Release Date: June 5, 2003
Reviewed by Rob Brode
Stop bitching! Yes, you. I’ve heard your dim-witted denigrations which you let spew so freely. Well after hearing St. Anger, no more should the crap roll out your mouth again. With Load and Re-Load hardcore Metallica fans united and cried sell out in unison. Napster, made Metallica, once again, an easy target to defile with criticism. Yet through all this time, Metallica said “fuck you”, we’ll do as we feel, which if I am not mistaken has been their modus operandi through their whole career just as it had been when they recorded Master of Puppets and Ride The Lightening. But no, the strong idealism which once Metallica fans celebrated they began to censure.
Well here it is, the return to blast beats and open e string chugging. St. Anger is the most primal, raw and seminal sounding release of their career, rawer than a cow fresh off the butcher’s chopping block. Anger opens with the familiar synchronized start stop rhythms at break neck speed that Metallica has harnessed since their inception (contrary to popular belief System of a Down did not invent that). Frantic turns from a potent pummeling force into a quite poignant look inside singer James Hetfields’ troubled and formerly drug addled head, “My lifestyle/determines my deathstyle.” Other songs speak of adolescent alienation, Invisible Kid, and familiar battles of within a la Sad But True in Some Kind of Monster “This is the face that you hide from/This is the mask that comes undone…I’m in us.”
The whole album is full of surprises some for the better others, well, are puzzling. The album while clocking in over 75 minutes has nary a second of guitar solo and not much more of production time. Lars’ drums sound as if they were recorded in a basement with one Casio keyboard microphone. The flat pings and dull thud of his bass drum are a far cry from the snapping thunder claps of and the booming bass of the Bob Rock produced Metallica (The Black album). The departure from polish was either ingenious or insane but either way it is what Metallica wanted despite conventional wisdom. Once again Metallica puts out the album they wanted to do. St. Anger puts the metal back in Metallica for all those willing to give it a listen. While not a musical masterpiece it is idealistically constant and a perfect fuck you for all those who wrote Metallica off.