The iconic metal band struggles for two years to create their album St. Anger, dealing with alcoholism, the loss of their bass player, and the challenge of working with a psychotherapist.The iconic metal band struggles for two years to create their album St. Anger, dealing with alcoholism, the loss of their bass player, and the challenge of working with a psychotherapist.The iconic metal band struggles for two years to create their album St. Anger, dealing with alcoholism, the loss of their bass player, and the challenge of working with a psychotherapist.
Much humour comes from the fact that as the band members characters are revealed. They often come off as a real life spinal tap. It is such, that an outsider, who had never heard of Metallica, might perceive this documentary as a mockumentary. Kirk Hammett comes off particularly as a good guy who is just not very clever. Stating that things work themselves out for the better or worse, but they work themselves out. Well duh... Also, after getting some creative lyrical input, all he can add is 'Your lifestyle determines your deathstyle.' Probably one of the dumbest lines that I have heard in a while. Even for a metal band.
The main 'issue' that this doco reveals is that Metallica needs to ride off into the sunset.The three band members are burnt-out and only really making their music for money. All of the bandmembers have moved on and grown up from the angst ridden, angry twenty-somethings that they once were. Hetfield is now trying to be more of a family man. Lars Ulrich is more into art and seems more like he wants to be a dealer rather than a drummer. Even Kirk Hammett, who is the peacemaker in the band looks like he needs to move on. All of these guys would probably be happier if they called it a day and went their separate ways. It would also be easier on their fans, who by my quick glances at amazon, are not happy with Metallica's latest release.
It is not until they hire a new bassist, Danny Trujilo, that a new life in the band seems to appear. The band complains about showing up for practice, for coming up with music. They complain about having to be in a studio. Excuse me? These guys are making millions and they are complaining about having to spend some time in the studio? Oh to be a rock star with over 500 guitars! This lack of enthusiasm only adds to my theory of burn out.
Metallica illustrate how far they are now removed from their macho roots by hiring a therapist. Former bassist, Jason Newstead puts it best by saying how lame it is that they can't sought it out themselves. However the ego's of Hetfield and Ulrich are absolutely rampant and probably need some control through negotiation. Also, their producer is to obsequious to really confront their unbridled self indulgences.
Ulrich is possibly the most irritating man in rock. He absolutely rails against napster. But he also owns an impressive art collection that is worth millions of dollars. The hypocrisy is terribly confronting. This is revealed when he sells the paintings and gets drunk as they are auctioned. Because of Ulrichs grandstanding soapbox routine about napster. The inherent decadence of this scene totally annoys the viewer.
Ulrich talks, talks, talks and then talks some more. He pontificates pointlessly on the beginning and ending of art. Managing to completely sound pretentious. His father also steps in to state that their work just isn't much cop. Absolutely infuriating him! But the thing is he never actually says anything. Vapid, manipulating and annoying. But then Hetfield is a total control freak. The struggle for control of the band is a constant issue between these two characters. The funny thing is that because they are both such control freaks, they accuse each other of having major control issues.
The therapist himself doesn't really seem to do anything except be very serene with being paid 40,000 dollars a week. It is even revealed that he intends to move from his home and set up a base with Metallica. It is plainly obvious that the therapist has observed a major cash cow just waiting to be milked. Eventually the band remove him, but without some major group therapy work first.
What is also interesting is when Dave Mustaine shows up as part of the therapy. A whiny Mustaine bleats about how he was thrown out of Metallica. This is nonsensical because although Megadeth are not as successful as Metallica, they still have sold 15 million albums. When I was a teenage their was always someone wearing a Megadeth t-shirt! What is even more nonsensical is that Mustaines assertion that they are number two. Hey! Maybe back in the eighties Dave! The therapy session between Dave and Lars is never really resolved. Dave moans about being kicked out and Lars is so egocentric, he is incapable of caring.
What is more telling about these guys is the world that they live in. For instance, they are asked to appear on M.T.V's ICON at the end of the doco. They are given a standing ovation in a small M.T.V music studio. This endless adulation that they receive obviously does these guys no good. It is just a reminder to the viewers how artificial the worlds are that celebrities live in.
Overall, this is a very good doco that cuts right to the heart of Metallica. If you are a fan you should definitely see it. If you are not, you should still see it. It is a fascinating look into the lives of Rock Stars and how they are not as bulletproof as they would like to think that they are. As a docu it is excellent and really gives you the 'real' Metallica. 9 out of 10.
- Feb 3, 2005