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Metallica - 2003 St Anger

ARTIST: Metallica
ALBUM: St. Anger
LABEL: Elektra
SERIAL: 62853-2
YEAR: 2003


LINEUP: James Hetfield - vocals, guitars * Kirk Hammett - guitars * Robert Trujillo - bass * Lars Ulrich - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Frantic * 02 St Anger * 03 Some Kind Of Monster * 04 Dirty Window * 05 Invisible Kid * 06 My World * 07 Shoot Me Again * 08 Sweet Amber * 09 Unnamed Feeling * 10 Purify * 11 All Within My Hands


Usually studio reports can be taken with a grain of salt, so when 'St Anger' was described as a return to the speed of 80's Metallica, you couldn't help but feel some scepticism, seeing as Metallica hadn't toyed with thrash since '..And Justice For All' during 1988. Here is a rare exception of these reports being true. Many dismissed 'Metallica', 'Load' and Reload' as cop-outs in the heaviness department, but both were solid, basic heavy metal affairs. Many pined for the faster, more aggressive Metallica and after fifteen long years, long time fans have gotten their wish, as this is one of the bands finest hours. Producer Bob Rock supplied the bass for the album, Robert Trujillo added to the lineup shortly after the completion of recording. It doesn't affect the sound, as Hetfield and Hammett contribute some of their most annihilating riffs to date, and Ulrich delivers a performance to defy his many critics.

The Songs
'Frantic' is a typically strong Metallica opener, in the hefty traditions of 'Fight Fire With Fire', 'Battery' and 'Blackened', beginning with some teasing drumming from Ulrich, suggesting full speed at any second, and when it happens it couldn't be more satisfying, having waited some time for this approach. Vintage Metallica, it veers from fast to slow in the flick of an eye, while still maintaining their identifiable sound. Everyone has heard the title cut by now, a number which grows more infectious with each listen, certainly when the band opt for several ten second blasts of near grind-core, putting them back on a plateau with Slayer - just like that.

The structure of these two compositions are the basis for the remaining nine. Moments of solidity, followed by brutish thrash attacks, always with a sense of darkness and down tuned ferocity. Hetfield sounds angrier than he has done in years, with the necessary rage in his vocals to compliment some incomprehensibly shredding riffs. 'Purify' offers zero in the way of any reflective moments, thrash with melody, something only the greats can perfect, which is why Metallica are at the top of the heap. Instantly memorable is 'All Within My Hands', an eight minutes plus journey, with some staggering sleights of hand, reflective momentarily then overtaken by segments that recall the fastest portions of 'Damage Inc', only more convincing, the band playing as if they were possessed.

'The Unnamed Feeling' has a 'Load'- 'Reload' feel, slow and grinding chorus, with the riffs magnified a multitude from those offerings. The same could be said for 'Sweet Amber', although it starts out fast, with moments that had me recalling Corrosion Of Conformity's 'Wiseblood', a dirty, muddy kind of thrash. Many have compared the sound to contemporary acts like In Flames or Meshuggah, but invariably it's them that sound like Metallica!!

The band have no need to copy anyone else, and never once have either of those two acts ever sounded as compelling as Metallica. 'My World' suggests 'Roots' era Sepultura momentarily, the drum and guitar sound recalling that tribal favourite. When it kicks in comparisons fade, with a blinding mid section with Hetfield screaming 'I don't even know what the question is!' The complaints regarding the production seem unfounded, Rock providing an ominous atmosphere, not clean by any means, the whole point behind an album dealing with anger. Much has also been made of the lack of solos from Hammett, but in the context of the album they aren't missed, the riffs doing the talking, witness 'Shoot Me Again' and the dual warfare of Hetfield and Hammett. In this regard, guitar solos seem pointless.

In Summary
Metallica have given the fans exactly what they wanted. A thrash album. And still it seems to not be enough. Older fans weaned on Metallica's 80's work would likely have more of an appreciation for this than the newer fan, who may have picked up on the 'Load' era in recent years. Furthermore it is final evidence as to why Metallica surpassed one time contemporaries like Anthrax and Megadeth, those acts deceased (Megadeth) or languishing (Anthrax), as they in one quick take have returned to a genre they cast off years back, only to sound like they never stopped. Where those two bands tried the Metallica route, slower and slightly more commercial, it never paid off, because they never had the depth, or the quality, both musically and melodically. With 'St Anger' Metallica once along sit alongside Slayer as perhaps the two finest remaining bands of their kind from the 80's. Metallica are not competing with anyone. They have surpassed all. What they have given us is an album you can only dream of in 2003, 75 minutes of genuine thrash from the masters.

Related Articles
Metallica - 1983 Kill Em All
Metallica - 1984 Ride The Lightning
Metallica - 1988 ...And Justice For All
Metallica - 1991 Metallica
Metallica - 1999 S&M
Metallica - 2003 St. Anger
Metallica - 2008 Death Magnetic
Metallica - 2009 The Club Dayz 1982-1984
Metallica - 2013 Through The Never

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#1 | Jokerdean on March 24 2006 18:38:18
ShockShock Man this is a total piece of Dung!Okay first off,I Don't hear anything remotely good on this pile of steaming poo! It sounds as if these were demos that they were working on before James went into rehab....somebody got the idea to release it and that is what we have here. Had this come out in 95, it would be a different story,still crap,but ahead of everyone. As it stands it's a poor effort... no it's an abysmal one!
#2 | gdazegod on March 24 2006 18:56:40
Well I remember very distinctly at the time this was released all the commotion it caused. We ran a thread on this album on our old site, it must've generated about 10,000 hits and about a couple of hundred replies. Some love it, some hate it. It's the sort of album that polarises people. But guess what? Metallica don't actually give a shit.
#3 | dangerzone on March 24 2006 19:40:38
To this day I have no idea what Metallica's fans wanted. The band returned to their faster, heavier style and still it wasn't enough. What I cannot concur decisively is why people dislike it. I'd write this review exactly the same as I did in 2003.
#4 | Jokerdean on March 27 2006 17:02:10
IMO, I think they were trying something different..which is cool! There are some great riffs here and I do like the Production, (most don't)...but no solos? Okay...but to me it seems 6/7 years too late. we can't expect them to do RTL part2, but it seems that this was a rushed effort. The only return to roots here is the sound and production.. the rest.... well to each his own... and I still hate it. This is a band that was a leader not a follower. But hey ya never know, in 10 years I might love this..... But the review is WELL Written! Cheers to ya for that!
#5 | Jokerdean on March 27 2006 18:31:51
Another thing,I read that there was a edited/remixed version of this release that cut some of the fat off and added solos to all the songs...don't know if it will be released though.....
#6 | dangerzone on December 22 2011 16:58:00
I've been listening to this a lot lately and it still stands up for me as much as it did when I wrote it. Or was it Eric?
#7 | Eric on December 22 2011 18:20:08
No that wasn't me. I stopped listening to Metallica after the 'Black' album. You're on your own here lol!
#8 | dangerzone on December 23 2011 02:56:29
Ha ha! Yeah I saw the review attributed to you after I read it for the first time in some 5 plus years and it brought a grin to my face.
#9 | gdazegod on December 23 2011 02:56:30
Oops.. my bad.. DZ its yours.. lol!
#10 | MUSCLE on July 25 2012 14:06:58
Gave this album a couple of listens all the way through a few days ago. It kicked my ass. The unique style of metal that they forged on this album sounds as fresh as it did nearly ten years ago. Top notch. cheerleader

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