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Class 6(66)

Metallica: St. Anger

15/02/07  ||  Lord K Philipson

Released: 2003

Introduction

Usually, the norm for inclusion in this section is that the album in question is quite a few years old, hasn’t lost anything over the years of its existence but rather grew with time. At some very random occasions, these norms are to be shattered, turned around, ignored. This is one of those times. I remember it so clearly, my first encounter with this album…

Sweden’s Close Up Magazine had a huge feature about this piece before it was released or even available for downloading. Writer Martin Carlsson (the guy who interviews all the major rockstars for Close Up Magazine) had listened to it at some super duper extra mega special de luxe listening session and now told everyone how it included, among other things, close-to blastbeats (eh… ok…), insane tempo’s (sure…), riffs wicked as fuck and every other superlative you can think of. It was obviously a new “Master of puppets”, a new “Reign in blood”. If I remember correctly, comparisons to Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman were made as far as guitars went. Simply put, it was pretty much the best album he’d ever heard. It would be the best album we all would ever hear. I wish someone translated that article so everyone could read it and understand the hype…

I know this Martin guy, he’s an excellent writer, a cool fucker and he knows his metal in’n‘out for most parts, but in this case I think he tried out all the available drugs in the world, at the same time. Non stop. For a week. Yet to this day I get no decent explanation as for what the fuck he was thinking when he wrote all that shit. Elvis had definitely left Martin’s building at the time for the “St. Anger” essay he conducted. I believe money was involved. Money must have been involved. Tons of money. Martin must have been bribed beyond recognition, there is simply no other option. With such an incredible write-up, all of us Swedes waited for this masterpiece to be released…

Metallica were obviously back.

The last albums were just miscalculations in the grand machinery that is this band. They finally got their shit back together. Finally they thrashed again. We had waited for this return to form ever since they started to deviate themselves from their trademark metal with the “Load” and “Reload” albums… That was forgotten now. A new “Master of puppets” was on its way… I mean, that’s something we all long for when it comes to Metallica. They had obviously returned, heavier and better than ever… Martin convinced us. Martin was the first journalist in Sweden to cover the album in-depth, long before all of us feeble mortals had the chance to. We envied Martin. And what happens?

“St. Anger”.

That’s what fucken happens…

Songwriting

0. There’s no fucken songwriting here. There are shitty-as-fuck riffs stacked on top of each other and repeated until your cock runs into hiding, never to come out again. Metallica managed to not only do the crappiest tunes in their career, they also made sure that the songs were 6 minutes too long in each and every case.

Production

0. With all the money spent, the album sounds like this? It sounds like THIS?! Everyone included and responsible for this production needs to be raped and executed in front of a cheering crowd of Dave Mustaine’s.

Guitars

1. There’s like half a decent riff in this mess, tops. I haven’t found it yet though. I think the lack of solos is a good thing coz it’d probably just add to the shittiness, no matter how good a guitarist Captain Kirk is. And the guitar sound is weak. What a surprise.

Vocals

0. James Hetfield decided sobriety was the best thing since shaved balls. The shaved balls disagree. He’s out of key, he whines like there’s no tomorrow and for the first (but definitely not last) time in his career he manages to sound like a fucken idiot through and through. James must be real fucken proud of his effort here coz it’s definitely an all-time low. Someone hand him 4 million drinks, a ton of coke, some LSD, a few shots of heroin and a rubber duck. Then get him to sing. It will turn out better. The guy needs fucken help… Are you seriously trying to convince me that out of all the idiots in the studio, not even one could hear what a fucken mess Jaymz created? A brick wall could hear he’s out of key, but not Metallica themselves. Impressive.

Bass

I think I heard it at one point, but that could as well have been a fart from yours truly. Not that the Suicidal bassist plays on this garbage (and I’m sure he’s very happy about that) but his incredibly silly “crab walk” that he’s doing live is far better than anything Bob Cock plays here, there or anywhere. I fucken hate Bob Cock. Cliff is crying, and the world cries with him.

Drums

Unratable. Lars Ulrich is probably the worst drummer in the history of famous drummers. You know it’s impossible not to mention the fantastic snare sound on this piece… This album is all about the snare. That fantastic fucken snare. Let’s just say that the snare is better than Lars is. And someone, please, tell Lars that the ride cymbal is there for a reason. I think he’s used it twice in his life, and that’s on the “Ride the lightning” album. And what’s with the fucken bass drum being completely ├╝ber-volumed to mark each and every fucken cymbal hit? Not to mention the brilliant idea of actually tuning down the snare in the middle of a song… Jesus Christ… Fuck off.

Lyrics

1. “St. Anger around my neck, he never gets respect”.

Much like Metallica will never get any respect again as they recorded this bullshit and claim they are proud of it.

“I’m madly in anger with you”.

No shit, Metallica.

The lyrics are so full of hate and anger… There’s so much spit and venom pouring out of James’ vocal chords. Metallica are back, madder than ever before. They are declaring war against everything bad that happened to them over the last years. You can hear that the lyrics are truly written from their hearts. These guys mean business. Not to forget the fantastic lyrics to, for example, the absolute gigantic suck-fest “Invisible kid”. Actually, feel free to take any song into consideration, it will all suck, I promise. There’s an “explicit content” sticker on the album… Eh… Yeah, right… As in “Explicit suckage”.

Cover art

1. Completely shit, so it naturally fits perfectly with the rest of the package. A very mean and tied up fist surrounded by the color of metal: orange. Yep, it’s up there with “Master if puppets” alright.

Logo

There is no logo on most of the versions I have seen. And I think we are better off that way since that means one can almost pretend it’s not an album by the band that released “Ride the lightning” and “Master of puppets”.

Booklet

10. This is the only picture in there:

Satan

Overall and ending rant

1. “St. Anger” is quite possibly the biggest disappointment I have ever experienced musicwise. It’s also one of the absolute worst records in the history of metal from a band you know are (were) capable of fantastic shit. I’m still waiting for them to come out (yeah, that too) and say that they were only kidding with this album, then they release the real album that they recorded at the same time as “St. Anger”. “St. Anger” was just a huge joke, made to see if they could actually release whatever they felt like and still sell millions of it.

For a band like Metallica to give us something like “St. Anger” is… mindblowing. They shouldn’t be able to compose such a pile of complete manure even if they tried their hardest. Any other band with less than 2 rehearsals under their belt, sure, but not Metallica. If this was recorded by a different band, a completely unknown act (made up by 3 dogs, a parrot, a glass of milk and one enormous plastic bag of whale cum) for instance, maybe the toleration for this bullshit would have been higher (not likely), but in the case of Metallica it just doesn’t work like that. Metallica had a reputation. They had the albums proving that they could be the best band in the world. Even the “Load” (of semen) and “Reload” (of more semen) discs seem like fantastic art compared to this. Even if it’s not anything really Metallica about them, at least the songs are listenable if you take it for what it is: simple rock albums. “St. Anger” is not a rock album. “St. Anger” is not a thrash album. It’s not aggressive, it’s not furious. It has absolutely nothing to do with anger of any kind. It’s just a complete waste of money, time and space. “St. Anger” is a classic album, without a doubt. A classic piece of fucken shit. There aren’t words enough to describe this disaster, but believe me – I have tried.

They are about to start recording the follow-up (of course rumored to be a new “Master of puppets”. Or “Reign in blood” even). Someone, please stop them. For the love of Christ, stop them.

By all means necessary.

Update February 15th: Here is the translated article, complete with eventual typos, found on the Internet that Martin Carlsson wrote for Close Up Magazine, which is referred to in this review:

“I swear on the bible, on my mother’s grave or whatever – the following text is nothing less than the complete truth. This statement needs to be made, quite simply because you’re probably not going to believe me. I almost wonder if I’ve really listened to the new Metallica album “St Anger” myself, or if somebody has been playing a trick on me and played me some new, exciting aggro-band. You see, “St. Anger” is a chock, one of music history’s greatest! It is as if “Load” and “Reload” has been deleted from the map, as if the Black Album never existed, as if the Metallica we’ve come to know never really existed. The five songs (all of which are as of yet untitled but the title-track) I’ve heard exhibits a sound so EXTREME and raw that all you can do is sit there chocked with your jaw on the floor.

I’m not joking.

Twenty journalists are gathered in the control-room of the studio north of San Francisco. We get comfortable. The air is vibrating with excitement, and then? BAM!! The first song (working title: Frantic) kicks in with hypnotic, almost industrial Slayer-riffs. What the fuck is going on? “You live it or lie it”, chants James Hetfield and goes on with “my lifestyle determines my death style”. It is ultra-tight metalcore like it has never been performed before. Lars Ulrich’s fat drum-sound is replaced with an oilrig-similar snare that’s usually reminiscent of robotic industry-metal. “Do I have the strength?”, a wondering Hetfield screams in the middle of the chaos. It is a maddening Blitzkriegstrategy with attack-waves of battering riffs, attacking from every angle for five minutes and 54 seconds.

I’m not joking.

The war has just begun, and I really mean THE WAR, because this music would be the perfect soundtrack to the media coverage of the war on Iraq. The title-track blazes away with a ultra-fast bulldozermosh that leaves Max Cavalera far behind. We are talking monster-metalized punk from another planet; a twisted and overdosed Dischange just released from rehab! We are talking beyond sound-speed, especially regarding the drum-work. The double-bass pounds away mercilessly and Lars Ulrich’s use of the snare are almost get this! blast-beats!! It’s going to be interesting seeing him trying to repeat this live – if the dane is usually soaked from sweat and carried to the lodge after traditional concerts, then he’s going to need an oxygen-mask and hospital personnel to wake him back to life after this. Following this amazing intro comes a softer part where Hetfield sings “St. Anger around my neck, he never gets respect.” This ten second long part, recurring a couple of times in the seven minute and 24 second long song, is the only part that could be classified as soft. The Producer Bob Rock (also on bass) assures me that this is the calmest, most stripped-down part on the whole album. WOW! A riff similar to “Creeping Death” follows. Hetfield howls “Fuck it all and fucking no regrets” (an exact recapitulation of the classic in “Damage Inc.”). Towards the end of the song he screams “I need to set my anger free”… and this is exactly what he and Metallica does: releasing all their anger.

I’m not joking.

Song number three starts up like an updated “Ride the Lightning”: MEga-fat thrash-metal in midtempo speed. The vocalist spits: “It and you can look out motherfuckers, here I come!”. Sepultura’s “Roots”-era sound reminiscent in this song, with the refrain “It world” repeated again and again. Before the song ends at five minutes and 51 seconds, Hetfield shouts “enough, enough, enough”.

I’m not joking.

Have you missed the complex song-structures of “And Justice for All”? Compared to this around eight minutes long piece (working title “Monster”), the songs of the 1988 album seem more like simple Ramones’ ditties. A progressive blanket of sound that warms like a massive and super-intricate Tool, only a thousand times heavier! Hetfield chants over a delicious part that goes into what could be called a chorus with some use of fantasy: “We the people, are we the people?”. This phrase is repeated two times and “some kind of monster” three times before the singer concludes “this monster lives”. There is actually something here that could be called groove, not entirely unlike Pantera although vastly heavier. The guitars are so damned insane, so damned evil, so damned incredible! The fact is that there isn’t anything remotely like a traditional guitar-solo in any of these five songs. Hetfield and Kirk Hammett use their instruments like surgical tools. The guitars shrieks and scream as if Tom Morello and Kerry King made a deal and decided to take the Devil’s music not one but ten steps further.

I’m not joking.

The most wicked part is however the last, whose working-name is “All Within My Hands”. A very strange piece with an instrumental intro of one minute and fifteen seconds. The tempo is ultra-fast, taking so many twists and turns that you get all dizzy. “All Within My Hands” is shouted and then sung in an Alice In Chains manner. And the ending? MAN OH MAN! Like a possessed madman Hetfield screams “Kill kill kill kill!!” ad absurdum – we’re talking deranged shrieks coming from a psychopathic Tom Araya (think Slayer’s “Kill Again” only even more insane). You’d think it was over after that. But no. It is like watching an exciting thriller with so many surprises that you finally don’t believe an ending is forthcoming. Yes, after a heavy-as-lead finale it winds down at eight minutes and 55 seconds.

I’m not joking.

20 Journalists finally leave the control-room and look at each other. No one needs say anything; the looks say it all: What in god’s name have we just experienced? That Metallica, once tired old farts, have made a complete 180, and now sound like a bunch of hormone-reeking bucks in heat, is the most incredible thing that’s happened in music history. “St. Anger” is the real “Reload”. “St. Anger” doesn’t sound like anything the group has done before, it hardly even sounds like Metallica. “St. Anger” is a modern, super-brutal metal-album that is going to chock and knock the entire music world. Melodies? Nope, there’s not much here that reminds one of traditional melodies or arrangements such as verse, bridge, chorus. The 10th of June could become known as the day that shook the world. If you haven’t caught on yet:

I’m not joking.”