By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
The vacancy meant two main things to Metallica. The first was that they had to record 2003’s St. Anger with producer Bob Rock playing bass. This proved to be no problem for Hetfield and Ulrich, as the album’s concept was simplicity and directness, though it must have peeved lead guitarist Kirk Hammett, who was left with no solos. Weeping along were the last of the die-hard speed-metal fans, for whom substantial measures of virtuosic twiddling were essential to the Metallica recipe.
Musicians must frequently wish that people would erase their damn memories before dipping into a new album. If such were the case, St. Angerwould have been immediately acclaimed as a great modern statement. The songwriting, backdropped by Hetfield’s rehab, is steel-edged, anchored by punishing epics such as “All Within My Hands” and the title cut. (Only Hetfield can sing a line like “God it seems like it only rains on me” and sound like he’s bragging.) And the thing’s worth hearing just for Ulrich’s drum sound, a digital-trash-can tour de force that clobbers all comers.
As it is, though, the fans have warmed very slowly to St. Anger. And to make matters worse, the disc just copped a Grammy for best metal performance, signaling possibly the only instance where a Grammy win will affect sales adversely. Not that the voters actually listened to the fucker, but they’ve been climbing all over each other to sew up the wound since dissing Metallica in favor of Jethro Tull’s Elizabethan lutes in the hard-rock/metal category back in 1989.
The other main fallout from Newsted’s departure has been the need to buy a new bassist. You’d expect that Metallica would not get stuck with a stiff, and they did not: They stole Robert Trujillo from (small world) the axis of Ozzy and Zakk Wylde, who stole him from Alice in Chains’ Jerry Cantrell, and the thefts go all the way back to Suicidal Tendencies. Robert Trujillo is an absolute beast on bass, a man who can add real feel and gnarl to Metallica’s low end, as the live-in-the-studio DVD included in St. Anger attests. And that’s maybe the biggest change since Dave Mustaine got kicked out back in 1983. Which makes things kind of exciting, actually.
Metallica began as a Los Angeles band. For the hundredth time, welcome them home.
Metallica play the Forum on Friday and Saturday, March 5 and 6.