Review Summary: Never indeed has music ever managed to convey what the end of the world sounds like. Yet St. Anger has done it. Bravo, Metallica. Bravo.
The clanging drum-pans of death. The low, chugging guitar. The voice of a grown man spouting inane, child-like lyrics. One of the world's most revered bands, mimicking one of the world's most reviled genres. Rebuilt altars to commemorate a fallen band's planned return to grace merely shattered once again.
Isn't it all so obvious
In all this album's monstrous life-threatening cacophony lies this album's very soul; the reason the album exists, a manifestation of our fears, our hatred, our revulsions. Every musical moment that causes you to cringe in dismay is all part of a meticulously planned arrangement; to squeeze all existing happiness out of you, to have you visualize the end of your existence, your weak, powerless self falling into a bottomless cliff on a gloomy night... every clash of the detuned snares forms your calculated descent into madness. A vision of a fate worse than death; an astoundingly accurate divination of a cataclysm is what this album is.
Yes. In this album, Metallica has formed the sonic equivalent of mankind's destruction.
Because when total decimation does come, your death won't be quick and painless, oh no. Your very stomach rumbling from hunger will be nearly enough to make your dehydrated self collapse. Wounds open, sickness brewing, you will be left to your own devices to die. Trying to live only prolongs your fate of inevitable death. How accurately, then, this is simulated with the catastrophically over-long song structures of this album. Suffering through each and every repetitive, overlong song simulates your haggled trudge through boiling deserts into nowhere, death just a moment away.
No respite, too; as you wander, exhausted, past corpses of those who have been relieved from existence, hoping for a single droplet of water to wet your painfully arid throat, tongue burning in its dryness, you remember the recycled elements in each song of St. Anger; riffs re-used over and over again, the complete lack of solos, hoping for a single moment of some element of originality or the musicality that the band became famous for in the first place... hoping for something to remind you of the old days, to give you respite from the ear-drilling cacophony of the music. Of course, there was nothing.
You were too tired to think; too tired to decide how to live through the rest of your days; you merely lived, merely existed
, an empty shell of your former self, dragging your knees over deserted cobbled streets… the stones cut into your knees but you’re too numb to feel the pain. Just as you feel indifference towards the end of your days, St. Anger just erodes your desperation into indifference towards the album's end. Soon, the crackling restriction of Hetfield’s unvarying voice and the sandpaper-like production make your desperate attempt to cling onto any glimmer of talent from Metallica slowly fade away, representing the final stage of mankind’s fall; indifference. The day mankind ceases to care about its death is the moment that represents the sun finally setting on the earth’s most powerful species. And the album that finally makes one give up on Metallica, to leave this dying burden of a beast behind with indifference after 12 years of waiting for a solid album, is the album that nails the band’s coffin.
It’s unbelievable. To think that for all these years, Metallica was merely a heavy metal band; a good one, nonetheless, but just one of many in a congested genre of music. To think that from a mediocre hard-rock album, four individuals, as human as you or me, could rise up to dream beyond life; to dream beyond death; to pen the end of all things to come with the foresight of a thousand wise men and the strength of a thousand burning suns is just unbelievable. Never indeed has music spoken to us like this; never indeed has music made us feel like this. Never indeed has music ever managed to convey what the end of the world sounds like, suffering through the hunger in our empty bellies as we suffer the emptiness of the songs. Yet St. Anger has done it. Bravo, Metallica. Bravo.