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03 | If I Could Have My Wasted Days Back


What if St. Anger wasn't a divisive, poorly produced, steaming mess of a record? What if Lars' snare wasn't made to sound like a tin can in a cavern at the bottom of the ocean? What if beneath this slogging, strained audio recording of a mid–life crisis lurked some crushingly heavy riffs and cool, unique song structures? What if instead of a disastrously failed attempt at contemporizing their sound, this record actually did just that and propelled Metallica forward into the '00s with a powerful new direction? What if it was… good? Like maybe even really good?

Back in 2015 three young lads used their considerable talents to seek answers to these types of questions. The result is a smashing (in the truest sense) YouTube only reimagining of the album that more than raises an eyebrow. Daryl Gardner plays all the instruments, Chris Dando does the production and Dave Cox provides an impression of James Hetfield that is so dead on it sounds like James himself traveled back in time 25 years to lay down the vocal tracks.

From the YouTube post:

Recorded from the ground up, the album has been shortened by 15 minutes, yet every riff and lyric is intact, resulting in a more concise and focused record.

The production is also more conventional, and we hope that Metallica fans appreciate this new version of an album that is always looked at as an anomaly in the incredible career of the world'' biggest metal band, Metallica.

The improvement, particularly to the first three songs, is immeasurable. Here, sped up and crunchy, “Frantic” is the fist–to–wall opener that rings in your head it was meant to be, “St. Anger” stresses containment with dynamic tempo changes and “Some Kind of Monster” gets the head bobbing with an anthemic stomp. Even the middling–to–bad songs on the latter half are dramatically elevated to an eminently listenable state just by virtue of being played heavier, faster, more intensely.

Earlier I said that Daryl Gardner “plays all the instruments”. That's a little like saying “Tom Brady is good at football”. Daryl CRUSHES it. The talent he displays playing rhythm, lead, bass and drums is jaw–dropping. But the real key to this entire endeavor is clear in the video; he's having an absolute blast playing these songs. That sense of fun comes through loud and clear in the final product and is the true difference maker.

I actually sort of appreciate Metallica's original effort. St. Anger was at least a departure from the infuriatingly mainstream shlock of their '90s catalog. But let's just say that the end result didn't exactly reconnect them to the incendiary attitude of the Master of Puppets era. But imagine if they had been a little more concise and focused, had used more conventional production, had more fun. Maybe they should've sought the healing hand of Rick Rubin a couple years sooner?