Metallica was never a thrash metal band. I've even seen from a couple of interviews that Lars himself STRONGLY shuns the 'thrash' label. He considers Metallica a heavy metal band, which is exactly what they are!
So if you think about it, Metallica never sold themselves out, it was the people who came up with the 'thrash metal' label that sold Metallica out. The boys just happened to be playing what they were playing in the 80s, people labeled that type of music a certain type of metal, and as soon as Metallica moved away from that to do something else, people accused them of selling out!
That's not always how it works, people. Anyways.
St. Anger. Heavy metal, with influences from the nu-metal genre that was raging around the late 90s-early 2000s.
The sound of this album is anger. The guitars are anger. James twisted and tortured vocals are anger. Lars' new-found drum sound is the angriest anger on St. Anger. MANY MANY people criticize the snare sound as being 'pure sh*t, like he played trash cans. 'Trash metal', hurr hurr'.
This is one of the most, literally, 'metal' sounding albums I've ever heard. Lars' drum sound opens up a whole new dimension of metalness that was probably never really tapped into before.
Let's get to the songs:
- Frantic: Almighty mother of holy tits. They couldn't have picked a better opener than this track. Right off the bat, you get to know what this album is like. Anger. Pure, goddamn, anger. Lars' drumming is really catchy. Especially the part near the end gets me every time. The tic-toc chorus is brilliant. James at his angriest yet. 'My lifestyle determines my death style'
- St. Anger: The moment I hear those resonating clangs, it just fires me up and makes me want to kill the nearest person in sight. Lars' beat during the verses is so simple, yet so catchy, I find myself tapping to it every single time. 'I'm madly in anger with you'
- Some Kind Of Monster: Some motherf*cking kick ass riffs courtesy of James Hetfield. BUT. The track kinda drags here and there, and it definitely could've been worked on a little longer to make it tighter song. The lyrics on the other hands, are so freakin' awesome it's ridiculous. Once again, if they worked out this song a bit more, it could have been a really good track. 'These are the hands that drop your trust'
- Dirty Window: That drum riff is like a goddamn AC/DC riff. Badabadabambambadabam... badabadabambambadabam! Lars is on fire on this album! The outro is kinda lame though. 'I'm judge and I'm jury and I'm executioner too'
- Invisible Kid: I love James' melodic vocals during the 'I'm ok, just go away' part. The midsection kinda sucks though. 'I'm OK, but please don't stray too far'
- My World: Awesome riffing and killer clanking! The rap/hiphop-like lyrics work very well in this metal song! This song comes across as a garage band jamming and having a good time, and I'm feeling it too! 'It's my world... Sucker!'
- Shoot Me Again: Oh man, I remember this so well from the high school days. Instantly memorable. If I was gonna learn to play drums, this would be the first song I'd learn to play! The chorus is IMO one of Metallica's best, and the midsection is SWEEEEET! 'Shoot me again I ain't dead yet'
- Sweet Amber: The main riff is kinda silly, but it's alright. Sweet Amber is kind of a rehashed version of the title track, and it's not bad, but I consider it filler. The midsection is mean as hell though. 'She holds the pen that spells the end'
- Unnamed Feeling: Ah, The Unnamed Feeling. The ultimate epic St. Anger song. I would consider this my favorite song on St. Anger. It's so personal, listening to this song makes me feel like I'm inside James' head. The midsection has got to be the angriest sh*t I have ever heard. You can clearly hear how much honesty James puts into this song. I still get that same goose-bumpy, unnamed feeling listening to it now as I did back in high school. 'I just wanna get the *** away from me'
- Purify: A nice return to some faster metal after the epic that is 'The Unnamed Feeling'. The clanging drums are back and better than ever! Great chorus and vocals from James! 'I ain't dancing with your skeletons'
- All Within My Hands: Goddamn, that riff is evil! 'All Within My Hands' is very dynamic, the quiet parts really help the song burst here and there. This song doesn't really do that much for me though. 'All within my hands, squeeze it in, crush it down'
I would probably leave off 'Sweet Amber' and 'All Within My Hands' because they just don't really do that much for me, but I guess I still need them to grow onto me.
Lars, why did you apologize for this album? You shouldn't. You created a masterpiece. A flawed one at that, but a masterpiece nonetheless. An album that pissed off the critics, the fans and even yourself. A failed experiment that succeeded. An album hated by the world, loved by a select few. Yes, it has that 'exclusive' factor to it. It also has that 'you're ***ed in the head if you like that album'-factor to it. I dare you say you love St. Anger on the streets, and you'll be stoned faster than a defenseless girl in Iran for talking to a boy. But it's all good.
The boys themselves might not even realize it, but they wrote an album that helped a lot of young high schoolers overcome their personal, emotional problems. It came out during a time of turmoil in high schools all over. I see the early 2000s as a crazy time when you had all these school shootings and new subcultures (and the segregation that came with that) and more angst than usual. It's a time I look back to with mixed feelings, and this album was the soundtrack of that crazy time. But that's probably just my perception. I guess you had to be a certain type of kid growing up in high school to really make a connection with this album.
St. Anger is not perfect, far from it. But it IS perfect in its own, little world. You have to enter that world if you really want to get the most enjoyment from this album.
Maybe I just love St. Anger because everybody else hates it. Maybe it it IS a POS album, and in my mind it's just a kick ass heavy metal album with a unique sound. Whatever the case, it's definitely and album I keep coming back to and enjoying. Not everyday mind you, the songs just aren't tight enough for repeated listening, but definitely every couple of months or so.
Excuse me, I'm gonna go watch 'Some Kind of Monster' now. I've actually never seen it!
(P.S.: I'm not a Metallica fan boy that loves everything they do, or a fan boy of ANY band in particular. Just a casual heavy metal listener who knows what they're about. From reading my review before submitting, I just realized I praised Lars a LOT on this album. Again, I'm not a fan boy or his personal ass kisser, it's just that I think his performance on St. Anger is AWESOME.)