Metallica - St. Anger
Reviewed by Mike Elms

Fooled me once with "Load," shame on you! Fooled me twice with "ReLoad," shame on me!

There won't be a third time. Not while I've got the upper hand with file sharing services. Yes, as hard as they tried, Metallica couldn't stop the world from hearing a leaked copy of the much anticipated "St. Anger." Just 3 days before the "hush-hushed" week early release of their latest album, I obtained a copy for review purposes over my favorite file sharing service. And what I heard made me very happy... that I didn't spend one cent on this underproduced "demo!"

Let me start with the chief offender producer/bassist Bob Rock. There are no complaints about his skills as a musician, from the little I can hear of his playing throughout the album. However his production (or in this case non-production) leave little to be desired here. Ultimately, it's the job of a producer to take the music the band creates, polish it up, and get it into shape. Mr. Rock has failed on both accounts here. Guitars sound disgustingly muddy. "Some Kind Of Monster" Starts with a guitar part on the left channel that sounds like it was recorded through a dirty connection between instrument and amp. Not leaving bad enough alone, that same sound is exploited as if someone kept playing with the cord.

One for the "What was he thinking?" file is Lars' snare drum, which literally sounds like an empty paint can. For those only hearing evidence of this in their first single "St. Anger," rest assured, this terrible sound can be heard throughout the ENTIRE ALBUM! Also throughout the title track is some kind of windchime effect. Maybe they're trying to emulate bells ringing for this 'St. Anger', however it does nothing more than distract and irritate. And Metallica purists will be disapointed that the 'Crooner' James STILL shows up. Here and there are the growls and snarling barked lyrics of long ago, however it's pushed out of the spotlight by the more common southern bluesy drawl from previous efforts.

And on the subject of vocals lets take a look at some of the lyrics:
Frantic - "Frantic-tic-tic-tic-tic-tic-toc" as Spinal Tap's David St. Hubbins points out - "It's such a fine line between stupid and clever."
Dirty Window - "Projector, Protector, Rejector, Infector, Defector..."
This is the chorus folks.
Invisible Kid - "Invisible kid. Never seen what he did. Got stuck where he hid. Fallen through the grid." Another simple-simon rhyme fest. Did they just not care?
My World - "It's my world. You can't have it. Sucker!" Well said guys.

An important lesson taught to most of us is if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. Even though it doesn't apply to critics, I would still feel guilty of not praising what IS good here though. Song structure is their only saving grace. Compared to the last two "Load" albums, there's much improvement. But with all the negatives here (rotten production, snare/paint can, hillbilly vocals, and sub-average lyrics) it's very difficult to wholeheartedly enjoy and endorse such a product.

Which in the end is all it is: Product.

This Review 2003 Mikey Elms


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