St. Anger

St. Anger
Studio album by Metallica
Released June 5, 2003 (2003-06-05)
Recorded May 1, 2002 (2002-05-01) – April 8, 2003 (2003-04-08)
Studio Metallica's HQ in San Rafael, California
Genre Heavy metal
Length 75:01
Metallica chronology
Garage Inc.
St. Anger
Death Magnetic
Singles from St. Anger
  1. "St. Anger"
    Released: June 23, 2003[1]
  2. "Frantic"
    Released: September 15, 2003[2]
  3. "The Unnamed Feeling"
    Released: January 12, 2004[3]
  4. "Some Kind of Monster"
    Released: July 13, 2004[4]

St. Anger is the eighth studio album by American heavy metal band Metallica, released on June 5, 2003, by Elektra Records. It was the band's last album released through Elektra, thus marking the end of the second-longest timespan between studio albums from Metallica, with nearly six years between the release of Reload and this album. It is also the final collaboration between Metallica and producer Bob Rock, whose relationship began with the band's fifth studio album, 1991's Metallica. St. Anger was originally intended for release on June 10, 2003, but was released five days earlier due to concerns over unlicensed distribution through peer-to-peer file sharing networks. The St. Anger sessions also mark the only time Rock played when the music was being recorded, filling in for the departed bassist Jason Newsted.

Newsted left the band prior to the initial sessions for the album, leaving Rock to take his place temporarily until a permanent replacement could be found. Recording of the album started initially on April 23, 2001, but was postponed indefinitely when rhythm guitarist and singer James Hetfield entered rehab for "alcoholism and other addictions". St. Anger is often recognized for being a radical musical departure from Metallica's earlier work; it features a modern heavy metal style, raw production, and no guitar solos. The artwork was created by Pushead, who had previously collaborated with the band.

Metallica spent the next couple of years touring to promote the album. St. Anger debuted at the top of sales charts in 30 countries, including the US Billboard 200. Upon its release, it received mixed reviews. In 2004, the album's lead single, "St. Anger", won a Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance. The album was certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for shipping two million copies in the US. St. Anger has sold nearly six million copies worldwide.[5]

Background, writing and recording

Metallica rented an old United States Army barracks on the Presidio of San Francisco and converted it into a makeshift studio in January 2001.[6] As plans were being made to enter the studio to write and record its first album in nearly five years, the band postponed the recording because of the departure of bassist Jason Newsted. He left Metallica on January 17, 2001, stating his departure was due to "private and personal reasons and the physical damage I have done to myself over the years while playing the music that I love."[7] Uncomfortable with immediately writing and recording with a new bassist, Metallica opted to include Bob Rock as bassist. The band stated they would find another bass player upon the album's completion.[6]

In July 2001, recording came to a halt when James Hetfield entered rehab for alcoholism and other undisclosed addictions.[8] Hetfield returned to the band in April of the next year,[9] but was only allowed to work on the album from 12:00 to 4:00 PM. Due to his personal issues, as well as Metallica's internal struggles, the band hired a personal enhancement coach, Phil Towle, to help them. This, and the recording of the album, was documented by filmmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky. Throughout three years of filming, over 1,000 hours of video were recorded, documenting the band's recording process. Subsequent to the album's release, Berlinger and Sinofsky released the edited material as the film Some Kind of Monster.[10]

Hetfield stated that the album was written with "a lot of passion".[11] He said, "There's two years of condensed emotion in this. We've gone through a lot of personal changes, struggles, epiphanies, it's deep. It's so deep lyrically and musically.[11] [St. Anger] is just the best that it can be from us right now."[12] The band purposely wanted a raw sound on the album so that Rock did not polish the sound while mixing. The band desired the raw sound because of the depth of the emotion they felt and did not want to "mess with it".[12] Rock commented, "I wanted to do something to shake up radio and the way everything else sounds. To me, this album sounds like four guys in a garage getting together and writing rock songs. There was really no time to get amazing performances out of James. We liked the raw performances. And we didn't do what everyone does and what I've been guilty of for a long time, which is tuning vocals. We just did it, boom, and that was it."[13]

After the departure of Jason Newsted (left) in 2001, Robert Trujillo (right) became Metallica's new bassist in February 2003 and toured with the band in support of St. Anger.

Guitarist Kirk Hammett commented on the lack of guitar solos on St. Anger, a departure from what Metallica had done in the past: "We wanted to preserve the sound of all four of us in a room just jamming. We tried to put guitar solos on, but we kept on running into this problem. It really sounded like an afterthought." Hammett said that he was happy with the final product.[14] Rock stated, "We made a promise to ourselves that we'd only keep stuff that had integrity. We didn't want to make a theatrical statement by adding overdubs."[13]

Drummer Lars Ulrich achieved a unique sound on St. Anger by turning off the snares on his snare drum resulting in a drum tone with far more "ring" than is usual in rock and metal. This sound received much backlash from fans and critics alike.[15] Ulrich said, "One day I forgot to turn the snare on because I wasn't thinking about this stuff. At the playbacks, I decided I was really liking what I was hearing—it had a different ambience. It sang back to me in a beautiful way." Regarding the backlash about the sound, he stated, "It's crazy, that kind of closed-mindedness."[15] Rock said, "I would say I've only [done something] this brutal [sounding] when I've done demos. It probably sounds heavier because it's Metallica, but really this was a 15-minutes-on-the-drum-sound type of thing."[16]

When St. Anger was completed, Metallica hired a new, permanent bassist. In February 2003, Robert Trujillo joined the band. He appears on the footage of studio rehearsals of St. Anger in its entirety, which was included on DVD in the album package.[6]

Album artwork

Brian "Pushead" Schroeder designed the album cover and interior artwork for St. Anger. Pushead has designed a number of items for Metallica in the past, including liner artwork of ...And Justice for All, several single covers, and many T-shirts; however, the album marks his first studio album cover art for the band. Originally, according to Metallica's official website, four different limited color variations of the cover were planned, but the idea was eventually scrapped.[17]

Release and promotion

St. Anger was released on June 5, 2003. It was originally scheduled for June 10, but due to Metallica's previous battle with Napster, and fear that it would be released illegally onto peer-to-peer file sharing networks, the band pushed the release date ahead by five days.[18][19] A special edition of the album was released with a bonus DVD, featuring live, in-the-studio rehearsals of all of the St. Anger tracks. First week sales of the album were 417,000 copies,[20] and it debuted at number 1 on the U.S. Billboard 200, as well as in 30 other countries around the world.[21] In 2004, Metallica won the award for Best Metal Performance, for the title track.[22]

Metallica playing live, in support of St. Anger.

After St. Anger's release, Metallica embarked on a tour that lasted nearly two years. The first leg was the U.S. 2003 Summer Sanitarium tour with support from: Limp Bizkit, Deftones, Linkin Park, and Mudvayne. After Summer Sanitarium, the band began the Madly in Anger with the World Tour with support from Godsmack (and Slipknot on certain European dates), which lasted until late 2004. The St. Anger songs "Frantic", "St. Anger", "Dirty Window" and "The Unnamed Feeling" were performed frequently during the tour. "Sweet Amber" and "Some Kind of Monster" were also played live, but not as often as other songs on the album.[23] The album tracks were altered when played live; sometimes they were shortened, or in some cases a guitar solo was added.[24] Sometimes, only one song from the album was played live. By 2009, the songs from St. Anger were completely absent from Metallica's set lists. The last time any song was performed from the album on a major tour was "Frantic" on October 21, 2008, in Glendale, Arizona,[23] although "Dirty Window" and "Frantic" were performed again on December 10, 2011, during the last concert of Metallica's special and private 30th Anniversary Tour, in San Francisco, California. "St. Anger" was also played again during the "Metallica by Request" tour in 2014 when it was voted by the fans. In October 2007, "All Within My Hands" was performed live for the first time, acoustically, at both nights of the Bridge School Benefit concerts.

Metallica also released four singles from St. Anger. The order of the releases was: "St. Anger", "Frantic", "The Unnamed Feeling" and "Some Kind of Monster". On the U.S. Mainstream Rock chart, these singles charted at number 2, number 21, number 28 and number 18, respectively.[25] Promotional music videos were also made for all four of the songs. These videos can be found on Metallica's DVD video collection, titled The Videos 1989-2004, and the video for "Some Kind of Monster" can also be found on the film Some Kind of Monster.

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
Encyclopedia of Popular Music[29]
Entertainment WeeklyB+[30]
Pitchfork Media0.8/10[32]
Rolling Stone[33]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide[34]

St. Anger received mixed to positive reviews from critics; the album holds a score of 65 out of 100, based on 20 reviews, on review-aggregating website Metacritic.[26] Adrien Begrand of PopMatters took both sides, saying: "While it's an ungodly mess at times, what you hear on this album is a band playing with passion for the first time in years."[37] Producer Bob Rock said that it was intended to sound like "a band jamming together in a garage for the first time, and the band just happened to be Metallica."[6] Talking about the album, Greg Kot of Blender said, "It may be too late to rehabilitate Metallica's image, but once again, their music is all about bringing the carnage."[28] Writing for NME, Ian Watson said that:

...the songs are a stripped back, heroically brutal reflection of this fury. You get the sense that, as with their emotional selves, they've taken metal apart and started again from scratch. There's no space wasted here, no time for petty guitar solos or downtuned bass trickery, just a focused, relentless attack.[31]

Johnny Loftus of AllMusic praised the album and described it as a "punishing, unflinching document of internal struggle—taking listeners inside the bruised yet vital body of Metallica, but ultimately revealing the alternately torturous and defiant demons that wrestle inside Hetfield's brain. St. Anger is an immediate record."[27] Barry Walter of Rolling Stone magazine also had a positive reaction to the direction taken in "St. Anger", stating: "No wonder there's an authenticity to St. Anger's fury that none of the band's rap-metal followers can touch." He also went further to note the lack of commercial influence and modern rock aspects of previous albums, continuing: "There's no radio-size, four-minute rock here, no pop-friendly choruses, no ballads, no solos, no wayward experimentation."[33]

Although many reviews of St. Anger were positive, some reviewers had a strong distaste for the album. Brent DiCrescenzo of Pitchfork strongly disliked the album and criticized Ulrich and Hammett, saying that Ulrich was "playing a drum set consisting of steel drums, aluminum toms, programmed double kicks, and a broken church bell. The kit's high-end clamor ignored the basic principles of drumming: timekeeping," he added, "Hetfield and Hammett's guitars underwent more processing than cat food. When they both speedstrummed through 'St. Anger', and most other movements, [Hetfield and Hammett] seemed to overwhelm each other with different, terrible noise. Also the duration of most songs made it boring to hear them."[32] PopMatters reporter Michael Christopher said "St. Anger dispenses with the recent spate of radio friendly pleasantries in favor of pedal to the floor thrash, staggered and extended song structures, quick changes and a muddled production that tries to harken back to the Kill 'Em All days."[38]

Track listing

All tracks written by James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett and Bob Rock. 

No. Title Length
1. "Frantic"   5:50
2. "St. Anger"   7:21
3. "Some Kind of Monster"   8:26
4. "Dirty Window"   5:25
5. "Invisible Kid"   8:30
6. "My World"   5:46
7. "Shoot Me Again"   7:10
8. "Sweet Amber"   5:27
9. "The Unnamed Feeling"   7:10
10. "Purify"   5:14
11. "All Within My Hands"   8:48
Total length:



Session members


St. Anger Rehearsals DVD


Chart (2003) Peak
Australian Albums (ARIA)[39] 1
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[40] 1
Canadian Albums (RPM)[41] 1
Danish Albums (Hitlisten)[42] 1
Dutch Albums (MegaCharts)[43] 2
Finnish Albums (Suomen virallinen lista)[44] 1
French Albums (SNEP)[45] 1
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[46] 1
Greek Albums (IFPI Greece)[47] 1
Japanese Albums (Japanese Albums Chart)[48] 1
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[49] 1
Polish Albums (OLiS)[50] 1
Portuguese Albums (AFP)[51] 1
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[52] 1
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[53] 2
UK Albums (OCC)[54] 3
US Billboard 200[55] 1


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Brazil (ABPD)[56] Gold 50,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[57] 2× Platinum 200,000^
Finland (Musiikkituottajat)[58] 2× Platinum 40,000[58]
Germany (BVMI)[59] 3× Platinum 600,000^
Greece (IFPI Greece)[60] Platinum 20,000^
Japan (RIAJ)[61] Platinum 200,000^
Poland (ZPAV)[62] Gold 35,000*
United States (RIAA)[63] 2× Platinum 2,000,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[64] Gold 100,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

Preceded by
How the West Was Won by Led Zeppelin
Billboard 200 number-one album
June 15, 2003 - June 21, 2003
Succeeded by
Dance With My Father by Luther Vandross
Preceded by
Innocent Eyes by Delta Goodrem
Australian ARIA Albums Chart Number-one album
June 16, 2003 - June 29, 2003
Succeeded by
Vulture Street by Powderfinger


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External links

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