St. Anger Album reviews.
Release Date: 06.05.03
Record label: Elektra / Asylum
Pure, No Bullshit Metallica
by: Cody McClintock
A welcome razor edge has been thrust into the gasping corpse of the current metal regime. James Hetfield, Kirk Hammet, and Lars Ulrich have finally gotten their hands dirty and unearthed their roots, while introducing the solid Dog Town bass work of veteran Robert Trujillo (formerly of Suicidal Tendencies and Ozzy Osbourne). The sleeping beast of thrash metal has been reawakened by St. Anger; like the resurrection of a fallen warrior, this album roars with the intensity of a runaway tank on a gridlocked freeway; leaving a path of smoldering destruction in its wake.
Internal crisis takes many forms. It has been six years since Metallica’s last album Reload was released and the time passed has done this band some good. It seems that ‘change’ has played a starring role in the recent return of metal's most adored rock gods. Apart from obvious changes to the line up is the sharing of song writing duties. Previously, Hetfield reserved the power of the pen for himself, yet after months of voluntary rehab he returned to Metallica willing to share lyrical responsibility with his bandmates. After climbing down from the crow’s nest, it seems it was time to plot a new course and set a new direction. Maybe the hair grew back a little bit or maybe they are just a little bit older and all the wiser.
It appears sobriety has helped clean the salt from some of Hetfield's old wounds. This album rages with the intensity of an adolescent firestorm exorcising the lurking demons that wreak havoc on the mind of a man who is finally coming to terms with issues he previously drowned with heavy doses of Jack Daniel's; the magic cure-all elixir of fame. James exposes a core of confusion and a voice for the disenfranchised youth in all of us. “INVISIBLE KID/ GOT A PLACE OF HIS OWN/ WHERE HE’LL NEVER BE KNOWN/ INWARD HE’S GROWN”. Questioning the ever-manifesting world around him, we see the essence of a 'maybe’ logician; there are no lines drawn in the sand nor are there crutching dogmas of dubious support; we find a man who has recovered a long buried sense of individuality, purpose, and wonder.
This record itself leaves the line at full throttle and rarely takes a breath. Ulrich’s machine gun style double bass hammers with fury on the title track, while dipping into a psuedo Native American stomp on "Some Kind of Monster” which guides us through a sea of blazing and bleeding guitars. Speed metal mayhem wages a war on the establishment in this rant against ailing systems of control, while power anthems like "Dirty Window" rage with a spit-flying mosh pit vitality that hits you like an elbow to the face but keeps you coming back for more.
Though this album makes its mark, as a timely driven come back, it’s far from perfect. Longtime fans may long for the melodious classical undertones that served brilliantly to juxtapose the rough aggression of earlier works like ‘Master of Puppets and And Justice for All. Likewise, you will find no endearing power ballads like "One" or "Unforgiven," yet the sheer rocking momentum behind St. Anger is enough to carry one through to the last track without hesitation or much complaint.
Kirk Hammets guitar tones are powerful and relentless, minus any spotlight noodling. Hetfield unexpectedly breaks from the polished post Black album vocals, revisiting familiar gritty tones a la Garage Days, while pushing himself in intensity and self-reflection. Lars destroys the kit on most tracks; thundering out rhythms and avoiding cliché drum solos. And Robert Trujillo is definitely not a wallflower in this latest effort, with assurance he comes through as a solid foundation for the benchmark energy and passion that is pure, no bullshit, Metallica. 12-Aug-2002 9:04 AM
About the author: Cody McClintock is an artist/ filmmaker from California, whose latest project entitled Maybe Logic, the lives and ideas of Robert Anton Wilson will be released in July 2003