Movie Review by EDF
Starring: Kirk Hammett, James Hetfield, Dave Mustaine, Jason Newsted, Bob Rock
Directors: Joe Berlinger, Bruce Sinofsky
Well this is a novel concept. For years, our perception of hard rock / heavy metal groups being real men who don’t give a shit about authority or of other peoples feelings is suddenly shattered by one documentary. Here psychobabble replaces anger, rage and that inner drive to party till you drop mentality that has gained respect for some groups. As for this Metallica documentary, a group that has been on the music scene for more than 20 years and been a commercial top draw for most of that time, they will now have to face their demons just as they start to record their next studio album, ST. ANGER.
The band’s management company convinces the group to take on a therapist while also filming the making of the album. Things get off to a bad start as their bass player Jason Newsted leaves the group on the eve of recording the album. He finds that the group does not offer him the artistic outlet he was hoping it would allow. Facing the recording as a three piece, producer Bob Rock steps in and helps out on the bass guitar duties. As the band start recording the album, you get a sense that the music being created is far from flowing from these musicians.
In order to create a different environment for the new album, the group decide to rent out The Presidio in San Francisco and they set up a make shift studio there. Within these unfamiliar surroundings, the group are ill at ease and tempers eventually start to flair up as the group’s internal balance seems to be a bit off. Lead guitarist Kirk Hammett has managed to clean up his wicked ways and has taken up windsurfing. There is something bothering front man, guitarist and lead vocalist James Hetfield as he forces his creative juices to come up with something good and fails. Drummer and group leader Lars Ulrich pushes his bossy ego to the max in an attempt to get the album finished.
The coin drops when a month into the recording, Hetfield disappears off to a rehab centre and is not seen for a year. In the meantime, the rest of the group leave The Presidio and head back to the familiar surroundings of a proper recording studio. While trying to make sense of all the psychobabble that everybody seems to have inherited, somebody must have thought that inviting Dave Mustaine in for a session would be a good idea. Mustaine was one of the original members of Metallica until he got kicked out. Mustaine does his best to get across to Lars that he has no idea what he went through since his exit from the group. Mustaine has always felt that his group Megadeth were seen to be second best, no matter what he did. You can see that Lars realises that Metallica has existed within its own protective balloon and that it might have finally burst.
The thing to look out for in this documentary is the way everybody holds back on what they are actually thinking of saying. Of course when Hetfield eventually comes back to continue the recording of the album, then that is when events turn comical. The rules of his rehabilitation state that he can only work for four hours a day and then when he tells everybody around him that they are not to continue working without him until the next day, the reactions are amusing. Since Metallica are supposed to be the top metal group with a ‘take no prisoners’ attitude, it is revealing to see a giant being dissected like this. The feeling is that this once great group made great music and now that drink and drugs have been replaced by an indulgent search to be considerate to others, they are now artistically a spent force. If you don’t believe me, try listening to ST. ANGER and I’ll guarantee that you will take it off before the album finishes. By watching this documentary you will understand why.