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This review is from: St. Anger [Bonus DVD Digipak] (Audio CD)
Okay, lets pretend that Master of Puppets and Ride The Lightening etc. did not exist. I know this may be hard for some of you. Basically, what I am trying to say here is judge this album on what Metallica ARE, not what they WERE. Imagine that Metallica are a new band, would you still feel the same?
My initial reaction to this album was. 'Oh Christ, now Metallica are trying to to go all 'Slipknot' by down-tuning and dropping all the 'uncool' solos in an effort to sell more records to 'da nu-metal kids'. That's not to say I don't like Slipknot - I thought there first album was a breath of fresh air.
This is much heavier I expected, which was a pleasant surprise. Quite chunky and beefy sounding, like Down but more polished and less raw, and not dissimilar to Slipknot (sic) at times. There are some satisfying chugg & grind riffing going on with driving rhythms - and you can actually hear the bass!
However, this album does start to get quite samey after the first few songs, and there is little variety. All the songs kind of blend into each other. You could easily take a part from any song on the album and paste it directly into another without any noticeable difference to the structure.
This is the major downside for me. There are some blinding riffs happening, but after a while everything gets a bit predictable. The songs could be cut in half (time wise) without losing any impact, as they only repeat themselves anyway. I think it might be something to do with the omission of solo's - as they often serve as a timely dissection & tempo change in songs.
On quite a few of the songs, they introduce a new riff / flavour in the final minute of the track. This really works, and freshens things up. Why didn't employ more of this in the main part of the song? That said, if I could do any better I would be in Metallica.
James' vocals sound a bit forced at times. It sounds like some of them are there for the sake of it, like they have been just slapped on top of the song, instead of intergrating with the song. A big bastard epic instrumental would have been nice, but that is harping back to another time once more (sic).
Some people have commented on the bad production. The production isn't 'bad' - it sounds like that intentionally. It's a matter of taste. Although I have to admit Lars' 'hollow' snare drum sound does get on my tits at times as it is pushed quite far forward in the mix.
The extra DVD is great and does enhance the listening experience - I actually prefer this to the actual album, as you get a better sense of what they are trying to achieve. I think the new bassist has injected a new energy into the band, even though he didn't actually play on the album.
Overall, If Metallica were a new band, I would say this was a solid effort from a band that had promise. Judged entirely on it's own merit I'd give St. anger 7/10. With the DVD there is enough in there to justify spending a tenner on this.