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Metallica - Some Kind of Monster CD (album) cover




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3.68 | 49 ratings

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4 stars I'm very surprised that more people haven't spoken up about this brilliant documentary. Yes, I know that St. Anger is a weak album in a lot of ways, but this film isn't as much about the making of St. Anger as it is about the band moving through one of their most crucial eras. The footage seen here surrounds the band with claustrophobic, unforgiving viewpoints that get right into the meat of what makes the band members tick, and how they have struggled to get along creatively as well as personally for what seems like many, many years. Not only are we should the present state of the member;s relationship, but the band's history is also delved into, and includes interviews with ex-members Dave Mustaine and Jason Newsted. Their opinions of the band are obviously more bitter and hostile at times than is reasonable, but it is also very interesting that the band allowed the filmmakers to show these other outside perspectives that more often than not painted an unflattering picture of them. It was clearly a brave choice to allow this film to continue, and I have a lot of respect for the Metallica guys because of that.

It's true that St. Anger was the album the band worked on as the documentary was filming, but that was just a coincidence. The real focus of this documentary are the relationships within the band, and James Hetfield's struggle to change his lifestyle and maintain it, despite all of the inner turmoil going on within the band itself. It's sometimes grueling to watch, but well worth it once the outcome is finally revealed. So if you're worried that the film is simply a 'making-of' for the St. Anger record, I want to assure you now that isn't the case. It's very worth watching if you're a documentary or a music fan of any kind. You don't even need to like Metallica's music per se in order to enjoy this film.

There are interesting parallels also between this and Let It Be, quite possibly the most well-known Rock documentary. For instance, there is a moment in which Metallica decides to abandon their initial place of recording in favor of another, much like how The Beatles switched studios in their film. Also, Hetfield brings in a therapist to hopefully instruct and held the band when necessary, but he ends up becoming an uncomfortable, unwanted presence that puts off the rest of the band members. Again, this is reminiscent of the presence of Yoko Ono during the Let It Be sessions.

Another slightly interesting aspect of this is that you do actually get to hear how the St. Anger record could have potentially turned out. Creative guitar solos, heartfelt lyrics and entire songs were ultimately scrapped in favor of the less-than-impressive work that made the final cut. Why was this? Well, because the band lacked creative direction at that point, and Cliff Burnstein in all his wisdom decided to push the band into making more 'current' Nu-Metal gobbledygook. So out went the solos and in went the down-tuned, sludgy riffs. The scene in which this transformation of the album's direction takes place is quite infuriating for us Metallica fans, and yet it is also tragic to see how this mighty band has gotten to the point where the members allow themselves to be led by other people rather than sticking to their guns and creating something THEY want to.

The ultimate outcome is a bright one, however. James Hetfield's transformation from an ogre into a caring individual is heartwarming and emotional. The tensions between the pretentious therapist and the band is cringe-worthy, yet exciting. Seeing the inclusion of new bassist Robert Trujillo and be beginning of a new chapter in the band's career is reassuring. All in all, this is a wonderful piece of storytelling that captures the band at a very crucial time, and it delivers in every way you would expect a good documentary to. No, this isn't the highest moment in the band's creative history, but it IS very much worth watching. I have shown this documentary to people who have had nothing to do with Metallica, yet they enjoy the film, because it goes beyond Metal music - it's a story of humanity and growth. That, in my opinion, is always something worth experiencing.

Very happy viewing.

JLocke | 4/5 |


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