"St. Anger" is the title track from Metallica's eighth studio album, and the first single released from it (hitting the market on June 23, 2003). It won a Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance and hit #2 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart.
Metallica made St. Anger
during a rough time.
Frontman James Hetfield was battling alcoholism, and at one point he interrupted the recording sessions to do a stint in rehab. He's been clean ever since.
Beyond the booze troubles, the band was generally at each other's throats. Bass player Jason Newsted, who'd been with the band since shortly after the September 27, 1986 death of Cliff Burton (who'd played bass for Metallica since 1983), left after requesting a hiatus to work on his side project, Echobrain.
The friction came mostly from Hetfield, who wanted all band members to focus their energy on Metallica. Newsted countered that Hetfield himself had been involved in numerous side projects. They couldn't find compromise and Newsted left (their producer, Bob Rock, played bass on the album).
Hetfield later came to see himself as being too controlling (something he explored in "All within My Hands
") and admitted that Newsted's absence hurt the quality of the music.
All of these challenges led to the band seeking a sound that was rawer than the one their fans had become used to. They didn't try to polish things or go for grandiose solos as they had in the past. They intentionally sought out a rougher garage-band sound and even phased out the guitar solos that helped make them legendary - there isn't a single one on the entire album.
"St. Anger" personifies both the personal turmoil and the artistic vision at the core of the album after which it was named.