METALLICA - Some Kind Of MonsterRadical Media
2004
R

“I want four of them. Do it again.”

For nearly two and a half hours, come witness the ups and downs, the trials and tribulations of metaldom’s favorite top-selling sellout bands- the now-ironically named Metallica- as they loose their long-time bassist, begin recording tracks for what would eventually become St. Anger, squabbles and whining amongst each other, the hiring of a psychiatrist, their nationwide search for a new bassist, James’ drug rehab, Lars’ whining, and eventual release of their Grammy-nominated (yet extremely sucking) St. Anger…try to keep the yawns down to a minimum…

As you can probably tell by my synopsis, I don’t have a very high view of the band Metallica. Mind you, there used to be a time where I would figuratively worship daily at the AA Battery-powered altar of the mighty Metallica. I got into them around the time when …And Justice For All came out (still give that a spin every now and again), and felt that their first four albums (Ride The Lighting topping the list) were required listening for the true metalhead. I was one of the first in line to buy their self-titled “black” album, and played it to death within the first month (although I found it rather annoying that all the preps in my high school were sporting Metallica shirts…tucked in). When they played Omaha in ’92, it was like the Pope’s arrival. I even enjoyed Load and Reload to a certain extent. Point is, I was a fan. A pretty big fan. So, what exactly soured me on the band?

Napster. More to the point, Lars’ suing Napster for allowing Metallica songs to be downloaded. For the record, in 1999 when this crap happened, I never did any of that P2P file sharing, let alone knew what a “napster” was. Hell, I didn’t even have a frickin’ computer, and my roommate’s comp had a lame dial-up modem that took forever to download stuff. In other words, I’m not cheesed because Metallica killed my ability to download their songs. I got pissed off because all these years, the boys in the band kept saying that their fans are the greatest, they love their fans, and then they go and sue their fans for loving the band and wanting to hear ’em. It became immediately apparent that money was more of an issue…but that’s another thing entirely, and so I digress…

I rented Some Kind Of Monster because I’m still somewhat interested in Metallica, if not musically. I mean, let’s face it…St. Anger sucked wookie butt. And while Some Kind Of Monster isn’t one of those documentaries that goes through an exhaustive history of the band (there are several books and of course the all-too-abbreviated Behind The Music episode on VH1), it does offere a pretty detailed look into the period where they were working on St. Anger.

On the upside, Some Kind Of Monster shows the drama that surrounded the band at the time, which begins with longtime bassist Jason Newstead’s departure. Nothing is really glossed over, as both the good and bad times were presented without any kind of varnish. The scenes showing the creative process going into the lyrics and the songs were good, showing that at least they weren’t trying to slap something together in haste just to get a product out (as the horrid production on the disc belies). I also liked how they included James Hetfield’s stint wrestling with his alcoholism, effectively quitting the band for an extended time. He could have asked to have that glossed over, or stricken entirely, but he let them include the shots there. And I also found the process of searching for a new bassist to be rather amusing (apparently, former Marilyn Manson cohort Twiggy was among the contenders).

Mostly, though, most of the time this documentary comes off as a bit pretentious. True, it does tend to be hard to be objective when it comes to fans making a film about their favorite band. But, juxtaposed between the recording sessions (which, while interesting, got old after a while…there’s only so much discussion on what time structure to use before I start screaming “JUST PLAY SOMETHING, DAMMIT!!!” and flinging things at the television) were the group therapy sessions with squarest guys you can get for a rock n’ roll psychiatrist. Really, I’ve read about the band’s sessions with this guy in various magazines, but I never experienced what eventually annoyed them so much about him until I watched this video. Truly fascinating stuff, there.

Other points of contention: I was already aware of what kind of arrogant prick Lars Ulrich is, but after watching this my opinion of the drummer / self-appointed spokesperson dropped several points in my book. From his constant arguments with his band mates (which, by his own admission, he at times deliberately disagrees with just for the sake of disagreeing…like I said, arrogant prick), his heartless dissing on former band mates Jason Newsted and Dave Mustaine (there’s a section where Ulrich and Mustaine confront each other as part of the band’s therapy…a scene that I felt was all too short, and kind of stiffed Dave as a result…even the extended version in the extras seemed a bit too short as well), to a needless scene where he’s selling his artwork and making a cool $5 mil in the process…he just comes off in a very bad light in this video. Really, the only person that didn’t come off as a jackass was Kirk Hammet, the lead guitarist. He’s laid back, not really letting all the drama affect him too much. Very classy…

In the end, I felt I watched a 90-minute documentary that was crammed into two-and-a-half hours. Mind you, when I watched this Metallica had already lost a lot of their appeal for me, and I don’t hate the band. I’m saying that much could have been cut out and we would have still gotten the full extent of what was intended. Had this been made in ’91, I would have deemed it the greatest documentary ever. Instead, we have an overly-long video that stands as a representation of the band’s condition nowadays- bloated, overlong and long-winded…

Advertisements