Sound — 3
Raw, passionate and aggressive are three words that I'd use to describe this album. That makes it sound pretty good, doesn't it? Don't be fooled. This album may have a raw sound, it may be very aggressive, and it may be filled with passion, but in the end, this album still sucks. Something that seems to annoy many people is the production quality. Honestly, I don't mind that much. If one of the classics like MoP, AJFA etc. had worse quality, would they not still be masterpieces? The main thing that annoys me is the lyrical and compositional quality. There's barely anything there. The songs could've easily been conmposed by a crappy nu-metal band. The lyrics could've been written by some angsty high school dropout. Just about every song has been stretched out way too far, with riffs being repeated ridiculous amounts of time (the beginning of "Some Kind of Monster" should be enough to make you see what I'm talking about). However, it's not all negative. The thing I do like about this album is how much passion there is in it. You can particularly hear it in Hetfield's voice. Listen to the song Frantic. When he goes, "Frantic-tic-tic-tic-tic-tic-toc, you can really hear the passion in is voice, and by the end he's breathlessly screaming it. Let's not forget the fact that there is not one single solo on this metallica album. That's right, you heard me. A Metallica album without a single solo. What happened to Hammet's skills? And let's not forget about the drums. Dear god, the drums. It's not that Lars does a bad job on this album, the drumming is actually pretty intense. But on this album, the snare sounds like a freaking trash can lid. In the end, I was definitely not impressed. Load and ReLoad were bad enough, but when the Load phase ended, I was hoping they'd go back to real metal. They made it eventually, but not before this abysmal pit stop from hell.
Lyrics — 2
The lyrics on this album annoy me greatly. James Hetfield has come up with some real masterpieces when it comes to lyrics, so what the hell is up with this crap? I know, a lot of you will say that after 30 years and 7 albums, coming up with good lyrics may be hard. That means they can drop in quality a bit. Not from excellent to pure crap in one step. Half the time it sounds like they're trying to make it rhyme. Like these lyrics from the title track: "I feel my world shake, like an earth quake. Hard to see clear, is it me? is it fear?" Terrible, right? That's not even the worst of it. They truly have every type of bad lyrics here. Lyrics that are just plain terrible (which the album is full of), lyrics that are ripped off songs that they've already made (The line from the title track, "f--k it all and no regrets, I hit the lights on these dark sets" is basically a rip off their Master of Puppets song, "Damage Inc."), they've even got some emo angsty crap (Invisible Kid is full of this crap). As for the vocal delivery, well it's... raw and passionate. One of the only things I like about this album. James Hetfield's voice is full of passion. As previously mentioned, there's the bit in Frantic. Then, there's also the part in "Dirty Window" where he's pretty much yelling out "Projector, protector, rejector" etc. You really can hear the passion in his voice. Overall, the lyrics are pure crap. You can find masterpieces on almost all the other albums, but if you want any good lyrics at all, stay the hell away from this album. As for vocals, if you're looking for messy but raw and passionate vocals, I guess this is a good album for that.
Overall Impression — 4
And now, I'll split this album up into the individual tracks. 01.Frantic: ah the opening track. This one isn't too bad. The guitars are... interesting, if nothing else. The snare doesn't sound as bad as on other tracks. The lyrics... aren't great, but seem to be better than on other tracks. And of course, there's the chorus, where James passionately almost screams, "Frantic-tic-tic-tic-tic-toc!" I'm not saying that this song is great, but it is tolerable, unlike most of this album. 02.St. Anger: here we are, the title track. So many things wrong with this song. Here you can clearly hear the trash can lid style snare drums as soon as they're played. Did that hurt your ears enough? It's not over yet. A simple beat is played next, one that would usually sound fitting. But in this case it's just going to make you scream in agony as the clashing, ringing sound of the snare drum is played over and over again. And next? Well enter the abysmal lyrics. "St. Anger on my neck, he never gets respect"... what the hell is that? Again, it sounds as though they may just be trying to rhyme. And then this verse is played again, but with a more crappy and mainstream-ish sound, as "You flush it out, you flush it out!" is sung in the background. Then, of course, the chorus, which starts off by ripping off one of their masterpieces (Damage Inc.), and ends up by with the incredibly lame line, "I'm madly in anger with you". Finally, the chorus is over. Your ears can take a break. Wait, that's not right. The whole thing is done over again! As if it wasn't torture enough the first time! And it's exactly the same, crappy lyrics and all! Then the ear splitting intro is played again, with the bridge on top. Of course, you can expect more abysmal lyrics here. Truly, this is one of the worst songs you'll ever hear. Avoid at all costs! Or, use as a torture device! 03.Some kind of monster: this song has been stretched to hell. They took a 3-4 minute song and turned it into an 8 minute song. Now, don't get me wrong, I love long songs. But this song isn't a long song. It's a stretched out normal length song. It's incredibly repetitive. Listen to how much each riff in the intro is played over and over again. And then, well the song starts. This is James at his worst on the album. It's more rapping than anything else in the verses, and the verses each go on for what should be 2 verses. See what I mean when I say it's stretched to hell? The chorus is incredibly unimpressive, and all around, this song is just boring. 04.Dirty Window: finally, another tolerable song. After the last 2 tracks, we need one of these, don't we? The lyrics really aren't that bad in this song, at least better than the rest of this album, and the guitars are both aggressive and catchy, a fairly good mix. But for me, the high point of this album is when James yells out "Projector, protector, rejector, infector! Projector, rejector, infector, injector, defector, rejector, detector!" They're probably just words that are made to rhyme, like a lot of the rest of this album, but the delivery is so passionate. 05.Invisible Kid: the worst thing about this song by far are the lyrics. Another example of just trying to rhyme, and ending up with incredibly crappy lyrics. Not only that, but the lyrics get incredibly angsty. "I hide inside, I hurt inside, I hid inside but I'll show you"... does that not sound slightly angsty to you? Take a look at the lyrics for the whole song. A good thing is that the snare seems to be pushed more into the background, so in this case it's not mind blowing ear splitting agony. There's a breakdown towards the end which isn't that bad. You can hear the passion from just about the entire band, particularly Lars. Aside from that, this song was stretched, the lyrics are ridiculously crap (even by this album's standard), and overall it's just unimpressive. 06.My World: this song has some catchy riffs... but not in a good way. You remember the bluesy style of Load and ReLoad? well you can hear it again in this song, now with the epic sounds of trash can lids banging together, and really crappy lyrics. Repetitive, boring, and just all around bad, imo, this is just another one to skip. 07.Shoot me again: another song with catchy guitar lines. This one isn't that bad. Again, you can hear the passion in this song, and the chorus does stretch on for a bit, but it's probably the best part of the song anyway. The biggest flaw is the pre-chorus. It carries on for way too long, and is too repetitive. With the whole "Shoot me again, I ain't dead yet", and then "Shoot me again, shoot me again, come on" or whatever, with the amount of times that those lines are repeated, it gets way too tedious. The bridge is pure aggresiveness, and I guess it compliments the raw sound of the album. The last chorus is played much more aggressively and passionately than before, but I think they went a bit over the top with it. Aside from that, this is one of the better songs on the album. 08.Sweet Amber: this is the second shortest song on the album, and it's so incredibly raw. The intro I found fairly unnecessary (the clean bit), it just takes away from the atmosphere set by the rest of the song. And the next riff was repeated a few too many times before getting to the point. But when you hit the lyrics, you'll probably hear what I mean when I say how raw this song is, particularly the chorus. It actually has some decent transitions between soft and hard, and unlike a lot of the other songs, the music actually complements the vocal styles. And the breakdown's pretty good, much better than what I was expecting, and leads perfectly into the next section. Lyrics still aren't anything special, but this is one of the ones you may want to listen to, though it is a little repetitive. 09.Unnamed Feeling: this song had potential to be pretty good... but many things ruined it. Parts of the song didn't suit other parts. It was too dragged out, as though they were trying to bore you. The unnecessary dragged out notes, the repetition, it's all quite boring. And the bridge is too angsty. The passion's definitely there. You can hear it from all the band members. But overall, aside from that, unimpressive song. 10.Purify: this song is incredibly aggressive, and equally as repetitive, which is surprising because it's the shortest song, so it's not a short song that's been stretched to hell like the rest of the songs on this album, it's just a repetitive song. The vocals and lyrics in the verses sound like a massive joke. Seriously, it is that bad. James is out of key in the chorus, and the chorus drags on for way too long. The breakdown also repeats itself way too much, then leads back into the chorus. The outro bit's not too bad. And that's about it. 11.All within my hands: this song is somewhere in the middle on the album... not one of the really bad ones, but not one of the not-as-bad ones. As with most songs on this album, it's been stretched too much. But the raw emotion in this song can be heard so clearly, and the transfers from clean soft riffs to sheer aggressiveness has got to be worth something. The lyrics are more coherent than most of the album, but not some of the best, and definitely still not very good at all. The ending is almost comical as Hetfield screams out "Kill! Kill! Kill! Kill! Kill!" over and over again. In the end, they could've ended the album off worse. It wasn't a bad close. Conclusively, this album sucks compared to Metallica classics like Ride the Lightning, Kill 'em All,... And Justice for All, and, of course, Master of Puppets. There are some high points, and some low points, but almost the entire thing was stretched out way too much, and the lyrics are truly crap. The aggressiveness of this album can only carry it so far, and in the end the bad qualities far outweigh the good. If you want to hear some real metal, pick up one of the albums I mentioned earlier in this paragraph. If you want your brain to explode from the sounds of trash can banging, terrible lyrics and a complete lack of solos, well go ahead and listen to this album. In the end, Metallica redeemed themselves at least slightly with the release of the following record, Death Magnetic, which in itself is proof that the legends of metal have not run out of ideas for classic riffs, great lyrics and all around good music.