VIRTUAL SO WHAT!: St. Anger Track By Track Review
I took off-the-cuff notes for each song over repeated spins. I have elected to leave them unprocessed so as you can get an idea of how each cut instantly hit me.…
Raw, abrasive, very upfront, very brash. The main riff is really, really ‘Frayed Ends…’ type but given a huge rush of juice… there’s a whispering hum-type guitar behind the main riff that sounds like a chorus of demons
‘My lifestyle determines my deathstyle’… what a great line, accompanied by a particularly brutal sledge of riffery. TickticktickticktickTOCK. The last 20 seconds breaks into a very sped-up Sabbathy type riff, drums repeatedly hammered..
ST. ANGER 7.21
Riff is edgy, snare drum harsh, and then the whole lot cascades in before getting the V8 super-charge, Ulrich absolutely pounding the shit out of the kit blast-beat style. Then an almost bluesy mellow passage allowing James vocals to come through, before again bridging into brutality. The lyrics, as you might expect, resonate particularly loudly with JH, though I’d say everyone in this band can relate to this here Saint!
‘Fuck it all and no regrets…’ and you kinda understand where he’s coming from. The whole sound is so beautifully unprocessed, yet clear. Digital has helped their cause tremendously, allowing the tones to achieve a clarity and harshness that surely allows the mix to remain simple.
SOME KIND OF MONSTER 8.26
One of many relaxed, quiet one guitar intros which quickly gives way to a 1000 elephants…cannot believe how riff driven this material is (THIS MEANS VERY COOL!) It’s all in the chunk. What a sticky, sticky riff. First sign of a scratchy, loose, chicken-wire lead-type guitar ambling through the absolute stomp. Thick thick sound, and yet more speed-drumming to super-charge the song. It’s 2.00 before a vocal even thinks of emerging. When it does, it growls, and I gotta tell ya, this is the album that might’ve come in or around ‘…Justice’, but maybe it couldn’t have happened without the ‘Black’ album or any of that.
So many twists, so many turns, so many breaks, but this time not for the posture of being able to but for the joy of doing it.
‘We the people’
accompanied by an absolute flurry of drums, almost (dare-I-say it? blast
beat)…the snare sound is cracking… very rhythmic delivery of the chorus,
almost like rapping (DON’T PANIC I AIN’T TALKIN’ REAL RAP) and backed with
a really low gutteral under vocal. The song swings, really, it’s got a
swinging feel to it, but what’s swinging is about 400 lbs of concrete and
DIRTY WINDOW 5.25
Rata tat tat ta ta ta,
fast, repeatedly, sole intro instrument before unfolding into another fast
riff, the cacophony is awesome, Motorheady kind of affair, those drums
ring ring in your ears, pinging and thwacking. Quiet break to allow ‘I’m
judge and I’m jury and I’m executioner too’
Note to self: this really is a marathon sprint, a seducer (you will not by-pass any tracks here, there’s no skipping, no shuffling about) but boy-oh-boy, is it a mara---, nope, it’s a triathalon.
INVISIBLE KID 8.30
Rolling horses, giving way to swing but again, it’s the heaviness. There’s an inflection of the ‘Frantic’ hook-riff in there, this one’s edging on melodic, the most straight-forward song yet. There’s a superb ghosted melodic vocal from James riding in the chorus, dreamy, spiritual, as though an inner-voice. It’s as close to ‘relief’ as this album’s got so far, but it still hangs behind musical brutality and the energy required to listen to it is immense. But hang-on, it is 8 minutes plus, we’re at 5 and change and there’s a twist coming, a shifting of gears, a painful, almost mournful passage from James from which he is dragged by a galloping riff, some Alice In Chains-like vocal wanderings.
Interesting to note that whilst the vox are of course Hetfieldian, The trademarks are less distinguishable and the experimentation greater than for some years. They sit raw, unprocessed, unfiltered, a further sign of the growth in confidence.
MY WORLD 5.45
Could be a NWOBHM riff, explodes into a rhino-like metal charge before being broken by a multi-tracked, gang-vox like chorus from James.
Certainly enjoying playing with speed and aggression for the first time in many, many years. NWOBHM song!!!! Got hints of COC in the main riff too…With the ‘tallica twist. Plus some speed. And an off-kilter blasty chorus. Before caving into the word ‘suckah’ and swinging all over the damn shop. Before the riff and drums become speed metal. Yes, speed metal. People are going to be very surprised.
SHOOT ME AGAIN 7.10
little guitar scratch intro before bludgery of riff and drum kicks in.
Again more AIC-ish intro stuff, twisty, windy, quizzical, a little
SWEET AMBER 5.27
A sweet pretty little guitar intro, and just when you think a ballad’s coming, the riff is processed through some speed/aggression training and then it kicks the doors down and bolts the stable…it feels a bit like Sweet Savage’s ‘Eye Of The Storm’ from Lars’ own NWOBHM Metal Blade compilation album at times, then it breaks right down, slow and sleazy, off ‘how sweet are you? How sweet does it get!) before galloping again. Sonically this is the most in control so-to-speak, speedy, pacey, athletic almost, definite NWOBHM influence for sure though I think.
Unnamed Feeling 7.08
(A survivior of The Presido sessions, started life as balladic-‘Unforgiven’ type track, re-worked and re-shaped to fit the current contextual climate)
The guitar starts, another one in arhythmically before they both unite to lay down a hugely simple, towering mid-tempo riff. Thus a ‘Metallica classic’ feeling here. An epic. Towering riff, riding off mid-tempo, squirling guitars, funnel-vox (like they’re being sung through a megaphone) before they switch into gritty. Indeed, these are the most ‘recent Metallica-like structured’ of the vocals, the same sort of feeling as ‘The Unforgiven’
Starts like a raging punk song, breaks into the swing and lilt of aggro metal. Makes you lurch about and jump, mosh, pump those legs, tailor-made for some Trujilloism live, and then the drums cascade into speed off the chorus, this is just savage, like watching guard dogs strangling on leads as bloody meat hangs an inch from their frothing jaws. Honestly! There is speed but also in-the-pocket power.
Interesting, lots of returns to the NWOBHM sounds and feels, wrapped in punk attitude, given a scrub with wire brushes, un-polished if you will. Sabbathy too mid-song, right near the end bit of the ol’ Kyuss-flavored desert rock type open riffery, arrhythmic drum pattern. Unrelenting as it gets deeper.
All Within My Hands 8.48
It is relentless! Vox are very, very upfront, no hiding, not buried, the first layer in your ear. One thing with much of this material is you just do not know the twists and turns it’s going to take. But such brutality this late in the album? Unheard of. Excellent cascading choral word (AGAIIIIIIIIIIIIIIN) again some Chains-like arrangements and vox around, but merely as flavor not structure. Being the original alchemists, Metallica can infuse these melancholic melodies with raging anger, furious energy and rude, rude amounts of aggression. The sadness and struggle of the bridges give way to total thrash (old skool-style) and when JH barks ‘kill kill kill’ as the album closes, screaming, ripping his throat out, it’s an exorcism, a purging not just of his own emotions but of this band’s.