Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog) (last update 5/23/2017)

November 29, 2013

Metallica ~ St. Anger

(Click on the heading to visit official website)
Style: thrash, heavy metal
Label: Elektra
Year: 2003
Home: San Francisco, California

Members: James Hetfield ~ guitar/vocals
Kirk Hammett ~ guitar/b. vocals
Lars Ulrich ~ drums

Additional: Bob Rock ~ bass

Opener "Frantic" with the chorus "keep on searching/this search goes on" might be an attempt at a conceptual prog-metal experiment of angst, but the fact that it opens with a false take & studio chatter should tell you how uninspired the result is going to be. It takes an amazing song or a lot of guts to open an album with a false start. This is not an amazing song, but the band has a lot of guts. Of the eleven songs every one of them either starts or ends with false starts or studio chatter as Metallica tells its listeners to expect a band in the raw just rocking out with no pretensions or fancy studio play. The problem is that raw here might be revealing but it's a painful reveal that's not a friendly one, nor a particularly enjoyable one. "Frantic" is alias a personality crisis that doesn't know if it's a stoned out Faith No More going through numerous moods in a single song or a garage metal band & certainly has no idea how to present a memorable melody, let alone a melody. Many listeners may stop here & never get to the rest of the album. That might be too bad if it wasn't for the fact that every song follows suite creating one long mess that goes in every direction but none long enough to give a clear mood or personality to any song. If anyone thought Lulu was an uninspired mess, one need only go back in time ... Metallica have been on the down low for awhile & paving the way basically since 1991's Black Album & it wouldn't change until 2008's Death Magnetic only to collapse again with Lulu. Load & ReLoad saw Metallica cleaning up their complex sound for some decent though not enthusiastically exciting heavy metal that collapses under its own wanna-be stomp, that is neither album ever really gets from a plod to a stomp. S&M saw a return to something complex with an orchestra accentuated live concert, but its bloated & any groove to the music is killed by the symphonic additions. St. Anger sounds like the band trying to reclaim its proggier roots of their early days, even calling this a comeback or return to form. The problem is that only they know what they are returning to. The listener certainly doesn't have a clue, if the listener can even figure out which song is which. The album is a mess, no groove, too many changes, & a bit of a chaotic punk edge that is aiming or raw but in context is just chaos lacking any groove or feeling. If there's intended to be a lyrical or musical nakedness here the band isn't giving that moment enough time to develop ... though some inspiration outside of just being angry would have helped, let alone a better producer who had a vision that was something more than just being a band in the raw. St. Anger became famous as the album that was featured in a movie whose most prominent character was the therapist the band hired to help them work through their problems. On one hand you can hear that St. Anger is a band laying it all out there & letting go of every emotion like never before. The problem is that this doesn't make good music. While their classic "The Unforgiven" had more intense emotions in its couple minutes than this entire album & more people enjoyed that. Just because it was overly polished doesn't mean it can't speak powerfully. It's key was one emotion developed out, instead of every emotion developed in every song with a lot of bad singing & unmemorable or sing-a-long lyrics. This is a tough album that gets kudos for what it is trying, not for being a great Metallica album. Freud might enjoy it. A lot of Metallica fans won't. It's raw. Maybe too raw for its own good.It lacks a lot & what it gives back - is it worth it? One can say it is Metallica raw, but for most of us the best Metallica is far from raw. Let alone for most of us we prefer a Metallica that has memorable songs not a memorable experiment.

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