One of the few eighties metal acts to enjoy success without resorting to a reunion tour, Metallica became the top cover band in the world, whether covering others (as on Garage Inc.) or themselves, with orchestral backup (as on S&M).
Battles with Napster notwithstanding, it almost sounded as if James Hetfield et. al. were starting to have fun with their music. Whence, then, St. Anger?
Gone are the rock-oriented stylings of “Until It Sleeps,” the plodding sound of ReLoad, and all the ballads. St. Anger is sharp, precise, biting, and —surprise — really angry. It raises the question what they have to be so enraged about after all these years, since most of the lyrics are about emotions themselves, not what might actually spark one.
That said, St. Anger is, sonically at least, the sequel to 1988’s …And Justice For All. The cumulative effect is one of general aggression, but there’s definite virtuoisity in “Some Kind of Monster” and “St. Anger.” Old-school fans who still have something to be angry about, rejoice.
- Three and a half stars out of five
Originally published in Uptown Magazine, June 3, 2003.