Essential Media Files: Whatever Happened to James Hetfield?
[Essential Media Files is an ongoing theme where I cover anything and everything media-wise]
When a member of a rock band says to an interviewer "But we're huge in Europe," it's all over. Huge in Europe is just a euphemism for "we are this close to being kicked off of our record label." I mean, John Tesh is huge in Europe. Is that who you want to keep company with?
The latest person to speak those words is none other than James Hetfield of Metallica.
James seems a little disturbed that Metallica's latest effort, St. Anger, wasn't exactly a hot commodity in the U.S. In fact, James said "it's a bummer."
"It's a very challenging record," [Drummer Lars] Ulrich said of "St. Anger," which was constructed by a computer program and features no guitar solos. He added that U.S. rock radio programmers seemed more interested in playing bands like Nickelback.
I think Metallica can find the key to their problems in just three words from the above statement: No. Guitar. Solos.
That's why it didn't sell, guys. Metallica fans are the kind of people who made playing air guitar an art form. Listening to a Metallica album and not being able to pick your invisible guitar is just wrong. Sure, every band has the right to experiment and try out new styles. Just know that the fans may not follow.
Let's go back to Metallica's last good album, ...And Justice For All. That was the last album they would release before they made the transition to the the spit-and-polish sound on the Black Album (Metallica) and, years later, the intensity lacking Load and Re-Load.
One only has to put on Justice and listen to Harvester of Sorrow or Blackened and then listen to Hero of the Day from Load to realize that Metallica did not age well. Hetfield just can't make those guttural groans like he used to. Metallic fans, most in their 30's by now, have moved on. And the new kids just don't want to bang their head to an old man singing about anger and angst. Being a heavy metal star is like wearing a tight miniskirt; you can only do it until a certain age until people start keeping their distance from you.
Metallica wanted to change direction (after twenty years) and play a kindler, gentler heavy metal. The kind that gets played on all the radio stations, the kind that gets you an invite to TRL. Like, say...Nickelback.
Let's just all sit back and listen to Master of Puppets or Kill 'em All and reminisce about the days when Metallica had a raw edge and James could make those scowling faces without looking like his pacemakers just blew a fuse.
[see more Essential Media here]