i have never seen this television show (Stranger Things), but i have heard so much about ‘Master Of Puppets’ being featured, and how it’s given rise to the song’s resurgence/popularity amongst folks who may not have previously been fans or appreciators of the band. As a person who first got into the band at the age of 14 (in between Justice and right around the release of The Black Album (or Metallica, for those who are not familiar with the oft-named alternate title), i’m sure there are people who would have thought i was a poseur, for getting into them around the height of their popularity. i mean, people lamented that they ‘sold out’ because they had acoustic guitars and a ‘ballad’ on their second album. James Hetfield mentioned in an interview how someone spit on him because his band made a music video.
i’m honestly not sure how anyone could ‘gatekeep’ what is literally the biggest, most well-known metal band in the world. Their music is played in films all the time. People were exposed to them because they had a VIDEO GAME based on their music. As a matter of fact, in reading about this recent turn of events, i discovered that ‘The Four Horsemen’ (from Kill ‘Em All, their (much-beloved by the most hardcore ‘Metallica died after Cliff died’ crowd) FIRST ALBUM) was featured in an earlier season.
So why were people not in an uproar about that, but for some reason people are popping blood vessels because of ‘Puppets’?
i always say (and i am sure i mentioned it in this post, where i played to the song) that ‘Puppets’ and ‘One’ are objectively the two greatest Metallica songs. They are songs i always play when introducing someone to the band, so the fact that the creators of the show introduced anyone not familiar with them to that song, i can’t say it’s a bad thing at all.
People began griping about the ‘new wave of Stranger Things fans’ somehow infiltrating and breaking through the iron-clad wall of the Metallica fortress. The band has had several responses:
- “Everyone is welcome in the Metallica Family. If they like Puppets, chances are they’ll find plenty of other songs to get into.”
- “FYI- EVERYONE is welcome in the Metallica family. Whether you’ve been a fan for 40 hours or 40 years, we all share a bond through music. All of you started at ground zero at one point in time.”
- They made videos acknowledging their support of the show.
i suppose i can be considered one of the ‘older folks in that base- middle period’, since i also saw them live in 1991. As a person who went to the 40th anniversary shows with one of my closest friends- a person who only became familiar with them MONTHS before he went to the show with me- i can attest they will continue to reach many types of people outside of the metal community. i mean, despite me liking some metal, i’m in no way, shape or form a metalhead. i’m more of a punk kid, jazz is my favorite music, and i love house music. But Metallica definitely has been one of my favorite bands over the years.
Another thing which has happened apparently, is that several people decided to sarcastically ‘recommend’ St. Anger and Lulu to folks who may have discovered the band through Stranger Things. i don’t have social media accounts, so when folks told me about this, silly little me thought these recommendations were sincere.
But i forgot that it’s social media we’re talking about.
These sarcastic comments are what’s actually inspired today’s post. As most who follow this site already know by now, i absolutely love and adore St. Anger. While it is not my absolute favorite album (Load still sits on the top of my list) St. Anger has become one of my top 5. It is also the album i listen to the absolute most in their catalog.
People do talk about the album being one you have to be in the mood for to listen to; i’d say that goes for every album on earth. i don’t disagree at all with comments that describe it as a perfect album when you are angry or depressed. The album has become much more significant to me than that. i think the album encompasses so much more than anger- despite the title. People consider St. Anger to be the band’s rawest album; i don’t think the album is any more or less raw than Load, which again, walked so St. Anger could run. Also, like Load and ReLoad, it’s fun listening to the variations in the left and right channels, something that was not as distinguishable with prior albums. Maybe it’s the punk kid in me that cherishes the album; maybe it’s the fact that it’s a therapeutic set of songs. It’s an album that charted the introduction of a band who was forced to face self-reflection and maturity.
As much as i love and adore the album, it’s not one i expect everyone to like. i’m not naive or dazed enough by my own appreciation for it to see why it’s a polarizing work. Whether or not people like it though- one thing i know for sure is that people need to respect it.
i hope that one person (or 10) who finds that ‘recommendation’ picks up St. Anger and actually loves it.
Now onto the song: ‘Sweet Amber’, a song which, sadly, they have only played live one time- 2004, in Lubbock, Texas. While the song’s primary narrative is driven by the band ultimately being forced to do some type of radio promotion (as depicted in Some Kind Of Monster); like many of their songs, there are veiled and/or vague references to addiction: “Chase the rabbit, fetch the stick/She rolls me over ’til I’m sick/She deals in habits, deals in pain/I run away but I’m back again“
My favorite lyrics in the song though, are these:
She holds the pen that spells the end
She traces me and draws me in
i do not follow Lars much at all, in terms of the playing, save for a couple of things (if you know the original song- which you should- you’ll know what i mean). i was just having a bit of fun, and this is what ended up happening.
Admittedly, i only heard Lulu a couple of years or so after its official 2011 release. i was having a conversation with a friend about Metallica, and he had mentioned the album. The first two songs i heard were ‘Brandenburg Gate’ and ‘The View’, and i was so distracted by Lou Reed that i didn’t necessarily give attention to the whole work. i’ve never been much into Reed’s delivery at all- i was never a fan of the Velvet Underground or his solo stuff (at least not until his Buddhism-inspired instrumental works). Upon first listen of these Lulu tracks i said, ‘OH NOOOOOOOOOO… WHY??!!’
i then of course actually listened to (and got) the album some time later, and i ended up having an appreciation for it. This gets singularly declared a Lou Reed album (with Metallica as backup), but to me it’s as much their album as it is his. While i’m still not that fond of Reed’s delivery i’m not as dismissive as i was upon first listening, because in many ways it’s actually effective. i know that the poetry is inspired by/based on the Lulu plays by Frank Wedekind; some of it is incredibly difficult to listen to though, and not only because of the delivery. That said, one of the greatest/most effective pieces in this whole album is ‘Junior Dad’, a song i have been known to defend as much as i do St. Anger. i know people tend to make fun of the song (due to its almost 20-minute length, as well as the fact that it’s on Lulu); however, it’s an incredibly moving piece on resentment and growing older, and was actually a perfect way for Reed to go out.
i haven’t even talked about Metallica yet. They were wonderful on Lulu. They had the arduous (for lack of a better word) task of backing up Lou Reed, who notoriously did not suffer fools. They proved they were up for that task, banging out some glorious riffs. They produced some solid tone poems, and it’s something i would love to hear more of from them.
‘Iced Honey’ (the first song i play here from Lulu) is one of those songs where Reed’s cynical delivery is effective.
If I can’t trap a butterfly or a bee
If I can’t keep my heart where I want it to be
If no matter how much soul and heart
I put to the wood
If a flaming heart is not that good
A caged bird is going to always find a way to escape; and even if they physically are not able to do so, their heart is never as cold as the one who cages them.
It’s another song where, like the rest of the songs on this post, i did not follow Lars. While there were some clear ‘Larsisms’, i just went where the music took me, and it sounds nothing like the original (again, listen to the original, and you will see…).
i just hope i did an okay job.
And finally… Say it with me: I AM THE TABLE.
Yes, last but certainly not least, we have ‘The View’, one of the first songs (again) i ever heard from the album. This song (of course) met a life of its own (because… table); however, in the context of the whole album i actually appreciate it. It reads as a conflict between the moral and immoral, the holy and the sinful, and the religiosity of things- that is, that which consists of habits.
I am the truth, the beauty
That causes you to cross
Your sacred boundaries
i have no idea if any folks who became familiar with the band through the show will see this site; if you happen to stop through- welcome, and i hope you enjoy what you hear. While the posts i have here are songs from two of the most lambasted albums in the band’s catalog, these are songs i definitely appreciate; and i hope, as always, others can find some value, joy or inspiration out of them.