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Metallica "St Anger": A Review of Their Most Criticized Album

Ara is a Journalism graduate from California State University Northridge who is always looking to explore his writing opportunities.

metallica-st-anger-the-great-and-not-so-great-aspects-of-the-album-as-written-by-a-longtime-heavy-metal-fan

"St. Anger" Songs List

  1. "Frantic"
  2. "St. Anger"
  3. "Some Kind of Monster"
  4. "Dirty Window"
  5. "Invisible Kid"
  6. "My World"
  7. "Shoot Me Again"
  8. "Sweet Amber"
  9. "The Unnamed Feeling"
  10. "Purify"
  11. "All Within My Hands"
Many people will be shocked by the musical style of St. Anger.

Many people will be shocked by the musical style of St. Anger.

St. Anger is the Most Criticized Album of Metallica's Career

In the long career of American heavy metal band Metallica, there is one album that has gotten lots of criticism for its quality. That album is St. Anger. I have to admit that I did not like this album very much either when I first heard it. In fact, I really did not start to like it until 2014. That’s a full 11 years after the album’s release. St. Anger should get much more credit than it does as a heavy metal album than it does. This article looks at the great and not so great aspects of an album that has received more criticism than praise. St. Anger must be give more credit and this heavy metal fan is here to tell you why. But before we do that, it is worth mentioning that St. Anger is one of those albums that likely would have never been recorded had Jason Newsted not left Metallica or had Cliff Burton survived and lived past 1986.

I look at St. Anger as the one Metallica album that is the accidental Metallica album. If you are ready to listen to and appreciate a very different Metallica album then keep on reading.

This picture symbolizes what is on the album cover for St. Anger.

This picture symbolizes what is on the album cover for St. Anger.

For what Metallica has been through in their career as a band, St. Anger shows that they reinvented themselves and still did a pretty good job

St. Anger is the album that is looked upon as Metallica’s weakest album musically and it has especially been seen as a piece of garbage by the band’s hardcore fan base, the ones that remember Metallica for their outstanding albums of the 1980’s. By the time this album was released, the band had been through enough hardship already. Metallica really lets out their anger and frustration out with this album and these guys are good at what they do and they are able to attract fans from all over the world. That’s why they have lasted so long as a band. Get ready to hear one of the most raw-sounding albums that is full of anger but this kind of anger and emotion expressed is healthy because it is expressed through the creative power of music! Listening to St. Anger for maybe the millionth time, I able to see why Metallica made an album such as this. St. Anger was a way for Metallica to get out of their heads and vent their frustrations with all that had happened in their career especially since 1986.

"Dirty Window"

St. Anger's Strongest Songs

The strongest songs are Frantic, Invisible Kid, Shoot Me Again, Purify, and The Unnamed Feeling. "Dirty Window" has tons of drumming and is a heavy song as well. St. Anger (the song) expresses the emotion of anger in a humorous kind of way. But from the start of the album, you know the band is ready to show that they can still heavy kind of sound and keep the listener interested. St. Anger should receive more credit than it deserves as a heavy metal album for its heaviness, raw sound, and pounding drums even though the quality is sub-standard. I realize that some people may be turned off by the way James Hetfield utters the words "frantic tick tick tick tick tick tock." But the song "Frantic" because of its aggression and heaviness can really provide a very solid opening song for an album that has received so much criticism.

The humorous nature of the song "St. Anger" may help some of you put things in perspective. If you are angry, feeling trapped, and desperate for a change, St. Anger is going to change your mood really fast!

"Invisible Kid"

What Are the Great Aspects of St. Anger?

St. Anger is the first Metallica album to not have Jason Newsted playing the bass guitar. Although Robert Trujillo is listed in the album credits, Bob Rock played the bass guitar during the recording of the album. St. Anger is another one of those very long albums being over 70 minutes long. The album has plenty of groove in it, especially the song called “Shoot Me Again.” This song causes lots of excitement for me and is one of my favorites in the album. For those that enjoy heavy, hard hitting groove metal, St. Anger should be good enough to listen to.

It can be very hard to see anything good about St. Anger because it is such a different album. One fair thing that can be said is that at least St. Anger sounds like a metal album instead of being alternative or some other genre. Remember that Kirk Hammett once said that for Metallica it is all about the music and not the length of their hair. Take St. Anger for what it is worth. There are still some darn good songs on there especially the heavy and fast “Frantic.”

Best Song on the album St. Anger

The Cons of the Album St. Anger

The obvious cons for St. Anger are the drums which sound like someone is pounding on tin cans and the lack of guitar solos. These are two major reasons why St. Anger is not one of the band’s strongest musical efforts on par with Master of Puppets, ...And Justice for All, and even Death Magnetic.

metallica-st-anger-the-great-and-not-so-great-aspects-of-the-album-as-written-by-a-longtime-heavy-metal-fan

"Purify"

Updated Review for St. Anger

So for an updated version of this review, let us go through most of the songs on St. Anger and they are listed in no particular order of greatness. We will discuss the songs that have not been elaborated in.

  1. Frantic - This opening song really shows that Metallica comes out of the gate full speed ahead with their new brand of musical ferocity in the 21st century. There is a constant uttering of frantic, tick-tock by James Hetfield and some fans will find this annoying but it is a good opener for the album. I suppose some of you will wonder why the band decided to include a melodic singing part of “keep on searching.” They wanted to make things a little more varied since there are no guitar solos on the album.
  2. St. Anger - This song has shades of the band’s early days as Hetfield mentions the phrase no regrets. I certainly have no regrets listening to this album. There are time changes that keep on happening throughout this 7+ minute song. There is also the reference to the song “Hit the Lights” in this one as early on, you get the feeling that St. Anger is an album that represents so much of what has happened in the career of Metallica.
  3. Dirty Window - This song has A LOT of tin can style drumming in it. Who really wants to clean dirty windows? However, the song starts out with furious vocals by James Hetfield as he speaks about seeing his reflection in the window as it looks different compared to what some people would see. A clean house is definitely important and some of you may see the humor in this statement as this song is entertaining too as well.
  4. The Unnamed Feeling - This song had to be on this list of the updated review because of the fact that it is a power ballad. Prior to this song, Metallica didn’t really have a power ballad. As the song’s title suggests, the feeling is unnamed. Lyrically as I listen to this song, my best guess is that this unnamed feeling is the fact that James remembers what he felt as he was experiencing his battles with alcoholism.
  5. Purify - This song is an all-out assault on the ear drums as the heaviness is made heavier by the guitars including the drum sound. We need help to purify this world from some of the evils in it.
  6. Some Kind of Monster -This third song starts out with some Black Sabbath doom sound which is not something we hear from Metallica very often and this song takes a while to grow on you musically.
  7. Invisible Kid - This song starts out with a catchy as heck riff as the drumming kicks in. The song might have lyrics in it that don’t make the most sense but the song has heaviness, decent vocals, and moderate riffing that is memorable even in 2021.
  8. Sweet Amber – This song has a rather unusual start to it as it slowly builds up into a rather heavy and humorous song as there is the sentence “how sweet does it get?”
  9. My World – This is one of the songs on this album that received perhaps the most criticism from me due to how I felt that it was substandard but this song has really grown on me. There is this definite Creeping Death influence to start off this song. The song’s message of being the one in charge of their life and world really dominates this one. In life, some of us feel that no one has the right to interrupt what we consider our own world.


"Frantic"

Rate the Album St. Anger

Final Thoughts About St. Anger in 2020 and Beyond

After reviewing St. Anger in 2020, it now gets an 80 out of 100 points making it a better album than Load or Re-Load. In a remarkable turn of events, I view St. Anger as one of the best albums of the modern era (early 2000’s to the present). St. Anger has a musical ferocity and anger that even Kill ‘Em All back in 1983 did not have. Metallica’s debut album had that new kind of thrash metal aggressiveness but St. Anger is a musical example that Metallica still has what it takes in terms of creating a brilliant modern day groove metal album. St. Anger definitely is better than albums such as Reinventing the Steel.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2016 Ara Vahanian

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