Pawed by Muttley
Re-mastered by Ella Crew
One star *
Muttley’s back and I’m not happy! With my acute sense of
smell something’s a bit off. It’s Metallica’s recent release - St. Inker
(oops that should be St. Anger). Now, before all you Metallica groupies out
there (both of you) send me rude letters suggesting very painful surgery to my
nether, let me explain. I don’t share the same negative view of Metallica with
my canine colleague Mott the Dog. The black album or self-titled ‘Metallica’
was a classic groundbreaking metal album. Unfortunately, despite much commercial
success, the band has not achieved the quality of song writing since then. St.
Anger is awful.
Metallica was formed in 1981 when ex-Diamond Head drummer
Lars Ulrich, ex-Obsession/Leather Charm, vocalist/guitarist James Hetfield, and
lead guitarist Dave Mustaine got together. Bassist Cliff Burton was recruited
the following year. Before the first commercially released album (Kill ‘Em
All) hit the streets in 1983, Mustaine had been fired amid much acrimony and was
replaced by ex-Exodus guitarist Kirk Hammett. Mustaine went on to establish his
Metal credentials by forming the excellent Megadeth. Ride the Lightning followed
in 1984 and confirmed Metallica as the pioneers in the burgeoning speed/thrash
Most of 1985 was spent on the follow-up album Master of
Puppets, which hit the top 30 in the US and #41 in the UK charts despite the
absence of any hit singles. Unfortunately, in 1986 Burton was killed instantly
when the band’s tour bus overturned. He was replaced by ex-Flotsam and Jetsam
bassist Jason Newsted and the classic Metallica line-up is formed. Their first
release is the cover-oriented - $5.98 EP - Garage Days Revisited. It reached #27
in the UK and prepared the way for the release of ... And Justice for All in
1988. The album hit #4 in the UK and spent a year in the US charts reaching a
peak of #6.
After some shows and numerous awards during 1989 and 1990 the
band released Metallica in 1991. It entered both the UK and US charts at #1.
Over the next year the band released no less than five singles from the album
including top 10 UK hits - Enter Sandman and Nothing Else Matters - firmly
establishing the band in the financially lucrative metal/heavy rock market.
Looking back, listening to any of the bootlegs of this era, the band had reached
its creative peak - though more commercial success followed.
Subsequent releases revealed serious song-writing
deficiencies although Load in 1996 reached similar commercial heights with the
single Until It Sleeps, hitting #5 in the UK. Re-Load in 1997 comprised un-used
sessions material from the Load album and Garage Inc in 1998, largely comprised
covers. The Live S&M double album with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
in 1999 was an interesting, but unconvincing experiment. It has been said that
bands collaborate with orchestras for one of two reasons - money or no new ideas
- or both.
Some four years later, we are presented with St. Anger,
arguably the first studio release with original material for seven years. Since
S&M, Newsted left in 2001 citing a desire to work on other projects,
Hetfield entered re-hab, and Ulrich spent much time in a legal battle with
Napster. Given the excesses of success the band has experienced, it is a wonder
that the band is still recording at all. However, St. Anger does not do the
band’s name justice. It’s a collection of indistinguishable thrash tracks,
the quality of which you would expect from a nu-metal band just making its way
in the business. Although Hetfield’s voice is pretty good, the lyrics are
tedious and unoriginal. Ulrich’s drumming is too prominent and Hammett is just
going through the motions. New bassist Robert Trujillo hardly makes an impact at
all. There is little noticeable guitar and few solos, one of the band’s past
strengths. Perhaps this is the way metal music has developed in recent years,
but Metallica should be able to sit above all this. Of the few credible tracks -
the title, St. Anger, is good with strong vocals backed by some hard riffing,
and Purify has a good rhythm.
Why ‘one star’? Well, if you are one of the few that
actually likes the album, the free DVD of the band playing the same bad songs is
right up your street. When first released in Thailand, it was available for THB
399. Now it’s priced at THB 499. My ‘one star’ is really for the band’s
legend that was cultivated by their first five or six albums.
James Hetfield - vocals & guitar
Lars Ulrich - drums
Kirk Hammett - guitar
Robert Trujillo - bass
Some Kind of Monster
Shoot Me Again
The Unnamed Feeling
All Within My Hands
To contact Mott the Dog email: [email protected]