Metallica’s 2003 album “St. Anger” remains a legendary and divisive release that left an indelible mark on the band’s discography. The circumstances surrounding its creation were tumultuous, as the members of Metallica were grappling with internal conflicts and personal demons. This internal turmoil seeped into the album’s sonic landscape, resulting in a departure from the band’s signature sound and a daring exploration of nu metal influences. With the omission of guitar solos and the deliberate embrace of a raw production style, “St. Anger” challenged the expectations of fans and critics alike.
The album’s unconventional approach and unfiltered expression elicited a wide range of reactions from Metallica’s dedicated fanbase. Some listeners found themselves perplexed, unable to reconcile the album’s sonic departure with their preconceived notions of what a Metallica record should sound like. Others felt a profound sense of disappointment and even outrage, decrying the absence of guitar solos and criticizing the controversial snare sound that permeated the entire album.
Amidst the mixed reception, however, there were moments of unexpected support and validation for the band. In a revealing interview on the “Talk is Jericho” podcast, the album’s producer, Bob Rock, shared uplifting anecdotes that shed light on the reception of “St. Anger” within the music community. Rock recounted two remarkable encounters that helped counterbalance the overwhelming criticism.
The first occurred at the iconic Sunset Marquis in Los Angeles, where Rock found himself face-to-face with none other than the legendary Jimmy Page, renowned guitarist and founding member of Led Zeppelin. In an act of sincere admiration, Page approached Rock and expressed his appreciation for the bold and daring nature of “St. Anger.” This unexpected endorsement from one of rock’s most revered figures provided Rock with a profound sense of reassurance and affirmation.
“Jimmy Page — not to drop names, but he’s kind of a friend — he was at the Sunset Marquis [in Los Angeles]. He was sitting, eating breakfast on the other side of the pool. And somebody walked by and said, ‘I’m here seeing Bob Rock.’ Jimmy said, ‘Oh, Bob’s here?’ He came over and talked to me, which blew my mind, coming from Winnipeg — that Jimmy Page even knows my name, you know? And he said, ‘By the way, I love ‘St. Anger’. It’s a great album.’”
Another significant validation came from the talented and influential musician Jack White. During a screening of the captivating documentary “It Might Get Loud” in Toronto, White seized the opportunity to personally approach Rock and offer his praise for “St. Anger.” White, known for his work with The White Stripes and as a solo artist, lauded the album as an exceptional and remarkable piece of art. This acknowledgment from an artist who had redefined the boundaries of rock music further bolstered Rock’s confidence in the album’s artistic merits. In other news, Johnny Depp also partied with Metallica in the past.
“I happened to be in Toronto [at the premiere of the film and Jack] came up to me from across the room, and he says, ‘By the way, I love ‘St. Anger’. It’s an amazing album.’ And [then] he left.”