Reaching its twentieth anniversary this year, Metallica's eighth studio album St Anger remains, for many, the nadir of the metal legends' recorded output. Released in the wake of extraordinary tension within the band and the awkward exit of bassist Jason Newsted, its tinny production, lack of solos and clunky lyrics has sealed it an unenviable legacy in the eyes (and ears) of Metallica fans.
That's not to say it doesn't have its staunch defenders, however - including none other than Led Zeppelin guitar god Jimmy Page and White Stripes legend Jack White. According to the album's producer Bob Rock in a recent interview on Chris Jericho's Talk Is Jericho podcast, both rock icons made a point of coming up to the producer and heaping praise on St Anger following its release.
"Jack White, when [2008 music documentary] It Might Get Loud had the premiere, I happened to be in Toronto when it happened," Rock explains. "[White] came up to me from across the room and he says, 'By the way, I love St Anger, it's an amazing album', and left.
"Jimmy Page," he continues, "not to drop names, but he's kind of a friend, and he was at the [famed Hollywood Hotel] Sunset Marquis, he was sitting eating breakfast on the other side of the pool. Somebody walked by and said, 'I'm here seeing Bob Rock'. Jimmy said, 'Oh, Bob's here?' He came over and talked to me, which blew my mind, coming from Winnipeg, that Jimmy Page even knows my name, you know? And he said, 'By the way, I love St Anger, it's a great album'. So I'm OK: those two guys bought the record, and I'm OK with that!"
Elsewhere in the interview, Rock acknowledges the somewhat scrappy way St Anger came together and ultimately turned out, but insists that, if nothing else, it was the album Metallica needed to make.
"James [Hetfield, Metallica frontman] wasn't there for a long time," he notes. "We had to punt. You know? We had to keep it going and keep moving. So, that record wasn't the best for my career, but it was the best in terms of, I had to be there for those guys, 'cause they broke up. I put in a couple years, and just concentrated on being friends. If that album didn't happen, I don't think they would have lasted. They had to do that album so they could just go back and be them."
You can listen to the full interview over on Talk Is Jericho.