it’s a film about people. people and the relationship with those around them. you will see sadness, anger, laughter, resentment and therapy sessions. no, i ain’t talking about the sopranos.

i got my free tickets to see some kind of monster, courtesy of the good folks at metclub and tartan films, last tuesday. i was sceptical with the numerous taglines pitching this docu-drama (rockumentary, if you will, to quote marti di bergi). i was supposed to see metallica as never seen before: bared with warts and all, as opposed to the biggest rock band on the planet and a money-making factory. i also wondered if this was all a marketing ploy to show the more human side of the ‘tallica. perhaps fans will now be more forgiving for the napster debacle. and the unwarranted firing of jason newsted. and the album that is st. anger (hehehe).

Good old Jason. Oh well...

Cliff Burtonone thing for sure, i saw metallica as a band comprising three (then) guys who are, as acclaimed, human beings with their own foibles. three guys who just needed to sort themselves out before the band goes the way of the dodo. metallica as a band had to realised that they have not moved on since the death of cliff burton, bassist extraordinaire, in 1986; a factor that led to the estrangement of sorts of jason till the day he left the band. james hetfield had to wrestle with his inner demons, battle his consequent alcoholism, and open the creative doors more to his bandmates. lars ulrich was still the motormouth, seen arguing with james over… drum beats. with weird time signatures. yes. and kirk hammett. good old kirk was always stuck in the middle, being the more sensible bandmember telling the two kindergarten kids to back off and do something more productive. like finish writing the songs.

like jason’s comment in the film, i also felt like asking, what the hell do you need a fucking therapist for?!!

enter phil towle, a therapist who had helped the likes of baseball and american football players. these are sports in which there big egos, and when egos the size of jupiter clash, it’ll be bad news for these teams where money-making is the main order of the day. phil is good at his job. well, he must be if he charges metallica $40 k a month. apart from his psycho-wank-babble in the movie, i was much disturbed by his car boot sale jumpers. worst still, seeing him nodding his head unconvincingly in rhythm to james’ guitar riff during the st. anger recording sessions.

James, Lars and Kirk at The disturbed(!) as i was watching these therapy scenes, i have to say it worked for the band’s betterment. we get to see lars opening his heart to his bandmates, and as part of his therapy, confronting dave mustaine, the guitarist they fired in new york during the recording of their first album, kill ’em all. the band also managed to sit down together, writing the lyrics: a job done solely by james for the past 20 years. james didn’t look comfortable with it initially. that wasn’t the only thing he was uncomfortable with: he wasn’t too happy with the film crew following him around at first, nor was he happy with lars and bob rock, the producer, working outside the four-hour working time limit imposed on the band (which was part of james’ rehab programme). there were many memorable scenes, but the one that stuck to mind was the one when jason snubbed lars, kirk and bob backstage after an echobrain gig. meoww!

The St. Anger recording sessions in the HQ.

anyhow, the st. anger recording sessions continued after james’ hiatus at their new studio called the HQ. once the album was near completion, they then hired rob trujillo (methinks the audition scenes were edited in such a way to make the other candidates look kinda shitty, imho. hehe), who was then playing for ozzy osbourne. ironically, jason was asked to play bass for ozzy. talk about twist of fate.

this is a must-see for any fan of metallica. even if you aren’t a fan, the film touches on the human relationship, as well as a spot on observation of group dynamics, especially in one that has been together for a good twenty years, churning out some of the best tunes in rock.

Doing the thing they do best.