The first album that I'll be reviewing for this segment is the infamous St. Anger by Metallica. There've been a lot of hefty claims against this album made, like how Lars Ulrich's snare drum sounds like a trash can, the songs are the worst that Metallica have done, the production is terrible, and so on. So I put myself through this album, and here's what I think of it.
Yes, I have to agree that the snare drum sounds awful and can be more than enough to ruin the feel of some songs. Lars' drumming ranges from typical Lars to almost exceptionally mediocre, such as the reoccurring Lars-ism to do a punky thrash beat with only one bass drum per bar. The riffs are often mediocre (St. Anger's entire structure flows around a generic descending chord structure), the lyrics are typical angsty-teenager tripe, and the whole thing seems shoddily put-together. I mean, this is Metallica, so of course it's not gonna be about proggy song structures or poetic lyrics or anything like that. The focus of any Metallica album is the thrashy aggression, right? Well, I guess there are some decent thrash moments on the album, but in the face of more extreme metal genres and bands, it pales in comparison, even to the older Metallica albums.
To give it some credit, there's a few decent cuts on the album (Personal favorites are Frantic, The Unnamed Feeling, Dirty Window, and All Within My Hands), and I can get that they may have been going for a more raw-sounding album. Some songs like Invisible Kid drag on and repeat far too many times, which really disrupts the flow of the album, or at least what little flow it seems to have. It would have been a much better thrash album had the band not focused on dragging things out to attempt complex song structures and focused on the most important thing in any Metallica album, which is the thrashy aggression. It's not terrible as everyone claims it to be, but it's certainly not a great album by any stretch of the imagination. I'd only recommend it if you're a die-hard Metallica fan and desperate for every scrap of metal that you can find.
So there you have it. St. Anger, while mid-range at best, it never really goes to the levels of piss-poor that everyone claims it does. Hell, it's certainly not as bad as a certain... OTHER Metallica album. (That one's next, as soon as I can find the spiritual strength to put myself through that abomination again and put my disgust into words.)