Peeling Back The Skin (A ST. ANGER Love Story)…

i have been away for a bit (if you couldn’t tell)… The primary reason is that i’ve been working on a film. St. Anger (an album i’ve praised numerous times on this site) is an album that is seen by so many with repulsion. This film is one that charts not only my own love and appreciation for the album, but others’ love and appreciation for it as well. i know we are out there, even if it’s a small percentage of us.

The idea for doing it came as i was half joking around, saying i was going to make a documentary, and i got some encouragement to actually go through with it. Thinking i was going to be made fun of, i took a chance and announced this on the Metallica forums. There was a surprising amount of support for it.

Initially, i thought it was going to be 15 minutes of me ranting about how St. Anger needs to be respected, but what ended up happening was a deeper journey. Not only did i have to chance to begin to build positive relationships, but i also found out so much more about myself. Navigating this (new) world as an amputee, i still have anxiety about moving through the world. Despite having a history of making films and creating music, this encouraged me to push myself in ways i haven’t done in a long time.

i am so grateful to everyone who took the time to listen, to encourage, to critique and to participate. What ended up happening on film was 6 hours, but what happened beyond that will last a lifetime.

Yes… You read that correctly. 6 hours. Obviously, i don’t expect anyone to sit and watch this whole thing for six hours straight, so i am putting some ‘time stamps’, so folks know where they are, and where to go.

Part 1

  • Intro (0:00)
  • Clint And Ethan Pt. 1 (2:48)
  • The Journey/AJ/How This Came to Be (3:24)
  • Jesse (25:22)
  • Jordan (28:58)
  • Mary B (33:42)
  • Amanda (42:07)
  • Nikos (46:25)
  • Kirk/Sarah & Ralph (58:23)
  • Nick (1:05)
  • Richii (1:07)
  • Christian (1:13)
  • Rob/Lou (1:32)
  • St. Anger For Life Pt. 1/Abhimanyu (1:41)
  • Brandon (1:44)
  • James/Andreas (2:28)

Part 2

  • Casey (:24)
  • Kristen (11:41)
  • Laura/Criticisms and Extras (1:41)
  • Lars/The Songs (1:59)
  • Poetry And Messages (2:41)
  • St. Anger For Life Pt. 2 (3:05)
  • Clint And Ethan Pt. 2.5 (3:08)
  • End Credits (3:09)

Yes. Six hours. perhaps this will inspire others to make their own ‘love letters’ to St. Anger, or another beloved album. This film was a pure labor of love, with a $0 budget. i’m sure there were some mistakes that occurred (i DEFINITELY know there’s at least one. i mentioned early on that ‘Battery’ was the song in the final encore when i first saw the band, and it actually was the song before the final encore). i don’t have fancy equipment (nor am i the greatest musician on earth), so everything you see here, warts and all is again, coming from a place of great respect and appreciation- not only for the subject of this film, but everyone who contributed to this labor of love happening as well.

The interviews and segments range from the strictly musical to the more philosophical; i felt it was important to keep the flow of what people were saying with little interruption, so i chose to keep the full(er) interviews without breaks. There’s a mix of commentary, visual poetry, and music (all played by me… drums/percussion, keys, bass and guitar). While they are not exact replicas of anything, my audiovisual inspirations ranged from calls to the ancestors, to John Coltrane to Public Image Ltd. to bossa nova to avant garde cinema to of course, Metallica. i am sure i’m missing a lot of points i want to say; still i am incredibly grateful to have had this experience, and the opportunity to share it with you all. My hope is that you can listen and view with an open mind and an open heart. Perhaps you’ll learn some things; perhaps it will reignite some ideas you’ve already had.

(Almost) everything to be said about the wonderfulness of St. Anger, hopefully it’s here. Thank you for your time.

(Content Warning: Flashing lights, mentions of sexual assault, abuse, and suicide; photos with a bit of blood in them, as well as a leg that’s been amputated (no massive amounts of blood there, don’t worry).

Also, if you are interested in listening to music from the film, you can listen here.)

Metallica Fridays (no. 24): Giving Love To The Most Hated…

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:

  1. “Everyone is welcome in the Metallica Family. If they like Puppets, chances are they’ll find plenty of other songs to get into.”
  2. “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.”
  3. 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.

Metallica Fridays (no. 2): Jonny Z And First Plays

So here we go… As promised, since Metallica/Lars was the inspiration to get me back here on these drums, i wanted to have a specific day where i just posted playing to their songs. How i play is very basic, so in a way i was scared to even cover their material- i don’t play double kick, and i don’t do complex rhythms, at least at this stage. But still… how you do things is to just do them, and get better despite whatever limitations. i have one leg (which, even though i have accepted it still bugs me out to say), and the foot on the existing leg (which permanently has pins and rods) isn’t the strongest. So every time i play i am surprised! Whatever mistakes or hits i make, i’m still happy i am alive and get to bang on stuff.

As i was figuring out what songs to do for this post i heard that Jon Zazula (the co-founder of Megaforce Records, along with wife Marsha) passed. Jonny Z was the one who championed for Metallica when other labels weren’t into them. So of course, ‘Hit The Lights’, the first song Metallica ever recorded (for the Metal Massacre compilation); and the first song released on the first album (Kill ‘Em All) was the first choice to play to. It’s actually one of my favorite songs to play drums to.

i wanted to play another Megaforce track, and at the same time challenge myself- so i said… ‘Creeping Death’! No, it is not the most complex song on Ride The Lightning; however, i had never practiced or played it in its entirety before. i’m just doing a lot of experimenting. What you are seeing here is me playing it through in a first take for the first time, warts and all.

Interestingly, the ‘Guitar Hero’ versions to some of these songs are a bit different than the album versions, in terms of arrangement…

‘Fuel’ is a perfect example of where my limitations lie, and how i work around them. No wait… that’s ALL the songs!

Honestly, even though i love them all (and i say that unironically), the Load/ReLoad/St. Anger period is some of my favorite drumming from Lars. Load is actually my favorite Metallica album. The musicality, the lyricism, the production- they are all on point.

This is an incredibly fun song to play, and it’s even more fun to see it live! ‘Fuel’ to me is like, the Metallica version of Michael Jackson’s ‘Speed Demon’. Both awesome songs.

And of course, being a St. Anger fanboi, i wanted to do a song from it. Lars was putting in work on that album- don’t sleep. Should Kirk have had solos on it? Yes. Absolutely. Does the snare sound bother me? Not as much as it does other people. Should Bob Rock be considered a ‘hero of the day’ for his work on that album? Indeed. He stepped back in his primary role as producer, and became a member of Metallica, even if for an album (as well as some other sessions, and live performances). The whole album tells a specific story (some of which ‘invisible kids’ like me can identify with), and i appreciate that.

Honestly, it’s one of the Metallica albums i listen to the most. And again, i love all their albums.

Hopefully down the line- sooner than later, the album will be seen for the greatness it actually is.

Wherever you go Mr. Zazula, say hi to Cliff for us.