Looking back over the coverage of Some Kind Of Monster in the decade since its release, the word Metallica appear to use most often to rationalise it – at least to themselves – is ‘honest’. That’s one way of putting it. Back in 2010, Lars Ulrich described it as “a mindfuck”, which, from the inside, is closer to the truth.
It’s a remarkable artefact that exposes the strange combination of vanity, hubris and comedy that surrounds overwhelming fame, success and wealth in the music business. At times it’s indistinguishable from parody, the work of a satirist with a clear and savage eye.
The premise is terrific: rock legends struggle to make a record while reconciling with their tormented past. This requires the intervention of a ‘therapist’ – Phil Towle, a man whose main aim appears to be to persuade the band they need more therapy (he is later credited as having ‘saved’ Metallica).
It’s quickly apparent that James Hetfield is the bear-slaying alpha leader who must be appeased and Lars Ulrich his art loving, passive-aggressive best mate. Kirk Hammett plays the lukewarm water that flows between them, and is the only really likable presence.
The album is a real turkey that stubbornly refuses to fly, however many new feathers they stick on it, and yet it perfectly represents the internal chaos that had beset them.
On a human level, I’m glad they got through, but Some Kind Of Monster is a triumph for the filmmakers rather than their subjects, a compelling indictment of the perils of indulgence./o:p