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

Updated on August 14, 2018
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Ara is a Journalism graduate from California State University Northridge who is looking to always explore his writing opportunities.

A photo of Metallica (the band in 2003)

From left to right: Robert Trujillo, James Hetfield, Kirk Hammett, and Lars Ulrich.
From left to right: Robert Trujillo, James Hetfield, Kirk Hammett, and Lars Ulrich.

Track Listing for St. Anger

  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

Metallica St. Anger: the most criticized album of the band'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.

St, Anger front album cover

The cover for the album St. Anger symbolizes the anger and emotion in the album's music. It is one heavy and hard hitting album as new music fans are sure to find out.
The cover for the album St. Anger symbolizes the anger and emotion in the album's music. It is one heavy and hard hitting album as new music fans are sure to find out. | Source

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. Early on in their career, their original bassist Cliff Burton had died in a bus accident in Sweden. For the band, losing Cliff Burton was like losing a family member. Several years later, James Hetfield had suffered severe burns to his arm and upper body as a result of a pyrotechnics accident during a concert in Montreal, Canada. After the accident, there were doubts as to whether Hetfield would ever be able to play the guitar again. He was able to recover from his injuries only to have a battle with alcoholism. If a band wants to grow and mature musically, they have to experiment with different styles. Metallica started this process with their self-titled black album in 1991. They would experiment further with the albums Load (1996) and Re-load (1997). It would not be until 2003 that St. Anger would be released. The most noticeable difference with St. Anger compared to the band’s other albums is the drum sound. This is the one aspect that I believe has received the most criticism from fans more than anything else. I did not like the drum sound in the album either for a very long time. But St. Anger has a kind of ferocity in the guitar playing that we have not seen since And Justice for All back in 1988. This is one of the reasons that St. Anger should receive more credit than it does. At least the album is heavy, something that Metallica started with early in their career. It has the kind of raw, aggressive sound that even I enjoy. I prefer to listen to Metallica more than other American metal bands such as Helstar or Exodus. If people do not like St. Anger that is totally fine. But music is a creative way for an artist to express themselves. 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!

"St. Anger": the song

What are the Strongest Songs on St. Anger?

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!

St. Anger: the great aspects of it

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. I admit that St. Anger is different and many people are turned off by this. But if you give St. Anger enough of a chance, you may enjoy it like I do now. For those music fans that are open minded and willing to explore something different, St. Anger is one of those albums that you may like. On the other hand, if you enjoy Metallica’s earlier albums, St. Anger will be a disappointment. Is this Metallica’s weakest album? Most fans of the band will say that it is. I would say that because I’m an open minded listener, I would find it hard to say that it is their worst album musically. Even though Load and Re-Load have guitar solos, they do not have the ferocity and heaviness of St. Anger. Re-load has the song The Memory Remains which is one of the weakest songs in Metallica’s career because of the addition of vocals by Marianne Faithful which make no sense.


Best Song on the album St. Anger

What is the best song on the album St. Anger?

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St. Anger: the not so good aspects of the album

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. The song My World sounds like the song Creeping Death in the beginning. This is one of those songs that has lots of repetition and may be the weakest song on St. Anger. But even so, St. Anger has grooves, speed, and a ferocity that has not been seen since the band’s early days.

The Unnamed Feeling (official music video)

How good is St. Anger?

If I had to give St. Anger a score out of the 100 point scale I would probably give it a 75 out of 100 points because of the two mentioned reasons above and the fact that there is too much repetition in the song My World. Even so, with St. Anger Metallica attempted to show that they could experiment musically and still make a decent album. Kudos to Metallica for coming back with an album filled with lots of groove, raw guitar sound! They have shown me why they are the best heavy metal band to ever come from the United States. Metallica has been consistent in their songwriting and they are able to create music that you can have fun listening to for a lifetime. There’s a reason why Metallica is still performing as a band even after three decades in spite of their struggles. It is because they are united to play music that they enjoy and be able to express themselves through this form. Nothing has shaken them. Even though they lost Cliff Burton, the band has shown me that they have grown stronger over the years and Metallica beats Megadeth easily!

Updated Mini-Review and Score Update for St. Anger

So for an updated version of this review, let us go through the most notable tracks on this album. This article may be updated in the future but for now, this list only has a few of the songs that I believe to be the most notable from St. Anger.

  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.
  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.
  3. Dirty Window-this song has A LOT of tin can style drumming in it. Who really wants to clean dirty windows?
  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.
  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. After reviewing St. Anger in 2018, it now gets an 80 out of 100 points making it a better album than Load or Re-Load.

The extremely heavy song called Purify

Rate the Album St. Anger

Cast your vote for Metallica St. Anger

© 2016 Ara Vahanian

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