Rest in Peace
~Time Spent Listening to St. Anger~
June 5, 2003 – Present
As of late it seems I have been running into more Metallica fans than usual. Now a couple of these people I used to work with and some I currently do, while others are just hiding in the woodwork ready to pounce at a moment’s notice. Let’s get one thing straight, I do not hate Metallica. I actually really enjoy some of their songs. I feel there are far worse bands out there. See: Hedley, Nickelback, ACDC, and Def Leppard etc etc…
Metallica is, more or less, a group of individuals that are overrated, moderately talented, lucky bastards and have over-inflated egos. That being said, my beef is more with the fans and the decisions the band has made over the years rather than the music itself. However, I still feel that they are moderately talented and get waaaaay more credit than they rightfully deserve.
Believe it or not, I was once a diehard Metallica fan who had every single record including their box set “Live Shit: Binge & Purge”. I had multiple bunny hugs, t-shirts and wallpaper made out of circus magazine cutouts. I even have my lip ring because of Metallica. After watching their “Behind the Music” (circa 1996) and seeing Kirk with a hoop in the middle of his lower lip - I wanted one. The very first time I sang on stage was with my friends old band, “Another Wave”, at Bart’s on Broad here in Regina. Every time they would play Metallica’s version of “Whiskey in the Jar” they would get me up on stage to sing. I used to defend this band, Metallica, to the world. I use the term “used to” because I no longer have that dedication to Metallica. I am not excited when a record is released nor do I rush out to get tickets when the Metallicats come to my town. Sometime in the early part of the last ten years all my cd’s were stolen. I had been accumulating them for years. Of all the cd’s I miss from that old collection, other than the ones don’t remember having, the Metallica ones are the ones I miss the least. Here’s why…
My Friends of Misery
There are all kinds of people who do and do not like Metallica. Some dislike them for the right reasons; some dislike them for the wrong reasons. It’s like a two sided coin. Generally people who like Metallica grew up with Metallica, or they just don’t know any better. Some people may not have expanded their music horizons enough. I understand that but know this… Metallica is NOT the best band in the world. I am really sorry but they just are not. Music is subjective, however if you feel I am wrong by my previous statement I do not think you been subjected to enough music.
Yes, Metallica appeals to a large part of a small demographic of people. What I mean by that is a lot of rock fans do not like Metallica and a lot of metal fans do not like Metallica. The reason being is that Metallica is the easy answer. Metallica is “Well I really don’t want to nor have the time to see what else I like”. Metallica is cheering for the Detroit Red Wings. Sure they do well every year (well almost), but it’s a little too easy to like them… what’s the point. Metallica went from cutting edge to hanging out on the edge ready to jump. Metal fans like heavier music and rock fans are generally on the fence about Metallica. It’s boring. I find it much more satisfying to delve into the catalogues of the Replacements, Buddy Holly, T.Rex, the Manic Street Preachers, Steve Earle, Robert Johnson etc. If you don’t know who Robert Johnson is, stop now and look into him before you go any further. What I am getting at is that I don’t hate Metallica; I think they are far too overrated. Metallica fans are not “Yeah, Metallica is my favourite band.” They are “METALLICA IS MY FAVOURITE BAND AND THEY WILL BE YOURS TOO DAMMIT!!” There are so much more interesting things about music out there. You don’t believe me? Check it out. Start with one band on Wikipedia and keep clicking links. You will spend hours on bands that are more appealing than Metallica. Personally I was never cut out to be a metal fan, I tried and failed. Calling Metallica “METAL” with how far music has come is a complete and total farce!
What Do I Like About Metallica?
Believe it or not there is indeed music I like from Metallica and other things I like about Metallica. Metallica is not incapable of writing good music; they have, more than once. “Kill Em All” was the beginning of an idea, one that was influenced by the “New Wave of British Heavy Metal” or the “NWOBHM”. It was written by musicians in their early twenties for music lovers in their early twenties. It riffy and raw, something that angry kid’s just out of high school could relate too. The production quality was a representation of the time and not bad for a first record. Next came “Ride the Lightning” which was a little more evolved than the first but much the same, just expanded on. The third record, often the fan favourite, was 1986’s “Master of Puppets”. By the time Puppets had been released in stores, Metallica had found their niche and the ball was really rolling. Puppets, for the time, was a metal record of epic proportions. Unfortunately the amazingly talented Cliff Burton would leave us in a tragic bus accident that would take him at 24 years young. These first 3 records were really good records, not great but really good. They definitely held their own and then some. The following record with new bass player Jason Newsted entitled “…And Justice for All” is the bands best original work. It combined the best elements of Justice with the best elements of the next to come self titled album or “The Black Album”. It was angry…. It was really, really angry in the mourning of Cliff. The Black album was good but was totally aimed at commercial America and it showed. This is the first time the band would hear the term “Sellout”. I liked the band up until this point.
Not original material, but the best thing Metallica ever put out was their tribute to NWOBHM “Garage Inc.” It might have something to do with the French exchange student, Evelyn that came with me to get it that lunch hour grade twelve of November1998. Well it certainly didn’t hurt.
I also like “Load” and “Reload” ; (I know some people will hate to hear this) at this point Metallica learned how to write songs. Sure, the early stuff I like the music and riffs, but these records were far more planned out. The lyrics were great and the music was too. This would also mark the second time the band would hear the term “Sellout”. Selling out is something you do to sell records, something that you wouldn’t do if you weren’t getting paid. I don’t think Metallica did that at this time or with Black album. They were in dire need of a change as a lot had happened in music over the course of their career. If they put out the Puppets record again during this period it would have been a little dry for them. Change was good as it let them pursue other avenues of their creativity.The band had also gotten older which as an artist grows and changes so does their music.
I also like Lars. Yes Lars, is a little Danish asshole that says whatever he wants even if he hasn’t thought it out or speaks when he shouldn’t. People don’t like him for the Napster disaster… how long ago was that? I bet you are still downloading… Lars put out a product that he wanted to be paid for. Whether or not he had millions already was not this issue. Bill Gates doesn’t just give away computers does he?
The Turning Point
It wasn’t their next record “St. Anger” that was the turning point. I had waited a long time for this record to come out and despite knowing that it was complete trash from the get go, was willing to give it a chance. With “Kill Em All” they didn’t have the production quality because of the fact that they didn’t have as many people backing them, let alone the lack of time and access to technology compared to that of “St. Anger“. What should have come out at this time was a great, fresh and polished album. Instead they put out St Anger or as I like to call it “SHIT!” It was a record that was full of garbage lyrics, rain barrel drums and some of the worst riffs ever. The odd song that did a have potential like “Shoot Me Again” or “Invisible Kid” was ruined by at least one of these things. Not to mention, the greatly coveted drummer that had put out “One”, was getting progressively worse. St. Anger is a testament to that. I often wonder where my time went that I spent listening to that record, because I sure would like it back. All things aside, it was still not the turning point.
The turning point was the documentary they put out called “Some Kind Of Monster” right after the release of St Anger. A documentary spent on showcasing these “Metal Gods” feelings. Fuck Me! James, get back on the bottle you whinny little bitch because it’s apparent you can only make good music under the influence. I guess it’s hard to be big Rock Stars and make millions of dollars putting out music at your leisure. Eat me. If you do need a shrink to figure out that you fired/forced to quit the best thing you have in bassist Jason Newsted because he had some thing as small as Echobrain you need to seriously get a life. The worst thing Metallica ever did was to force Jason into leaving the band. Let’s take our most talented member of the band, not let him write for years and then when he wants to do something as minute as Echobrain on his own, which I might add would never affect Metallica, for him to quit out of jealousy. You just lost your most talented guy, your hype man and your edge. Now you are stuck with Rob Trujillo and Kirk Hammet's shitty backgrounds and no hype at live shows. Good Stuff, Metallica. Rob Trujillo looks like a chimp procreated with a brick layer and also sounds like shit.
It Doesn’t Stop There
What about Kirk Hammet’s shitty guitar playing; next to Dave Mustaine he has the worst tone in the world. I agree with my friend Chris when he says he prefers "tone" over "technique". Slash has more talent sustaining one note in comparison to Kirk ramming in a hundred over a few seconds. I’d be shocked if Kirk could tune his own guitar. Everything cool that Metallica ever wrote was their melodies and riffs. Thanks James. If you don’t believe me, see “Unforgiven” and “Nothing Else Matters”. Kirk also has thee worst hair plugs in the history of hair plugs. Chris is also right when he says you could tell back in the day who was a GNR fan and who was a Metallica fan because Metallica fans were too busy playing D&D while GNR fans were too busy getting laid.
There is a reason some of the most technically skilled guitar players in the world are session players; Kirk should join that list. Kirk would make a great session player: no creativity needed, just play what the artist needs and get paid. I know I am going to get “What guitarists do you like?”, so here are some examples of great guitar work.
In no particular order:
1. SLASH (GNR) - GODFATHER THEME
2. KEITH RICHARDS (ROLLING STONES) - HAPPY
3. BRIAN MAY (QUEEN) - SHEER HEART ATTACK
4. JACK WHITE (WHITE STRIPES) - I JUST DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH MYSELF
5. JERRY CANTRELL (AIC) - NUTSHELL
6. SCOTTI HILL (SKID ROW) - IN A DARKENED ROOM
7. JOE PERRY (AEROSMITH) - WALK THIS WAY
8. MARK KNOPFLER (DIRE STRAITS) - SULTANS OF SWING
9. JOHN FOGERTY (CCR) - SUSIE Q
10. BRIAN SETZER (STRAY CATS) - C'MON EVERYBODY
I guess Chris is such a good friend because we agree on this subject. One last thing I will mention that he and I agree on in regards to this particular subject is James’ lyrics. I will quote him for this as I could not say it better myself.
“The lyrics... oh my sweet fucking Jeebus the lyrics - Metallica writes songs like Shania "writes" songs... go through and highlight their favourite passages from the Big Book of Clichés and arrange them so they rhyme and put it to music. Of course, the clichés Metallica highlights are from the darker chapters of that book, the ones at the back.”
Here are some examples of James as the incredible wordsmith he is:
“I'm madly in anger with you
I'm madly in anger with you
I'm madly in anger with you
I'm madly in anger with you”
“Frantic tick tick tick tick tock”
Does anyone else think James looks like the lion from “The Wizard of Oz”… odd hey?
S&M: Great idea, terrible product.
Death Magnetic I hardly even remember; there is a reason as it is sooo forgettable. They tried to please their ever shrinking fan base with this one by going back to basics. What they failed to realize was that going back to that was no longer current. As much as fans wanted what worked in 1981, it was bound to fail in 2008. Metallica will never equal the influence of the NWOBHM such as Motorhead and gang but think about it: Motor head never changed and look at how well their last record did. Motor head still has their pride as they never compromised anything in the mean time. They have what I like to call “bonjovi syndrome“. This happens when a band attempts to go back into the vault after having risen to such incredible heights in their career that when they come down off that cloud they can no longer write as they can’t relate to what the masses need. They aren’t hungry anymore. They are no longer relevant and 'tis time to retire with their millions.
When these bands were pounding it out stemmed from passion it was apparent in the music. These bands have lost their passion.
The Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame is a joke. Think about it, a board of corporate America dickheads and industry folk that have dissed Cheap Trick and KISS should not be considered a compliment in my eyes. Should these people be allowed to nominate? Metallica can take their Rock N Roll Hall Of fame induction and shove it. The Sex Pistols sure nailed this on the head. Nice fauxhawk by the way James, way to be a metal god.
Someone said to me the other day:
“At least they're trying to move forward and not releasing a greatest hits album after every studio album for the last 20 years. What is that now, 4 greatest hits albums and 4 studio albums since Feelgood?”
What I had to say in response was:
“First of all Greatest Hits records are a cash grab... They are... but touring is a cash grab as well. Big deal, musicians need to make money too. Motley put's greatest hits while Metallica whores themselves via MP3 sales of live shows on their website (sounds like a more round about way to always have greatest hits out there, in a sneaky way to me). So putting out a greatest hits here and there hardly seems like an argument... 1997 was the debut of Swine and Reload, since both bands have both put out 2 studio records. So quit playing pretend and realize that Metallica doesn't have this big ball of momentum for a career...”
Next to Buddy Holly, Motley is my favourite band ever.
Motley knows that they are far from the best players and that they are going to change the world. I will be the first to admit that I like the CRÜE because they write great rock n roll songs and I like the image and the attitude. Secondly, Motley always stayed consistent and true to their selves.
I don’t hate Metallica, I just think they are overrated and not the be all/end all a lot of other people think they are. I may think they make a better cover band than original band. So next time you find it necessary to yell “Metallica is my FAVOURITE band!” just keep in mind it’s not mine.
I thought it would be fitting to end with a video I really like. Here is James appropriately covering Waylon Jennings “Don't You Think This Outlaw Bit Has Done Got Out Of Hand?”
Fade to Blah…