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Metallica to Begin Recording With Rick Rubin in March

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In 2003, Metallica released their 8th full-length studio album, St. Anger. With its tinny production, absence of their signature guitar solos and serious shortage of good songwriting and songs, it was a major disappointment. The only positives I could take from St. Anger were that it was meaner and more aggressive than their previous two albums, Load and Reload, and I loved the opening track “Frantic.”

As a long-time fan, I wondered how they could screw up their five-years-in-the-making comeback so severely. The answers came in 2004, when they released the warts-and-all documentary, Some Kind of Monster. With unprecedented access and candor, the completely dysfunctional institution of Metallica was revealed for the world to see. Personal problems led to zapped creativity and there was nothing their long-time producer Bob Rock could do to keep them on track. In fact, Rock’s suggestions (and you can’t blame the guy for being a little confused) clearly made the band worse.

Well, it’s recently been announced on metallica.com that Bob Rock will definitely not be producing the next Metallica album. Rick Rubin and the band will begin recording on March 12th. Of course, Rick Rubin is the genius behind so many amazing recordings from the last two decades – from Run DMC, The Beastie Boys, and LL Cool J to Slayer, Danzig and System of A Down. To me, though, his greatest achievement was helming the #1 album of the 90s, Red Hot Chili Peppers Blood Sugar Sex Magik, and subsequently supervising their graceful evolution over the next 15 years.

Rick Rubin’s track record is near flawless, but he is capable of a stinker here and there. Ever hear The (International) Noise Conspiracy’s Armed Love? It’s nearly unfathomable he was the man responsible for that slick, soulless mess.

Usually, though, Rubin is a magic man. What he did for the Dixie Chicks on last year’s Taking the Long Way is pretty special. For a group who had lost their core fan base, country radio listeners, he added rock and pop elements to reach a wider audience while keeping them country at the same time. Resurrecting Metallica’s sound after years of mediocrity should be quite a challenge. Here’s hoping Mr. Rubin can dazzle us once again.

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About Dave Powers

  • Peter

    Some say Rock ruined them. Others say they got soft and whiny when the whole Napster “let’s sue some kids” thing happened and that wrecked their cred. Both true, but I still think the wheels really came off when Cliff died. Now these guys need to release their “Physical Graffiti” at this point to regain any sort of footing. Otherwise, I say it’s over. They become just another classic rock band. There were (are) far harder, better and more technically proficient bands who waited for Met to stumble. And stumble they did, bigtime.

  • I am definitely intrigued by this pairing.
    St.Anger may not be a high point, but it did grow on me.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    *Fuck* Metallica needs more than a new producer…

    -They need to get a new guy on vox, leave Hetfield as the rythmn guitarist.They tried quite a ways back to get John Bush but to no avail. But they knew back then they needed someone new for Metallica to become a real Metal act.
    -Kirk needs to re-visit & re-practice his old scales because he had balls back in the day.
    -They have a kick ass bassist and should let him loose. For god’s sake, Infectious Grooves was better than anything that Metallica released in the 90’s.
    -They should ditch Lars… That dude can’t play for shit anymore and he is such a drama queen.
    Gene Hoglan is “up for hire”!!They should drop some Benjamins on that dude and come out with some serious shit!!!

    Anyways, that’s the way I see it, Especially if thay wanna compete in the Metal scene!!

  • Metallica are so big that they have a hard time objectively judging their new songs, hence the recent output of substandard albums.

    Hopefully, Rubin will be the guy to honestly tell them when they are on track and when they are just treading water.

  • Vern Halen

    Rubin got Johnny Cash to cover Danzig & Soundgarden – maybe he can get Metallica to cover Buck Owens.

  • It was unfortunate that Stadium Arcadium got all that Grammy love. It’s a low point in their career.

  • Rubin is the right guy for the job, no doubt… I hope he can channel Metallica to flourish as Slayer and System of a Down have on his productions. And yes, SA was a RHCP stinker, for sure.

  • Mark Saleski

    if you watch Some Kind Of Monster, the result of St. Anger (which i happened to like) will come as no surprise.

    after watching that documentary, i was surprised that they didn’t break up.

  • Indeed I did. I tried revisiting this week to see if time would change my perspective. I got through the first disc, and it took effort to continue listening that far. They need an editor. Their albums are consistently too long, even when they are single-disc sets. This was overkill on an epic scale.

    As for Rubin/Metallica… I have no idea. The band seemed pretty empty on St. Anger. I don’t know if a change in producer will refill the tanks with actual songs or not. I’d like to hear them come out with something really terrific.

  • Mark Saleski

    the weird thing about it is that i read interviews with some of the guys in the band and they were just so enthusiastic about the material….then i got a copy of the disc and couldn’t believe it. yeesh. even dj radiohead, a big Peppers fan, thought it was a bust.

  • I couldn’t agree more, Mark. Stadium Arcadium was a major disappointment compared to all the other great Rubin/RHCP collaborations. Here’s what I wrote about it last year.

  • Mark Saleski

    i hope this is a great record. Rubin’s usually the man, the only exception being (in my mind anyway) the Peppers Stadium Arcadium, which is the most boring thing they’ve ever done.