I try not to beat dead horses. And it's been so long since I opened the creaky door to this room...
But I couldn't help myself this time. And I'm a little sick. Coughing, sneezing, snotting, squinting..."sigh"...and tired.
Anyway, there's a discussion currently running at the Metallica "anything goes" board at Metallica.com. I go there once in a while to see if there's something interesting I've missed, maybe a new song or new album info. But tonight I spotted a St. Anger discussion. I knew what to expect...most Metallica fans hate the album. And sure enough, there was plenty of hate going around (though it was oddly free of rancid mouth foaming and harsh language, maybe the moderators are out in force in that forum?), and I only intended to read the first few posts and move on like I usually do. But something about the discussion captivated me.
For one thing, people keep comparing St. Anger with the Load albums. Sure, I've seen St. Anger compared to just about everything, but tonight it was mostly the Loads.
And I have to wonder...why is this a thing?
Comparing Metallica albums has to be done in "eras". For instance, the First Four can mostly be compared with each other. The band was faster, more thrashy, and darker...perhaps even more Metal with all the heavy metal trappings of the eighties. After that, of course, the band lost the fire of creation and albums became much more sparse, but also more distinct.
The Black Album stands alone as the first endeavor at serious radio play. Then the Loads which were first intended to be a double album, so they sound the same, but don't really count as individual works, and they too stand alone but as very creative and adventurous projects.
Then comes St. Anger, another unique experience in the band's short lineup of material. But St. Anger is special. It stands in a whole different light than any of the other Metallica Albums to date, or after. St. Anger is a rage album. It's aggressive as nothing Metallica or even few other metal bands have ever dared to attempt. It has a frantic intensity to it that no other Metallica album can match. It is filled with sheer, raw, bitter emotion. A child will throw a fit, a loud tantrum, if he is denied his wishes. And Metallica's band members weren't quite getting what they wanted from life at the time St. Anger was being written. And so they threw a fit. A metal temper tantrum. People don't often bring up the album that was abandoned before St. Anger was conceived. The band locked themselves away in a barrack and tried to force some creative drive. We've heard some of the riffs and song structures that came from that endeavor, and possibly some of the material was recycled into more recent work, or even slammed into something on St. Anger...we don't know the full details of the aftermath. What we do know is that the band imploded with the stress of the endeavor then promptly ejected all of their rage and frustration onto St. Anger.
It's a unique album and stands on it's own, is what I'm saying. It cannot be compared to any of the other albums. It isn't the same Metallica that the fans grew up with. I get that. I respect that. But we can't compare apples to oranges, even if they grow from the same tree (and it's possible too, blended fruit trees are a real thing, look it up sometime!)
For my part, I love classic Metallica. I've been following them since ...And Justice For All and instantly fell in love with Puppets and Lightning...Kill 'em All took some time to grow on me, it has a different production value to it and I have to be in a "classic mood" to enjoy it properly. The Black Album hasn't aged well with me and it also took some time for me to get past the fact that it wasn't another Justice album, but I still love some of the stuff on it. The Loads...oh man, talk about needing some time to get to know somebody...A country song? Are you serious? (first impressions and all that) but I really grew to love Metallica's take on bluesy riffs.
And I love St. Anger.
There, I said it. I've been a closeted St. Anger fan all these years. It's a rage album, and I sometimes need something filled to the brim with rage...something other than the weirdness that comes with old Manson or much of the Korn catalog...just pure, unadulterated rage. And that is what St. Anger is for me. I don't listen to it for the lyrical content or high production value. I prefer this album to be rough and splintered, jarring. Though I do sigh sometimes when the "kettle drums" pull me out of the experience, or when I have to change my focus to skip over "Invisible Kid". You see, Invisible Kid has no place on this album. Sure, it has a story that fits, but it takes the listener out of the rage fueled flames...it's that guy at the party that always makes you feel uncomfortable and makes you wonder if he was really invited or if he just crashed the place.
I love St. Anger for what it is, just a rage-filled, uncompromising, rough-around-the-edges album. And it has no business being compared with other Metallica works.
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