Shitty Albums Pt V: Metallica – St. Anger

Shitty Albums is a series of reviews for, quite possibly, the worst albums on the planet. 

Part V: Metallica – St. Anger


Telling a Metallica fan that Metallica suck has always been a pointless endeavor, you’ll quickly end up in a situation where you’re having an argument with a brick wall. It’s comparable to telling someone they are a terrible parent, because even if they objectively are, your reward will be a big fat “HOW DARE YOU!?” before you can even begin to justify your reasoning. One thing you may be able to agree on with a Metallica fan though (if you happen to hate Metallica) is that St. Anger was by far their weakest effort.

So let’s wade through the utter deluge of musical laziness that is one of my least favourite albums of all time (for oh so many reasons). I’ll refrain from saying those deadly words “Metallica are shit” and let you make up your own mind about whether they’re worth your time or not, but to follow is a list of the reasons why this album specifically has less to offer musically than keyboard cat and why even the most loyal Metallica fan has to agree that St. Anger is just a mouthful of shit-sauce.

Metallica fact #1: Daylight saving time was introduced in the Soviet Union one year prior to Metallica’s first release “Hit The Lights”. Coincidence? Probably.

I can imagine the buzz surrounding any release from a band of this magnitude so I’m going to try and put myself into the shoes of a massive fan in 2003 as I hit play on this album again for the first time in… oh wait. Oh. Oh no. Lars, what have you done. The first snare hit in Frantic drags way behind the beat, not to mention that infamous trash can lid tone that St. Anger is so darn famous for. There’s playing around the beat and then there’s bending the beat over a pinball table and having your way with it (I’ll let you guess which category I think Lars Ulrich falls in to). In less than one second this song is mind meltingly irritating, I challenge any song to enrage me this quickly. Seriously this is more annoying off the mark than Rebecca Black’s Friday. Having said that though, she isn’t widely celebrated as a musician that helped define a generation, so I guess I can forgive her. I’d also just like to add that a gratuitous amount of gain and distortion does not immediately make a riff sound dramatic and heavy. The manifesto for St. Anger is carved in stone from the offset and ladies and gentlemen, it ain’t pretty.

So we’re finally done with that appalling intro, let’s look at the verse. There’s little to no gold to be found here in the lyrics either.

“My life style determines my death style”.

Thanks Metallica, I can never unhear that lyric. If I’m losing faith in humanity for any number of reasons those lyrics genuinely pop in to my head, I associate them with utter morons. If someone could post a comment explaining to me what the fuck that line means, other than that Mr Hetfield replaced the word life with death and thought “that sounds cool” I would be forever grateful. Otherwise I’ve got news for you, it does not sound cool, it is not insightful in any way and it sounds like it was written by a five year old. Then there is that vocal/guitar melody, constantly reminding us of the fact that James Hetfield cannot sing or even construct a passable melody. There are nursery rhymes with more melody to offer than this track. Whilst that’s fine, he should just probably stick with that half hearted southern American “bad-ass” shouting style he had perfected. Despite all this, they persist and if you listen carefully you can hear how knackered he gets if he’s holding a note too long. Man, the kids on the morning bus sound more brutal than this…

Metallica fact #2: Did you know Camel Tail is an anagram of Metallica?

So going back to ass kissing fan mode I was able to convince myself that the first track might have been kind of “experimental” piece and an accidental flump. Clearly a risk for an opening track but y’know, people make mistakes. Then when the second song starts I learn how truly pointless my optimism was and how I should never be hopeful again. In fact, this may be a valuable time to mention that this was the first Metallica album I’d ever heard back when it came out. Perhaps it had some part to play in my transition to adulthood, y’know what I’m talking about? That moment when you realise there are no fairy tail endings and that all of humanity is flawed in some way, birthing the utter pessimist you see before you now. That same horrible snare tone drills through everything and makes every second feel like a lobotomy. There’s a drift away from 4/4 at this point but it’s so forced and uninteresting. It all sounds robotic and let me tell you thrash metal does not have to be entirely mechanical, it’s allowed to be more interesting than a cardboard sandwich. More bad lyrics, more uninteresting riffs and melodies some are even worse than in Frantic. Another awful hook “I’m madly in anger with you” meaning absolutely nothing and making me want to slam my face through my monitor.

I think my vision’s getting fuzzy, I might be oscillating in and out of consciousness for all I know. So here is a list of thoughts as they come.

14:00 Oh lord what is that tone on the lead guitar at the start of Some Kind Of Monster? It sounds like the jack keeps falling out…

14: 47 I see what they might be going for, possibly a raw basement gig kind of sound. It doesn’t work…

15:23 Argh, I can’t review this one song at a time, I’m getting a headache…

15: 40 They all sound the same…

16:30 Did I just hear that right? “We the people. Are we the people?” Isn’t that a contradiction?

17:07 More sloppy drumming…

19:01 Same. Same. Same…

21:45 I wonder what Chopin would make of this…

23:10 Oooo no snare! This is improving! Kinda groovy…

23:23 Oh wait it’s back…

23:52 These lyrics create no coherent narrative whatsoever…

23:32 Hetfield: “Look at how many words I got to rhyme guys! Projector, Protector, Rejector, Infector, Projector, Infector, Injector, Defector, Rejector…”

25:06 If you have to listen to a song fifty times to discern it from another song, and you still get confused between them, then for all intents and purposes they are the same…

Then I had to hit stop. I made it through 27 minutes, that’s 4 songs and I consider that heroic. It’s an abominable sign that I can’t even sit through this crap even to pick it apart and drool my hatred all over it.

Metallica fact #3: Metallica formed in Los Angeles just 44 years after the birth of the one and only George Takei (also born in LA). 

See, I don’t know whether to blame this on mixing and mastering or bad songwriting for the overall lack of quality. I really don’t, because the riffs are all dull as dust and the tone is constantly daring you to kill yourself. People need to stop defending this album just because “it’s Metallica”. People make mistakes. Metallica make mistakes. This album is a horrible mistake. Album dynamics have a lot to do with tone and even if the tone of Frantic was top notch I’d still be sick of it after 75 minutes of it. Selling one sound is cheating your fans in my opinion, pulling the wool over their eyes, did no-one tell these guys that variety is the spice of life?

There is no excuse, this is not some tape recorded in their parents garage, this was released in 2003 by a band revered the world over and continuing  to listen to it is essentially letting Metallica water board you again and again and again and again…

Words by Daniel Gibbon


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