On this day a decade ago, I was caught up in a frenzy of people excited about a new Metallica album. It was all my friends and I could talk about. It was going to be everything that we had wanted for so long. Metallica was going to be heavy again. Metallica was going to play fast again. Metallica was going to be Metallica again!
Then, I ripped off the plastic wrap that held that digipak with the red fist on the cover. I unfolded the package twice and found the CD. I tore it from the sleeve and tossed it into my CD player and stared at the speakers. “Frantic” began to play…
I knew from the first song that something wasn’t right. The guitar sounded weird. The drums sounded weird. The lyrics even sounded weird. A certain tone was set that made me realize that this was a Metallica I had never heard before, and this wasn’t the best tone.
“St. Anger” began and it was a beacon of hope. I maintain that this song has it’s moments. It has a raw feel to it. The song is pretty simple, aggressive, and memorable. Hearing this song again, I imagine the music video where they were playing the song in a prison and prisoners were going apeshit. That seemed like such a badass video in 2003. It strangely holds a place in my metal heart.
“Some Kind Of Monster” grew to be my favorite song on the album. The unbelievably simple structure song was the perfect track for a frustrated fourteen year-old. Looking back, I have realized that is who this album was perfect for. While yes, there was so much of that music already out there in the nu-metal scene, having your heroes speak in a way I could understand made it really work then. It wasn’t Justice, The Black Album, or even Garage Inc., but it was needed.
There are a few tracks that never really held my attention and still don’t. “Frantic,” “Dirty Window,” and “Invisible Kid,” are easy to forget. Revisiting them for this only made me want to skip them again. Honestly, there are a few songs like this for me on every Metallica release.
“Shoot Me Again” seems like once that should have fallen in that same category. It has this weird call and response with James singing only to interrupt himself and scream “WITH A BULLET IN MY BACK!” Not terribly necessary. He then sang in a completely new, and fairly stupid voice to say “Shoot me again, I ain’t dead yet.” Again, it should have been in that forgotten category, but I enjoy it. I’m probably wrong on this one.
I really only think there are three songs that are downright terrible on St. Anger. “My World,” “Sweet Amber,” and “Purify” were and are unlistenable. They sound like a young band trying way too hard to sound badass and ultimately falling flat.
This brings us to “The Unnamed Feeling.” This is the one 100% great song on here. I think It could have fit in with the gems from Load and Reload, and don’t act like you didn’t like a few songs from Load and Reload. You’re not cool with your cliché anti-90’s Metallica stance. “The Unnamed Feeling” the mellowest song on the album, for sure, but it just has something about it that made it work. Yes, even during that insane “Got the FUCK out of here…” part.
That opening weird wah of “All Within My Hands,” still gets me pumped. Musically, its pretty interesting if you listen past James. It sounds like they are channeling System Of A Down in this one. Despite it’s lack of lyrical diversity, and general St Anger sounds, this one had the potential to be my favorite track on the album. That is, of course, until James begins saying “Kill” over and over…and over. This is how the album ends. It doesn’t sit well either.
Having sat through all 75 minutes for the first time in a decade I can say a few things for sure. St Anger is not worthy of its status a punch line in the metal community. A few songs are good, half of the album is decent, and what’s left is rubbish. The better songs, and all the songs really, could have probably been made into mid-90’s era Metallica cuts if they cut them in half, added a solo, and fixed Lars’ snare drum. In fact, a few fans out there have gone out and “remixed” the album doing just that. YouTube them, they’re pretty cool.
There might be a bit of nostalgia in my acceptance of this album. I’m not sure why though. I fucking hated what life I had when I was fourteen.
Is it good? No, but it’s really not as bad as people say it is. It’s not worth the score of “N/A” out of 10 in holds on Blabbermouth.
St. Anger was worth revisiting. hearing it again was like catching up with an old flame who broke your heart and realizing, that you could still be friends but probably shouldn’t hang out too often. Nice seeing you again St. Anger, you’re right, we totally should hang out, but we both know we won’t. We’ll just cross paths again in ten years.