Lars Ulrich and Bob Rock defend Metallica’s St. Anger drum sound


17 years after its release, the drum sound on the Metallica album St. Ensembles remains a fun point of contention. Metallica has spent years recording St. Ensembles, and vast stacks of money were invested in the creation of the album. As captured in the documentary Some kind of monster, Metallica went through group therapy to make the album. They delayed his registration so James Hetfield could go to rehab. They did so without a regular bassist, as Jason Newsted had recently left the band. (Producer Bob Rock responded.) And they came out with a tiny, ugly, grooveless album with lyrics about “my lifestyle determines my style of death” and drums that sound like a can of soup falling on a garbage can cover.Over the years since St. Ensembles, the members of Metallica have been both contrite and defensive about the album. For reasons that might have something to do with quarantine boredom, we’re reviewing all of this. As Loudwire reports, Bob Rock made an appearance on the podcast Tone Talk earlier this month and recounted how this drum sound was born. While defending the sound, Rock pointed out Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich:

[Ulrich] set up the drums in the rehearsal room, we were on our way, and Lars kept staring at the drum. Finally, he sat down behind and said, “Just give me a snare.” I bought a Plexi Ludwig snare drum because I wanted to try it out, and he put it on the drums, and he said, “This is the sound.”…

He just wouldn’t come back. I don’t blame him. Basically if you can figure out one concept it was the sound of the drums when they rehearsed the album, it’s basically the closest to them being in this clubhouse. And no matter what everyone said, it kept the group together and it kept them going …

So I agree with all the reviews I have taken. It’s a fucking snare sound, give it a break.

Blabbermouth reports that Ulrich also talks about the St. Ensembles snare sound again. Yesterday, in a SiriusXM interview, Ulrich said, “I support him one hundred percent because at that point it was the truth.” He then recounted how he got there:

I hear St. Ensembles. It’s a punch and a half, and there’s a lot of amazing raw energy. It’s like whoa! He was slapped a bit. But the snare thing was like a super-impulsive, momentary …

We were working on a riff. [James] Hetfield was playing a riff in the control room and I rushed over. I was like, “I have to put a rhythm behind this. I ran into the monitoring room and sat down and played a few beats on that riff so I didn’t waste the energy of the moment, and forgot to turn on the snare. And then we listened to it, and I was like, “Wow! This sound matches that riff, and it sounds weird and kinda cool. And then I kind of left the snare drum for the rest of the sessions, more or less.

Then it was, like, “Yeah, that’s cool. It’s different. It’s going to screw some people up. It seems to be part of the punches, or whatever. And then it becomes this huge, debated thing. And sometimes we sit on the sidelines and say, “Holy shit! We didn’t see that one coming, ”in terms of the problem he’s turning into.

It looks like St. Ensembles the sound of drums always pleases Lars Ulrich. Since neither of us have ever played drums for Metallica, maybe we should let this one go.


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