Twenty years ago, Metallica would release one of the most divisive and infamous records in heavy metal history with St. Anger. A record that was riddled with problems the band was dealing with. With the departure of longtime bassist Jason Newsted before recording began, along with vocalist James Hetfield going into rehab, putting the recording of the record on hold until his return, the band was in a tailspin. With Hetfield eventually returning to the band, the recording began and the band had a lot of inner struggle and frustration with the making of the record.

Documented in the making of documentary Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, the band faced frustration, dealing with a new musical direction. Gone were the need for guitar solos and a focus more on a straight forward and rawer sound. The other known thing for this album is the infamous "trash can" snare sound on drummer Lars Ulrich's drumkit.

The record opens with "Frantic", a song with a nice, raw and aggressive opening guitar riff that gets matched with the corresponding drums. With Hetfield's vocals showcasing his aggression reminiscent of classic black album Metallica. The song continues its frantic (no pun intended) playing and delivery into Hetfield's panic and frenetic shouting into the breakdown three fourths of the way through before ending the song heavy and fast that Metallica knows how to do well.

Then the title track follows with a nice thrashy guitar playing that gets your fist pumping and headbanging before the rug gets pulled out from you. Such a sharp tempo change into a more mellow calming verse section before picking back up into a thrashy chorus, almost shocking the listener. The chorus brings back that classic modern Metallica sound. Fast paced thrash-style drumming, Hetfield belting from the heart and matching guitars, the song brings you back and keeps you going, especially with Hetfield's belting "fuck it all and fucking no regrets". Closing the track out with its opening riff and bringing the track to an end with a furious thud.

"Some Kind of Monster" is a unique song with elements of the modern Metallica sound but with intriguing dynamics. Starting with a gritty, almost bluesy guitar section and then fusing into an almost stoner/doom metal tone to the track when the drums kick in, reminiscent of bands like Electric Wizard. Then picking back up into a fast-paced d-beat style thrash drumming before going back into the same stoner/doom sound. Definitely a slow headbanger and gives off an almost progressive version of Metallica, which I actually kind of like. When the drums pick up and Hetfield's belting out his vocals, Ulrich's isolated drumming in-between the guitars is nice before leading into the chorus.

"Dirty Window" showcases the iconic "trash can" drum sound with another gritty opening riff into frenetic drum playing, almost sludge metal guitars over thrash drums. The beat randomly slows down and speeds up with impressive syncopation. A unique track of gritty, down-tuned sludgy riffing and playing which I like a lot and fits Hetfield's vocals when he's singing. The somber vocal sections show he doesn't have to scream or shout to get emotion across. One of the fast paced and shortest songs on the album.

"Invisible Kid" continue that raw aggression that the band aimed for on this record. Hetfield continues his more somber vocals on the track, conveying emotion adding to an almost nu-metal guitar riff. Songs like "My World" continue the sludgier sound of "Dirty Window" that works for the band in my opinion. "Sweet Amber" starts with another great opening riff from the band into the fast paced drumming of Ulrich. Vocals and guitar playing almost give off a bluesy/southern feel to the song, almost like a thrashier version of Clutch. Hetfield brings an eerie and aggressive tone to his voice on the delivery of the song's title and attitude.

Did St. Anger deserve all the hate and infamy? At the time of the release, it was a different Metallica at that time. The band went through struggles, musical direction, and emotion and it shows on the record as well as in the documentary about the making of the album. It's not Master of Puppets, and it's definitely not Lulu, but looking back at it and re-listening to it, it's a decent record. It has some good songs on it and kudos to Metallica for trying something different and not being afraid of what fans might think of the record. It might just be a good record the more you listen to it, if you can get over the trash can snare sound. It might not be the Metallica you grew up on, nor the Metallica that it is now. But looking back at it, I don't think we would have gotten a good follow up record like Death Magnetic without going through the hardship and turmoil that the band gave us on St. Anger. I recommend you giving it a re-listen and you might be surprised on how you stand on the record almost 20 years later.  

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