CD Review of St. Anger by Metallica
Label
Capitol
Metallica: St. Anger

Reviewed by Red Rocker

()

H
ell hath no fury. I never really understood what that quote meant until hearing the long-awaited (six years to be exact!) new studio effort from the mighty Metallica. St. Anger, with its blistering pace, complete lack of melody and furious subject matter, is a soundtrack for Hell. Producer and old pal Bob Rock is enlisted here as a temporary fourth member, laying down the pummeling bass lines on these 11 new tracks, while the search for ex-Suicidal Tendencies bassist Rob Trujillo was being conducted.

The best I can tell is that the lot of these new cuts was contrived while James Hetfield was locked away in rehab. "I want my anger to be healthy, and I want my anger just for me, and I need my anger not to control, and I want my anger to be me," Hetfield growls throughout the extended romp that is the title track, "St. Anger." This underlying disdain is more than just a random moment. Instead, the soreness and wrath that parked itself in Metallica's camp over the past few years, including an enraged battle with Napster and the loss of Jason Newsted, has boiled to an angry head on this record. St. Anger's fundamental theme is just that. On the frenzied "Some Kind of Monster," Hetfield spews, "This is the pain that never leaves, this is the tongue that whips you down, this is the burden of every man." Indeed, this time out, Metallica chooses to leave no doubt that their whipping pain is the listener's burden.

The fervent mayhem that dictates the experiments in noise like "Dirty Window" and "The Unnamed Feeling" make the Load and Reload records sound like Hootie and the Blowfish now. Long gone are the popular hard rock sing-a-longs ("Hero of the Day" and "Until It Sleeps"), or even the mildly radio-friendly concert anthems ("For Whom the Bell Tolls" and "Sad But True"). "My World" begins promisingly enough, with a pretty catchy riff. But it soon succumbs, like the bulk of the album, to an overdone thrashing of psycho-production and eventually a manic, 175mph crash course. The two salvageable flashes contained here are actually decent. "Frantic" and "Invisible Kid" both pack a wallop, but manage to come across more contained, more artful, more listenable.

The version '03 Metallica sound has been injected with lightning fast, pulsating bass drum lines with heaping stacks of inflamed guitars (yet not a single Kirk Hammett solo to be found!) that play, after a while, like fingernails across the proverbial chalkboard. That's right, I wish I could present St. Anger as something more, certainly something better. But in the end it's just plain difficult to get through these new songs in a single sitting. Even if you love the days of a speedier, grittier Metallica, even if you were pining for a revisited Ride the Lightning, this offering will do little more than annoy you. Maybe if they would have spent less time fighting a battle they'll never ultimately win (vs. Napster and the pirating revolution), Metallica could have honed a more appealing batch of songs. Maybe not? Remember, Hell hath no fury.

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