Metallica – St. Anger (2003)

For some godforsaken reason I’ve spent the last decade or so defending this album. I’ve even claimed on social media (and also in public, after too many beers) that St. Anger is my favourite Metallica record. After a while, I realized that I wasn’t actually trolling, and that I was being deadly serious. First things first though – that snare drum definitely explains my love for goregrind and the somewhat dubious genre production values held therein. I guess it also manifests unhealthily in my own drumming style, as my dustbin lid snare approach is sometimes raised as a chagrin point, especially during record sessions.

Anyways, onto Same Tango. A lot of the criticisms thrown at this thing do have ground behind them. I mean, yes, “Frantic” is fucking terrible. And yes, the songs go on way, waaaay too long. The low tunings and Hetfield’s baffling, child-like lyrical ramblings only highlight how ham-fisted the band’s approach at cashing in on nu-metal was. Unfortunately, not only did they fail terribly at doing so, but they dropped the album a long time after the genre uttered its last real death rattle.

That aside, this is my favourite Metallica album because its a shuffling, claustrophobic mess. It sounds like a rehearsal room recording, and it also contains some of the best shit Metallica have ever written. I raise you “All Within My Hands”, “The Unnamed Feeling”, “Sweet Amber” and “My World” for starters. “All Within My Hands” is easily one of the heaviest songs they’ve ever written, and its an interesting downward spiral listening to the whole thing unravel in the finale. “The Unnamed Feeling” (despite the cringe moment when Hetfield spits “get the PPPHHHHHuck away from me”) has a simple yet bizarre riff structure, with two guitars chugging essentially out of time with each other and the drums playing stupidly heavy for a song so slow. Again, its a total fucking mess, but it works on so many levels.

I’m not going to be able to deliver an Anthony Fantano grade analysis of why this is the best record, but I think I’ve written enough on it, especially considering you’re all just going to keep hating it. Oh-ahhhh!