It is difficult to do a Metallica review and not mention The Thing That Should Not Have Been (i.e. "St. Anger"). The past month or two I have frequently lurked in the Blabbermouth message boards for Metallica-related news snippets, as well those relating to their current Summer Sanitarium tour package will ill-fitting Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park and others. I think it's safe to assume that Metallica is one of the most talked about rock acts today, and not all of it is positive.

Back in the late 80's and early 90's I was seriously into Metallica. I was a late-blooming 21-year-old when I saw them perform to support the "...And Justice for All" album and I was blown away. As far as I was concerned the sun shone out of Hetfield's arse. They were the #1 band to me and I played their albums all day long. They were cool, they wrote thoughtful lyrics and their music just plain ruled. I didn't think they sold out with the black album, either, despite it being decidedly more, shall we say, radio-friendly.

When my girlfriend at the time told me James had a perm, that hurt.

That was well over a decade ago. In the mean time, Metallica (or their management?) have shown a rather more greedy side to themselves. Also, they have released awesome sounding but very un-Metallica albums, alienating fans of old. Who are we to judge them by that, though? In any job you're supposed to progress, and nobody thinks it's weird when a minor office clerk makes it to be division chief or even CEO. Metallica have come from low beginnings in the fringes of thrash metal, making it big in the world of corporate rock. They're no longer my cup of tea, though I do give both "Load" and "Reload" an occasional spin. "St. Anger" took the biscuit, though, because to me it was an aural insult. The 'live' DVD sounds better than the Bob-Rock-produced actual CD. I didn't mind the change of direction, and didn't even mind much the overly long repetitive tracks, nor the comparatively inane lyrics...but the production is an aural insult. That, to me, made "St. Anger" their all time worst CD as far as listening enjoyment is concerned. That, to me, made me lose a lot of respect I still had for them. It's one thing to try and earn shitloads of dough, it's another thing to truly deliver something atrocious-sounding. Hell, even old Darkthrone albums sound less teeth-grindingly terrible!

Last year, Elektra released the CD + DVD version of the original CD + VHS Metallica box entitled "Live Shit: Binge & Purge". To get rid of the grapefruit-tonic-ginger-tobacco-radish taste that "St. Anger" had left in my mouth (and, in a way, my ears) I decided to shell out the required money to get this new box set version. I can tell you it was a choice I have not regretted. "Live Shit" shows Metallica at their artistic best during their "Damaged Justice" tour, plus at their semi-commercially most appealing during the "Nowhere Else to Roam" tour. The DVDs have excellent quality and even feature subtitles (including in-between-song banter and variations in the lyrics). Seeing these concerts swept me right back to the time when you could be a Metallica fan and be proud. The original 72-page booklet (nicely illustrated and a good read to boot) is included on the second DVD, which is nice. I shan't spend too many words on the 3 CDs in the package, as they are identical and still show very much that Metallica ruled in concert.

The only reason why this box doesn't get five bullets is because, well, I think it's too expensive. Well, hey, I'm Dutch! Also, I still want to get even with them for The Thing That Should Not Have Been, as well as Lars having said that Limp Bizkit is an innovative band that deserves respect (I wonder what drug he was on?).

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Written July 2003


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