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Metal - Released January 1, 1991 | Virgin EMI

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
After the muddled production and ultracomplicated song structures of ...And Justice for All, Metallica decided that they had taken the progressive elements of their music as far as they could and that a simplification and streamlining of their sound was in order. While the assessment made sense from a musical standpoint, it also presented an opportunity to commercialize their music, and Metallica accomplishes both goals. The best songs are more melodic and immediate, the crushing, stripped-down grooves of "Enter Sandman," "Sad but True," and "Wherever I May Roam" sticking to traditional structures and using the same main riffs throughout; the crisp, professional production by Bob Rock adds to their accessibility. "The Unforgiven" and "Nothing Else Matters" avoid the slash-and-burn guitar riffs that had always punctuated the band's ballads; the latter is a full-fledged love song complete with string section, which works much better than might be imagined. The song- and riff-writing slips here and there, a rare occurrence for Metallica, which some longtime fans interpreted as filler next to a batch of singles calculated for commercial success. The objections were often more to the idea that Metallica was doing anything explicitly commercial, but millions more disagreed. In fact, the band's popularity exploded so much that most of their back catalog found mainstream acceptance in its own right, while other progressively inclined speed metal bands copied the move toward simplification. In retrospect, Metallica is a good, but not quite great, album, one whose best moments deservedly captured the heavy metal crown, but whose approach also foreshadowed a creative decline. ~ Steve Huey
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Metal - Released November 10, 2017 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

Distinctions Best New Reissue
Metallica, a band stronger than The Beatles? Without a doubt if you consider sound power, but in terms of remastered editions featuring “a few” bonuses, the award might also go to the Four Horsemen if you compare the “Deluxe” edition of their third album to the Fab Four’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band Anniversary (Super Deluxe Edition). In it, you’ll find the equivalent of no less than ten fully-packed CDs for this Master Of Puppets that many consider, rightly or wrongly, as Metallica’s own Sgt. Pepper's. Well, it’s true that you’ll struggle finding any defect in the armour of such a monument. And its lengthy gestation period, highlighted through archives at various stages of development, will no doubt reinforce the belief that the band was touched by grace at this very moment in their history.A few rare critics begrudge this album for not having been as surprising as its two predecessors. Indeed the general structure of Master… , as well as the majority of its titles, can be compared with Ride The Lightning from the first frantic title Battery, in the same vein as Fight Fire With Fire, to the epic final of Damage Inc., wildly evoking a sped-up version of Creeping Death. There is also a false ballad halfway through, Welcome Home (Sanitarium), reusing in essence the same ingredients as Fade To Black and the finely chopped instrumental of Orion, with a very vague similarity with The Call Of Ktulu… However while this third attempt can be seen as a synthesis of the previous two, Master… is by far the most accomplished in the sense that, for the first time, Metallica had the time and means to refine and polish their compositions to the point of almost perfection. Even when compared with recent productions, the album is technically inevitable and unrivalled.In detail, the value of this remastered edition is not so much the lifting done to the original work, but rather everything else around it. Ever since Metallica’s first official live album Live Shit: Binge & Purge, we’ve been used to them not doing things halfway. But this goes beyond everything you could have imagined, even when compared with the remastered versions of Kill 'em All and Ride The Lightning. The band emptied all their drawers and sorted them out to enrich the album − in every sense of the word. First and foremost you’ll be delighted with the numerous drafts, which can certainly be recommended to aspiring musicians. The same applies to demoes, at different levels of development, and instrumental versions, which reveal numerous hidden details. You’ll probably not listen to James (and his “wananananas”) and Kirk’s personal tapes or the “writing in progress” versions recorded in Metallica’s famous “garage” over and over again, but the two highlights of these archives − The Prince, in a quite accomplished first approach to the title borrowed from Diamond Head, and the cover of Fang’s The Money Will Roll Right In, which was abandoned on the way – are both worth several listens.The colossal album only brings division among fans when discussing its ranking among Metallica’s best albums − although it would always make the podium. The new approach offered here might sway a few more votes for the first position. But beyond a well deserved and convincing highlight of the quality of Master…, this album is also the undeniable accomplishment of the Cliff Burton era. An easily discernable period in the sense that the bass was beautifully put forward. And for good reason! Far from being a simple bass player, Cliff was both a driving force in terms of creativity and inspiration as and a generous and calm character, balancing and “harmonising” the relations within Metallica. As we’ll see later, his mediating role would have more than once been useful between Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield. Some even wonder if Kirk Hammett didn’t just stop getting better after this album, without Cliff’s mental and instrumental boosts.The bass player’s role is obvious in the concerts featured in this edition with, for some of them, an exceptional sound quality. It’s also worth noting that Cliff’s very last concert is featured in this edition, at Stockholm’s Solnahallen on September 26th, 1986, a few hours before the tour bus accident that claimed his life. In this instance no one will complain about the “bootleg” quality of the recording. No matter what Jason Newsted – whose auditions and first concert with Metallica are included – brought to the table, it’s clear the band lost much more than a simple musician with Cliff Burton. The main argument of those who place Master… at the top of their ranking is precisely what …And Justice For All and the “Black Album” (Metallica) are missing: Cliff Burton, period! With the great care given to this remastered version of Master…, it is obvious that Lars, James and Kirk wanted to pay tribute to the one who brought them so much. © JPS/Qobuz
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Metal - Released January 1, 2008 | Virgin EMI

Distinctions 8/10 de Volume
Call Death Magnetic Kirk Hammett's revenge. Famously browbeaten into accepting Lars Ulrich and producers Bob Rock's dictum that guitar solos were "dated" and thereby verboten for 2003's St. Anger -- a fraught recording chronicled on the 2004 documentary Some Kind of Monster -- Metallica's lead guitarist dominates this 2008 sequel, playing with an euphoric fury not heard in years, if not decades. This aesthetic shift isn't because Hammett suddenly rules the band: powerless to add solos to St. Anger, he couldn't reinstate them without the blessing of Ulrich and James Hetfield, the politburo of Metallica. The duo suffered some combination of shame and humility in the wake of the muddled St. Anger and Monster, convincing these two unmovable forces to change direction. They ditched longtime producer Rock -- who'd helmed every album since 1991's breakthrough blockbuster Metallica -- in favor of Rick Rubin, patron saint of all veteran rockers looking to reconnect with their early spark. Rubin may be the go-to producer for wayward superstars but as the producer of Slayer, he's also rooted in thrash, so he understands the core of Metallica's greatness and gently steers them back to basics on Death Magnetic. Of course, Metallica's basics are pretty complex: intertwined guitar riffs, frenetic solos, and thunderous double-bass drums stitched together as intricate seven-minute suites. Metallica slowly weaned themselves away from labyrinthine metal during the '90s, tempering their intensity, straightening out riffs, spending nearly as much time exploring detours as driving the main road, all the while losing sight of their identity. This culminated in the confused St. Anger, a transparent and botched attempt at returning to their roots, crippled by the chaos surrounding the departure of bassist Jason Newsted. With all their problems sorted out in public -- including replacing Newsted with Robert Trujillo, who acquiesces to the Metallica custom of being buried far, far in the mix -- the group embraces every gnarled, ugly thing they eschewed in the years since "Metallica." Death Magnetic bounces the band back to the days before Bob Rock, roughly sounding as if it could come after ...And Justice for All. Such a deliberate revival of the glory days can be tricky, as it could make a group seem stuck in the past -- or, just as badly, they can get essential elements wrong -- but Death Magnetic is a resounding success because they hunker down and embrace their core strengths, recognizing that their greatest asset is that nobody else makes noise in the same way as they do. That's the pleasure of Death Magnetic: hearing Metallica sound like Metallica again. Individual songs and, especially, Hetfield's lyrics -- less the confessional ballast of St. Anger, more a traditional blend of angst and terror -- are secondary to how the band sounds, how they spit, snarl, and surge, how they seem alive. Metallica isn't replicating moves they made in the '80s, they're reinvigorated by the spirit of their early years, adding shading they've learned in the '90s, whether it's the symphonic tension of "The Unforgiven III" or threading curdled blues licks through the thrash. Listening to the band play, it's hard not to thrill at Metallica's mastery of aggression and escalation. There is no denying that the band is older and settled, no longer fueled by the hunger and testosterone that made their '80s albums so gripping, but on Death Magnetic older doesn't mean less potent. Metallica is still vitally violent and on this terrific album -- a de facto comeback, even if they never really went away -- they're finally acting like they enjoy being a great rock band. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Metal - Released January 1, 1986 | Mercury (Universal France)

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
"The amount of music and other material that comes in the set is immense, and paints a perfect picture of where the band was at the that time; that glorious time just before they became a household name and hadn’t evolved into the businessmen that they are today."
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Rock - Released February 1, 2019 | Virgin EMI

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Metal - Released April 15, 2016 | Virgin EMI

Booklet
Kill 'Em All may have revitalized heavy metal's underground, but Ride the Lightning was even more stunning, exhibiting staggering musical growth and boldly charting new directions that would affect heavy metal for years to come. Incredibly ambitious for a one-year-later sophomore effort, Ride the Lightning finds Metallica aggressively expanding their compositional technique and range of expression. Every track tries something new, and every musical experiment succeeds mightily. The lyrics push into new territory as well -- more personal, more socially conscious, less metal posturing. But the true heart of Ride the Lightning lies in its rich musical imagination. There are extended, progressive epics; tight, concise groove-rockers; thrashers that blow anything on Kill 'Em All out of the water, both in their urgency and the barest hints of melody that have been added to the choruses. Some innovations are flourishes that add important bits of color, like the lilting, pseudo-classical intro to the furious "Fight Fire with Fire," or the harmonized leads that pop up on several tracks. Others are major reinventions of Metallica's sound, like the nine-minute, album-closing instrumental "The Call of Ktulu," or the haunting suicide lament "Fade to Black." The latter is an all-time metal classic; it begins as an acoustic-driven, minor-key ballad, then gets slashed open by electric guitars playing a wordless chorus, and ends in a wrenching guitar solo over a thrashy yet lyrical rhythm figure. Basically, in a nutshell, Metallica sounded like they could do anything. Heavy metal hadn't seen this kind of ambition since Judas Priest's late-'70s classics, and Ride the Lightning effectively rewrote the rule book for a generation of thrashers. If Kill 'Em All was the manifesto, Ride the Lightning was the revolution itself. ~ Steve Huey
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S&M

Metal - Released January 1, 1999 | Virgin EMI

After 1988's ...And Justice for All, Metallica pared down its progressive, heavy metal sound. During the '90s, the band's studio releases grew slicker and more produced, resulting in mostly radio-friendly, good ol' boy metal. By the end of the decade, Metallica was established as the pioneer of modern metal, but the band hadn't done anything innovative, arguably, in ten years. In April 1999, the group performed two concerts with the San Francisco Symphony, and the result was S&M, a two-disc collection of the concerts. Overall, the album successfully pairs violin strings with guitar strings, but it's no surprise that the best tracks here are the older songs; their multi-layered, compositional style works well with symphonic arrangements. "Master of Puppets," "Call of the Ktulu," "One," and "For Whom the Bell Tolls" sound richer and fuller with violin, trumpet, clarinet, harp, trombone, and flute accompaniments, but "Sad but True," "Devil's Dance," and especially "Of Wolf and Man" range from haphazard and melodramatic to uninspired. S&M definitely has its moments, and not just with the pre-Black Album material: "Fuel" surpasses the furious pumping energy of the studio version, "Hero of the Day" stays poignant throughout, and "Until It Sleeps" has a wonderfully sinister feel. James Hetfield maintains his madman persona from beginning to end, laughing maniacally and grunting and growling at all the right moments. Overall, the symphony adds a macabre, ghoulish atmosphere -- it all sounds like a Broadway freak show or a revved-up Danny Elfman nightmare. Which is exactly what a Metallica album should sound like, even if every song isn't the best (or most appropriate) in the band's catalog. ~ Gina Boldman
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Metal - Released November 10, 2017 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

Even though Master of Puppets didn't take as gigantic a leap forward as Ride the Lightning, it was the band's greatest achievement, hailed as a masterpiece by critics far outside heavy metal's core audience. It was also a substantial hit, reaching the Top 30 and selling three million copies despite absolutely nonexistent airplay. Instead of a radical reinvention, Master of Puppets is a refinement of past innovations. In fact, it's possible to compare Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets song for song and note striking similarities between corresponding track positions on each record (although Lightning's closing instrumental has been bumped up to next-to-last in Master's running order). That hint of conservatism is really the only conceivable flaw here. Though it isn't as startling as Ride the Lightning, Master of Puppets feels more unified, both thematically and musically. Everything about it feels blown up to epic proportions (indeed, the songs are much longer on average), and the band feels more in control of its direction. You'd never know it by the lyrics, though -- in one way or another, nearly every song on Master of Puppets deals with the fear of powerlessness. Sometimes they're about hypocritical authority (military and religious leaders), sometimes primal, uncontrollable human urges (drugs, insanity, rage), and, in true H.P. Lovecraft fashion, sometimes monsters. Yet by bookending the album with two slices of thrash mayhem ("Battery" and "Damage, Inc."), the band reigns triumphant through sheer force -- of sound, of will, of malice. The arrangements are thick and muscular, and the material varies enough in texture and tempo to hold interest through all its twists and turns. Some critics have called Master of Puppets the best heavy metal album ever recorded; if it isn't, it certainly comes close. [In 2017 the band released a massive expanded edition of the album with a variety of physical package options, the most ambitious of which was an exhaustive box set that included a hardcover book, outtakes and previously unreleased interviews, three LPs, ten CDs, a cassette, two DVDs, a lithograph, a folder with handwritten lyrics, and a set of six buttons.] ~ Steve Huey
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Metal - Released November 18, 2016 | Virgin EMI

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Metal - Released November 18, 2016 | Virgin EMI

The most immediately noticeable aspect of ...And Justice for All isn't Metallica's still-growing compositional sophistication or the apocalyptic lyrical portrait of a society in decay. It's the weird, bone-dry production. The guitars buzz thinly, the drums click more than pound, and Jason Newsted's bass is nearly inaudible. It's a shame that the cold, flat sound obscures some of the sonic details, because ...And Justice for All is Metallica's most complex, ambitious work; every song is an expanded suite, with only two of the nine tracks clocking in at under six minutes. It takes a while to sink in, but given time, ...And Justice for All reveals some of Metallica's best material. It also reveals the band's determination to pull out all the compositional stops, throwing in extra sections, odd-numbered time signatures, and dense webs of guitar arpeggios and harmonized leads. At times, it seems like they're doing it simply because they can; parts of the album lack direction and probably should have been trimmed for momentum's sake. Pacing-wise, the album again loosely follows the blueprint of Ride the Lightning, though not as closely as Master of Puppets. This time around, the fourth song -- once again a ballad with a thrashy chorus and outro -- gave the band one of the unlikeliest Top 40 singles in history; "One" was an instant metal classic, based on Dalton Trumbo's antiwar novel Johnny Got His Gun and climaxing with a pulverizing machine-gun imitation. As a whole, opinions on ...And Justice for All remain somewhat divided: some think it's a slightly flawed masterpiece and the pinnacle of Metallica's progressive years; others see it as bloated and overambitious. Either interpretation can be readily supported, but the band had clearly taken this direction as far as it could. The difficulty of reproducing these songs in concert eventually convinced Metallica that it was time for an overhaul. ~ Steve Huey
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Metal - Released January 1, 1998 | Virgin EMI

For many years, Metallica's 1987 EP Garage Days Re-Revisited was the most sought-after item in their catalog; it was constantly bootlegged in the '90s, and often supplemented by a host of covers Metallica had released on singles and compilations throughout the years. By 1998, the band had understandably grown frustrated with this situation and decided to confront the problem head-on by reissuing all these rarities. Savvy businessmen that they are, they also realized they needed to give hardcore fans who already owned all the covers a reason to purchase the new set -- hence, the expansion of the Garage Days EP to the double-disc blowout Garage, Inc. The second disc's rarities are balanced by the first disc's new covers, the bulk of which were recorded following the Reload tour. It shouldn't come as a surprise that these covers recall the blooze 'n' boogie heavy rock of the Loads, but what is a surprise is that Metallica seems to have found their footing in this style through other people's songs. Whether it's Bob Seger, Blue Öyster Cult, Thin Lizzy, Nick Cave, or the all-star jam on Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Tuesday's Gone," the band effortlessly makes the songs seem like their own, through a bizarre mix of respect and ballsy irreverence. Sure, it may not be nearly as raw as early Metallica, but it is a better listen than either of the Load records. And if raw is what you want, the equally diverse disc two provides all the thrills you could hope for. At one time, it might have seemed a little odd that Metallica would cover Budgie, Diamond Head, the Misfits, and Queen, but if Garage, Inc. proves anything, it's that the group's musical instincts, risks, and sense of humor have made them the greatest metal band of the '80s and '90s. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Metal - Released April 15, 2016 | Virgin EMI

Booklet
The true birth of thrash. On Kill 'Em All, Metallica fuses the intricate riffing of New Wave of British Heavy Metal bands like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and Diamond Head with the velocity of Motörhead and hardcore punk. James Hetfield's highly technical rhythm guitar style drives most of the album, setting new standards of power, precision, and stamina. But really, the rest of the band is just as dexterous, playing with tightly controlled fury even at the most ridiculously fast tempos. There are already several extended, multi-sectioned compositions foreshadowing the band's later progressive epics, though these are driven by adrenaline, not texture. A few tributes to heavy metal itself are a bit dated lyrically; like Diamond Head, the band's biggest influence, Kill 'Em All's most effective tone is one of supernatural malevolence -- as pure sound, the record is already straight from the pits of hell. Ex-member Dave Mustaine co-wrote four of the original ten tracks, but the material all sounds of a piece. And actually, anyone who worked backward through the band's catalog might not fully appreciate the impact of Kill 'Em All when it first appeared -- unlike later releases, there simply isn't much musical variation (apart from a lyrical bass solo from Cliff Burton). The band's musical ambition also grew rapidly, so today, Kill 'Em All sounds more like the foundation for greater things to come. But that doesn't take anything away from how fresh it sounded upon first release, and time hasn't dulled the giddy rush of excitement in these performances. Frightening, awe-inspiring, and absolutely relentless, Kill 'Em All is pure destructive power, executed with jaw-dropping levels of scientific precision. ~ Steve Huey
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Metal - Released November 2, 2018 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

As if coming up with a worthy successor to the incomparable monument Masters Of Puppets wasn't daunting enough, Metallica had to go through the loss of Cliff Burton, who was more than just a bassist: he was a kind of spiritual and musical guide. Although they would later call on the services of a psychiatrist (see the film Some Kind Of Monster), it was when they started work on this fourth album that Lars Ulrich, James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett really needed the services of a shrink. Poor old Jason Newsted probably could have done with some help as well, coming to terms with becoming the group's whipping boy, especially on this album where he was simply "eliminated" from the mix. Although Lars and James swore that they'd never remix the bass back into ...AJFA it's clearly much more present on this remastery and on the numerous live tracks that feature on this re-release.Consciously or not, the three survivors of the tour bus accident that killed Cliff on 27 September 1986 were trying to record an album that the he would have liked. With Cliff, the group's horizons had widened, and they had become a sophisticated band whose tastes ran from Bach to the high-flying prog rock of Rush, King Crimson or Yes, from the bluesy hard rock of Thin Lizzy to the southern rock of Lynyrd Skynyrd or Allman Brothers… It's clear that Lars and James took Metallica forward in this period, but they pushed their convoluted compositions to their outer limit, with the result being that …AJFA feels like a gigantic cabinet with countless compartments and drawers. Throughout the development period of the nine tracks on this double album (which dates from the last halcyon days of vinyl), things were never easy for Kirk or Jason, which is made clear by the many offcuts and first drafts included in this re-release (running from James's first audio cassettes in 1986 all the way through to the sessions with the whole band from October 1987 to January  1988).While Cliff's shadow hangs over this album, which is surely Metallica's most "progressive" album, the group was soon to take a turn in another direction. After all, it would have been hard for them to go much further into experimental madness. The paradox is that …AJFA brought the four-piece their first "mainstream" success with One. The the cut-down version made it onto the airwaves and MTV thanks to Metallica's first ever music video. © Jean-Pierre Sabouret/Qobuz
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Metal - Released January 1, 1997 | Virgin EMI

Metallica recorded so much material for Load -- their first album in five years -- that they had to leave many songs unfinished, otherwise they would have missed their deadline. During the supporting tour for Load, they continued to work on the unfinished material, as well as write new songs, and they soon had enough material for a new album, Reload. The title suggests that Reload simply is a retread of its predecessor, and in many ways that's correct -- there's still too much bone-headed, heavy Southern rock for it to be anything other than the sequel to Load -- but there's enough left curves to make it a better record. Marianne Faithfull's backing vocals on "The Memory Remains" complement the weird, uneasy melody, and "Where the Wild Things Are" has an eerie menace that Metallica never achieved on Load. There are also a couple of ballads and country-rockers that don't work quite so well (it's never a good idea to have an explicit sequel, as on "The Unforgiven II"), and that, along with a few plodding Metallica-by-numbers, is what keeps Reload from being a full success. Still, the towering closer, "Fixxxer," along with handful of cuts that successfully push the outer edges of Metallica's sound, make the record worthwhile. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Metal - Released November 18, 2016 | Virgin EMI

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Metal - Released January 1, 1996 | Virgin EMI

Delivered five years after their eponymous "black" album in 1991, Load captures Metallica settling into an uneasy period of maturation. Under the guidance of producer Bob Rock, Metallica have streamlined their sound, cutting away most of the twisting, unpredictable time signatures and the mind-numbingly fast riffs. What's left is polished -- and disappointingly straightforward -- heavy metal. Metallica's attempts at expanding their sonic palette have made them seem more conventional than they ever have before. They add in Southern boogie rock, country-rock, and power ballads to their bag of tricks, which make them sound like '70s arena rock holdovers. Metallica's idea of opening up their sound is to concentrate on relentless midtempo boogie -- over half the album is dedicated to songs that are meant to groove, but they simply don't swing. Metallica sound tight, but with the material they've written, they should sound loose. That becomes apparent as the songs drag out over the album's nearly 80-minute running time -- there are only so many times that a band can work the same tempo exactly the same way before it becomes tedious. It isn't surprising to hear Metallica get stodgier and more conservative as they get older, but it is nonetheless depressing. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Metal - Released April 15, 2016 | Virgin EMI

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Metal - Released August 12, 2013 | Virgin EMI

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Metal - Released January 1, 2003 | Virgin EMI

Metallica's first new material in over five years arrived after a flurry of non-musical activity that included a much-publicized spat over Internet file sharing, the departure of bassist Jason Newsted, and a lengthy stay in rehab for James Hetfield that suspended the recording of a new album indefinitely. Hetfield returned to the fold in late 2001. Still without a bass player, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett, and their newly sober frontman recruited longtime producer Bob Rock to man Newsted's spot, and creation of the album commenced in May 2002. St. Anger arrived a year later as a punishing, unflinching document of internal struggle -- taking listeners inside the bruised yet vital body of Metallica, but ultimately revealing the alternately torturous and defiant demons that wrestle inside Hetfield's brain. St. Anger is an immediate record. Written largely in the first person, it never warns of impending doom, doesn't struggle with claustrophobia, and has care neither for religion's safety nor its hypocrisy. (The religious symbolism of its title and artwork seems only to function as a metaphorical device.) Lacking the heavy metal baggage of these past themes, Metallica is left to ponder only itself and its singer's psychosis, and delivers its diagnosis on slabs of speed metal informed with years of innovation and texture. The record exists as it ends. As the lockstep thrash of the eight-plus minute "All Within My Hands" tumbles toward its final gasp, Hetfield is explicit in his aims. "I will only let you breathe my air that you receive," he seethes. "Then we'll see if I let you love me." Ulrich's drums sputter in fits and starts, but the guitars are already dying, shutting down as Hetfield stabs at the microphone. "Kill kill kill kill kill," he screams, and you have to check the wall for a splatter radius. It's a brutal, ugly end to an album that switches on like a bare light bulb in an underground cave. It blasts each corner with harsh, unfiltered light for 75 minutes, until the bulb is shattered with a combat boot, leaving disquieting after-images exploding on the backs of your eyelids. "Frantic" is driven forth by a snare drum that just may be made of iron, Hammett and Hetfield's guitars eschewing separate parts in favor of a roaring tag-team approach. A hint of the band's mid-'90s nod to alternative drifts in during a bridge, but it's quickly swallowed alive by the song's muscular groove, never to be heard from again. "St. Anger," the single, marks the first appearance of a vocal technique that lurks in the shadows throughout the album. As Hetfield groans, "I feel my world shake/It's hard to see clear," he seems manipulated by an unseen force, flickering like bad reception. It's unsettling, and startlingly effective. Hetfield's psyche is on trial throughout, and though he often expresses confusion and anger over his struggle ("Some Kind of Monster" and especially "Dirty Window," in which he becomes both judge and jury), the mechanistic rhythms of the band seem to give him strength. "Shoot Me Again" -- another seven-minute epic -- becomes Hetfield's sneering answer to himself. It lurches into gear, juxtaposing a deceptively soothing verse with a dirty guitar line that explodes in the song's titular money shot. The resonating cymbal cracks during its stops and starts are particularly satisfying, as you can imagine the members of Metallica facing each other in a circle, jamming the song's jagged melody down the throat of a solitary microphone. (The image comes to life in St. Anger's bonus DVD edition, which captures Hetfield, Hammett, Ulrich, and new bassist Robert Trujillo in their headquarters compound, shredding through each song on the album in its entirety.) St. Anger isn't a comeback, and it's not a throwback. The album is exactly what Metallica needed to make at this point in its career, after clawing its way to the top of the metal scrap heap, reeducating a generation of bands, and popularizing its genre beyond anyone's expectations. St. Anger looks inward with a hard eye, and while it finds some grinning demons in that pit, it also unearths some of the sickest grooves of Metallica's 20-plus-year lifespan. ~ Johnny Loftus
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Metal - Released September 23, 2013 | Virgin EMI

Artist

Metallica in the magazine
  • Re-justify
    Re-justify As if coming up with a worthy successor to the incomparable monument Masters Of Puppets wasn't daunting enough, Metallica had to go through the loss of Cliff Burton, who was more than just a bassis...