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Awesome - 90%

SufferingOverdue, May 29th, 2003

It's been 6 LONG years since Metallica have put out something that hints at what their future sound is going to be, and I was very anxious about what they'd sound like. The reviews on Metallica websites sounded very promising but there's still no way to be sure without hearing it.

Upon hearing the groove riff kick in on this song, I had a feeling I'd enjoy it. The guitar tone is a lot heavier than the Load era's generally was, the drums sound a lot "busier" and the pace is definitely a lot faster. James' voice sounds somewhat like a cross between Load and the Black Album and Lars' faster drumming is somewhat like the 80s era but that's about as far as the comparison to the older stuff can go. What we have here is a totally new Metallica.

The song is quite punky in places, especially in the chorus, and generally has alot of energy. James shouts out "Fuck it all and no regrets" (also heard in Damage Inc) as a salute to all those who still can't get over the past 7 years in Metallica's career as St Anger blazes through several tempo changes. The ending part of the song sees James at his most aggressive in years yelling "Set it free!" before Lars shoots into more fast drum work.

Following on from the heavy intro is a very tame sounding clean verse, before going into a emotion charged and slightly "nu" sounding passage with backing vocals from Kirk, who sounds surprisingly menacing. The tempo changes mentioned in previous reviews are definitely present however don't be expecting anything like Dream Theater or Meshuggah because it's noway as abstract as those bands. This song dosn't follow a strict "verse chorus" scheme but parts of the song are repeated and it does have a structure of sorts.

I suppose the main disadvantage is the lack of a solo. There are areas where one could have been fit in, however I personally didn't really find that the lack of a solo took anything away from the song. Lars' snare sound is very tight and as mentioned elsewhere, does sound like a garbage can being hit. It will take some getting used to, however it adds an industrial vibe to the song which is very interesting. The production is pretty raw, very raw given that it was done by Bob Rock. Some would see this as a disadvantage but the raw energy it gives off is good enough for me.

Overall this new style might win back a few old fans but it seems most are already set in their ways to hate this song. It's a bit of a shame because Metallica are back making metal music, it may not be in the traditional or the thrash sense but it's just what mainstream metal sounds like in the year 2003. It's not hardcore, it's not punk, it's not thrash, it's not heavy metal - it's good contemporary metal. Roll on June 10th.