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The measure of a flop. - 16%

hells_unicorn, September 26th, 2007

I’ve often wondered what the best way to measure the level that a particular album flops. Is it the lack of rave reviews, the bottoming out of sales after a brief run at the top (which can only occur with an established act, such as this one, in which case initial sales are based completely on anticipation) or perhaps the seeming discontent among the fan base? Although there would be a strong case to make that these all would rank at the top, my own anecdotal experience of how I came into possession of this troubled release takes the cake.

I had been giving guitar lessons at a store in my old home town in 2004 when a new student came in asking to learn some metal. When I asked what he was interested in, he basically stated “Anything but Metallica!” At first I was chuckled at the statement because I had seen the band as a joke in the aftermath of the Load/Reload debacles, let alone the classic soap opera that was the “Some Kind of Monster” documentary. However, about a month later he ended up donating some of his Metallica memorabilia to me; including some t-shirts, a poster from the Black Album era, and this single which none of his friends wanted.

I’ve come to see the fact that this low in Metallica’s story is underscored by the massive plummet in the resale value of all music associated with it. Not only that, but people actually swearing off the band and just giving away stuff from their better days, without any thought of the $10 or so thrown away in the process. And I am pretty sure that my own example was but one of a rather large amount, not all of which were older fans.

Basically this single is worth what I paid for it, not a damn thing. It is truly sad when you have 3 or 4 half assed remakes of Ramones songs (which any 12 year old can handle) as the highlight of a so-called release by a so-called metal band. James Hetfield’s voice has become so much a ghost of it’s former self that he can’t even put an inch of attitude into songs written for a singer with a 4 or 5 note range. Between the tinny high snare drum sound, the overloud cymbals, and the drastically bass ridden kick drum there is no middle to speak of in the drums, which was not the case with the original versions of these songs, which were recorded more than 2 decades before this was. The guitar tone is all mud and zero crunch; although not unheard of on certain grunge albums, it definitely clashes heavily with the punk genre.

Although the production of the edited version of this single seems a bit tweaked and a lot of the needless repetition has been taken out, “St. Anger” is still a flamboyant turd sandwich with zero meat. If you listen closely you can literally hear the diarrhea-like mustard of the cuisine perspiring from the strings of the down tuned guitars as they puke out half-assed emo-core riffs and occasional stops and starts. The tinny drums provide such a concentrated and revolting zing to the flavor that the stomach bug carrying victim who produced the mustard probably mixed the mustard seeds with wasabi sauce. Hetfield’s vocals are the soggy, rotten lettuce that is slightly more powerful than the zing of the drums with its putrid stench. And the moldy bread that holds this cesspool of noise together is the follow-the-guitar bass line provided by Bob Rock. And for you music video enthusiasts out there, we have a nice little side of rat urine drenched potato ends that appear in the form of 4 guys dressed in rap/rock apparel trying to look tough by playing to an audience of prison inmates.

The thought that anyone in metal circles can defend this pile of garbage is beyond my comprehension, let alone the idea that someone would assert that this would be a hot topic for any stretch of time in the positive sense. The summer after the LP was released it sold 2 million copies, most of the buyers probably either kids too young to remember the pre-Black Album era or old time Metalicultists who would follow James and Lars into a goat’s scrotum before criticizing their work. In the end, it seems that reasoning minds have prevailed and no one is ashamed to say that the Emperor has no clothes. Thank God!