Washington Think Tank with W.: Who could salvage a terrible album?

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Last week I stepped out from behind the desk in my oval office, took off my television make-up, turned off the teleprompter, and opened myself up to you, my loyal citizens, in a candid and self-abasing fireside chat. I can’t deny that the feeling wasn’t freeing. For once, I felt not like the leader of the free world, but rather like a mere mortal. Like one of you people. Like a regular jagoff. So, in the spirit of comradery, let’s take some time to heal the wounds we inflicted upon each other. Let’s sit down and brown bag it over a friendly conversation. Toilet, let’s chat.

Today’s Question: Who could salvage a terrible album?

There are albums that almost all serious metalheads can agree totally suck. St. Anger by Metallica is one such album. The songs are overly long. The production is terrible. Lars drums on it. However, unlike many of you kvltists, I wasn’t born with Slayer playing in my delivery room. I was a late bloomer to metal, having only really been exposed to radio rock and metal in high school. It wasn’t until college that I really branched out and dipped my waters into the blackened pools of extreme music. I first heard St. Anger quite a bit before my metal ears had fully grown, and as such, I don’t hate it as thoroughly as most of you do. Don’t get me wrong, I’m fully aware that it’s a total turd, but like a proud man after dropping a massive deuce, I can still look in the toilet and gaze upon that giant turd with equal disgust and fondness. I’d like to assert that there are actually some decent riffs and ideas on St. Anger that, in the hands of more skilled musicians, could actually produce interesting songs. Which brings me to my question of the week. Who could salvage such a terrible album? Well, as a sign of my commitment to the office, I listened to St. Anger again and picked out an individual band that I think could breathe life into each track.

  1. Frantic – Arkaik. The lyrics to Frantic are based on Hindu/Buddhist beliefs in reincarnation, so I thought a death metal band that could offer a precise and brutal ode to Brahman could turn this song into something transcendent. I’m certain this band could craft a razor sharp and compellingly repetitious track with killer rhythmic pulses. Plus, the drums would sound better.
  2. St. Anger – Primitive Man. This song was a gallant effort to inject the fury and despondency Metallica felt into a sonic attack, but the tune falls flat due to its unwieldy length and vacuous production. However, a band that grew and nursed on rage in the blackened swamps of fury could easily take this dud and transfigure it into a sludgy bludgeon of hatred. Primitive Man is just the band for the job.
  3. Some Kind of Monster – The Body. I’m not going to lie. I really can’t think of anything redeeming about this song. So, if my first rule of covers can’t be met, the second rule must take precedence. This song must be deconstructed and reborn into a hideously transfigured form. It must be reshaped into some kind of monster. As one of the few bands that legitimately frightens me, I think The Body are a great fit for transforming this train-wreck into an abomination from the bayou.
  4. Dirty Window – Dillinger Escape Plan. In my opinion, this is one of the better songs on St. Anger. There’s a rocking, chaotic feel to it that would be perfect in the hands of a mathcore band. DEP could easily bind the riffs and the rage into an unhinged assault.
  5. Invisible Kid – High on Fire. If I had to pick one track from this crap sandwich as my favorite, it would probably be “Invisible Kid.” The main riff is actually sort of cool, even if the stupid “OOOooooo” part in the middle completely derails the song. High on Fire are no strangers to long songs, though, and Matt Pike’s gravelly voice and rocking leads could easily give this track the heft it needs to actually be an epic.
  6. My World – Testament. This song’s lyrics would be much better suited to Chuck Billy’s primate growls. Just picture him bellowing, “It’s my world now!” while Skolnick and Peterson shred. Don’t tell me you can’t picture this fitting in next to “Native Blood.”
  7. Shoot Me Again – Kingdom of Sorrow. This song is another low among lows, but at least the somber tone could be melded into something potent. The lyrics are unnecessarily tough-guy-ish, but with the right blending of southern hardcore and sludge, this tune could be warped into a pit brawler. Jamey Jasta’s Kingdom of Sorrow contains the requisite elements to fix this mess.
  8. Sweet Amber – Every Time I Die. This is another song that actually has some decent riffs and ideas. The southern swagger is already present here, so we just need a band to up the rocking vibe, and ETID will do nicely.
  9. The Unnamed Feeling – Neurosis. This song is another tune that actually isn’t that bad when compared to the rest of the album. The main riff is heavy and bleak, and the lyrics aren’t as atrocious. Let’s take Metallica out of the equation and give this track to the masters of downtrodden, palpably heavy riffs. Let Scott Kelly bellow about mental breakdowns. It makes more sense that way.
  10. Purify – Soilent Green. This song could actually be really slamming while maintaining some southern swagger, so we have to give it Soilent Green. The band expertly crafts cocktails of grindcore and sludge with effective breakdowns, so there’s no reason to think they couldn’t put a neat spin on this dud.
  11. All Within My Hands – Mastodon. The last part of this song contains probably the most cringeworthy moment in all of Metallica’s discography, but imagine that the band that wrote Crack the Skye reworked it into an epic of sorrow and loss. Leif Bearikson thinks it would work, so you should too.

Well, what do you think? What awful album do you think could be polished by expert bands? Who could make The Unspoken King listenable? Would Siren Charms be bearable if someone other than In Flames had written it? Sound off below.

Don’t know what the Washington Think Tank is? This is a weekly column where your former President poses a pressing question and allows the top minds at the Toilet ov Hell to investigate his query.

(h/t Leif Bearikson for helping me with this ridiculous idea).

(h/t to sonofagundersen and the fine folk at http://www.reddit.com/r/picrequests/ for the cover image).

  • I don’t think Siren Charms is terrible. It has some interesting twists on it. The one song with the female vox…the singer sounds almost exactly like Sonja Kraushofer from the Austrian goth/darkwave band L’Ame Immortelle. That’s a pretty new vibe for IF IMO.

    The production makes it nearly unlistenable though.

    • W.

      It’s just really boring to me. If I wanted to listen to hard rock, I’d listen to Clutch.

      • Did you like Sounds of a Playground Fading? I thought the songwriting and guitar solos was top-notch on that one.

        • W.

          I liked a couple tracks, but overall thought it was boring too. The song-writing is just very, very safe overall. They know what sells, and they’re sticking to it. That said, I did like the song “A New Dawn.”

          • “I CAN’T WAAAAIT…TO SEE THE SUN…RIIIIIIISSSSE!!! …again!”

            I don’t mind “safe” if that’s what it was. There’s plenty of “challenging” music to listen to when I’m in the mood. In fact there’s way too much “unconventionally-structured, abrasive, scream metal” for me to ever sift through. Bandcamp alone is overflowing with it 😉

          • W.

            I guess we’ll just have to disagree, then. I don’t typically listen to metal for easy-listening.

          • Maybe it’s just a generational-thing now…I don’t think I could convince many people I know IRL that any era of IF is even “poppy” let alone easy listening. I do like memorable song-structure and choruses and stuff.

            But on the subject of Clutch: I saw them quite some time ago and always mad-respected them since then. I still spin their self-titled CD regularly.

          • W.

            it very well could be. My brother was the one who got me into Metallica, but he hates extreme metal. he’s 8 years older than I am.

            And yes, I’ll spin Clutch any day. Love that band.

          • crazytaco_12

            When I was a younger lad, I tried to show my dad stuff from “A Sense of Purpose” and he thought it was just way too hard. Hated Anders’ voice and the faster skank beats. I was all like “I AM THE HIGHWAY BITCH”!

          • Edward Meehan

            I love it when people on here can disagree and still bro the fuck out like no big deal. Says a lot about this community most of dang time.

          • Well TBH if this conversation had taken place on the MS comment board two years ago I probably would have insulted W. and agitated for a long drawn-out cyber-argument haha.

          • W.

            Then I would have promptly ignored you because I’m a pacifist and don’t care much for internet arguments.

          • Pacifism is not something to hide behind.

          • Ya I remember talking shit at KSoFM in the wasteland years ago… before I got to know him in the Toilet.

      • crazytaco_12

        See, that’s the thing for me, I really don’t like Clutch. I feel like they’re just super-cliché, watered down stoner junk rock. I’ve dug some songs, but most I’m not down for. Not to be insulting, though that was sort of harsh

        • W.

          Not offended at all. If I can’t handle someone bashing something I like, I shouldn’t be writing on a metal blog.

      • Lacertilian

        Great article W.
        Got me thinking instead of mindlessly doing chores.
        Also, Clutch!

        • W.

          Thanks, dude.

    • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

      heard an interview with wolf hoffman on sirius xm this morning. Blind rage is the first #1 album accept have ever had in germany. Thats on the pop charts. Did UDO write any music or was he strictly writing lyrics in the band,

      • I think he was primarily a lyricist…but I’m just guessing TBH.

  • The Satan Ov Nvklear Hell

    St Anger is a misunderstood avant garde master piece, that summons visions of a world ravaged by depression, and capitalism, in which any outside of the norm are hounded into seeking redemption. In the track Frantic, we are told to keep searching among the frantic world, for someone or something that can truly be used to share ones repressed nature.

    TL;DR, it’s a concept album, about the ever wonderful /b/ board of 4chan.

    • The Satan Ov Nvklear Hell

      Furthering on this, Metallica took it even further, using the strange production and drum sound to give an air of building tension, of which many can understand in circumstances of extreme terror, emptiness, rage, or angst. Because of this the album is dismissed as terrible, as it takes every listener back to a place they do not want to be, it rubs them wrong, leaves them feeling empty, alone, cold. One could say it is an album expressing how one would feel locked under a totalitarian dictatorship, however it is infact about the cage of self conciousness erected around ourselves, and how deep down we know we are never free of the opinions of others, afraid that they know of your deepest perversions, fears, desires. It represents the hate and aggression that modern society masks with an air of commercialisation.

      • The Satan Ov Nvklear Hell

        and oh my lord I’m starting to convince myself with my own joke. I must continue for science!

        These themes could be proven with what Hetfield was going through at the time, with his alcohol problems, which would understandably give such a grim outlook on our life, and having been part of such a large band, so often called sell-outs, he would feel deeply judged by the fans he once adored and trusted, the ones of whom he remembers shouting “THIS IS OUR FIRST ALBUM, IT’S CALLED KILL ‘EM ALL!” at. St Anger is the outcry of a distraught James Hetfield, devoured by the capitalist lifeblood of our world and despised for it, and the following albums LuLu and Death Magnetic show that he was once again locked away after this primal surge of hate and confusion. St Anger is a truly brutal, underrated album, commenting on human nature.

        • W.

          Bravo, sir!

          • The Satan Ov Nvklear Hell

            I had fun writing all that up, maybe I’ll use that for a project I have on music theory

          • Guppusmaximus

            LOL…. Proof that you can justify anything.

          • The Satan Ov Nvklear Hell

            You can’t justify LuLu.

          • Do LOLZ justify LuLu? I actually listened to the whole thing one Saturday morning (hungover as all get-up) and it was funnier than some stand-up routines!

          • The Satan Ov Nvklear Hell

            Okay they do. I AM THE TABLE!

          • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

            It justifies itself. Mega popular band shoots it’s self in the foot purposely with no less than the king of unlistenable albums. Who can forget his double album metal machine music. That was one of the biggest kicks in the balls to the record company ever. That and neil young trans. Plus reed died shortly after making it the last piece of music he appeared on. All in all a well played hand by metallica.

          • Metaphysical Anus

            Pedophilia?

          • >:(

          • Metaphysical Anus

            It was a question!

          • Take that shit somewhere else.

          • The Satan Ov Nvklear Hell

            Take it to /b/ where he can flush it out, FLUSH IT OUT with James Hetfield!

          • W.

            actually, /b apparent got taken over by sjw’s.

          • The Satan Ov Nvklear Hell

            Oh yeah I heard about that. He can take it to masterchan then!

          • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

            DAN SWANO COULD SPIN SHIT INTO GOLD. THE GUYS’ A GODDAMN MAGICIAN. A MUSICAL ALCHEMIST I TELL’S YA.

          • The Satan Ov Nvklear Hell

            Of the likes only seen in Schuldiner himself!

          • Metaphysical Anus

            Doesn’t this just disprove his theory? Only a sick person could justify it!

          • SMOHLG

            You need to take ToH’s belief in ‘quality over quantity’ and apply it to your commenting habit in the threads.

    • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

      Metallica should re release st. anger with this as a forward in the booklet. It’s that good. Bullshitting brought into the realm of art. Bravo.

      • The Satan Ov Nvklear Hell

        If anyone knows Lars’ email, I’m more than willing to send it to him.

  • I think Newsted’s album could be saved if they just had someone else write, play and sing all of the songs.

    • W.

      Like Motorhead.

    • It’s not a BAD album. I mean it’s bad, but… I don’t know what I’m trying to say here.

  • Edward Meehan

    The Body >>>>>>

    Christs, Redeemers?

    • Metaphysical Anus

      *Christ’s, Redeemer’s
      I may have fucked up myself.

      • Edward Meehan

        What’s going on Anus?

        • Metaphysical Anus

          Ignore that, it was a fuck up on my part.

    • Metaphysical Anus

      What’s with the constant >>>>>>>>>>>>? I don’t understand.

      • NDNOvHell

        I’m glad I’m not the only one hah. I don’t know how to internet

        • W.

          It’s his thing now.

          Edit: > means greater than, so he’s just saying this thing is greater than most.

          • Metaphysical Anus

            But what does it mean?

          • W.

            See my edit. it’s a math symbol.

          • Metaphysical Anus

            I know that, but shouldn’t there be something on the other side as well?

          • W.

            If it was a real equation yes. He’s just expressing that he likes the object on the left more than most things.

          • Metaphysical Anus

            This clears things up. Thank you.

          • Edward Meehan

            W. explained it as well as I ever could lol

          • Edward Meehan

            That’s a bingo!

            Also, it’s actually quite old for me but I am bringing it to prominence ’round these parts.

          • Jormungandr

            No one knows what it means, but it’s provocative

          • NDNOvHell

            Ohhhh k. It makes sense.

    • NefariousDude

      Christs, redeemers not as primal and pained as master, we perish IMO. Still need to get atwotettb. I shall die here has some really cool moments on it but the production seems very sparse (lots of negative space) and treads water occasionally. Just makes me want to listen to Haxan cloak lol

      • Edward Meehan

        Oh man, I am loving I Shall Die Here. I’m new to The Haxan Cloak but I think it’s a mash up of some of each of their best moments.

        • NefariousDude

          I’m listening to I shall die here in headphones right now so I can get more of dat low end clarity. I love that haxan cloak and body came together for a project. I never expected it but it makes total sense.

          • Edward Meehan

            I was playing it on my way home from work today in the car, and I plan on listening to the whole thing tonight when I sit down to do some writing. See also, Wormrot…. maybe.

          • Edward Meehan

            Do you or have you ever listened to Prurient? I am no expert but some of his newer material is in regular rotation for me, he has so much material it is tough to find time to get through it all and listen to other stuff as well but I’m a big fan of some of his noise stuff and the newer dancier more electronic numbers.

          • NefariousDude

            Never heard of him. I’ll look into it, thanks!

          • Edward Meehan

            A really good point of entry would be his 2009 album Bermuda Drain. I think if you’re into The Haxan Cloak you’d definitely dig it.

    • W.

      All the Waters, in my opinion, has been their best effort so far.

      • Edward Meehan

        I got wind of The Body around the time of All The Waters, and like you mentioned above I found it to be a somewhat frightening listen amid a sea of faux scary bands. I also really dug the intensity of Master, We Perish. I am also eagerly awaiting their split with Thou!

  • Mr.CustodialArts

    “I can still look in the toilet and gaze upon that giant turd with equal disgust and fondness.”

    I have never been disgusted with ANY of my colon-birthed masterpieces-IT’S MY TURD YOU CAAAAN’T HAVE IT.

    • W.

      Sung in Hetfield’s off-key vox, “It’s myyyy tuuuurd, now! It’s myyyy tuuuurd, now!”

  • Warheart

    The funny thing with In Flames is that the mutherfuckers actually CAN play and they have improved with the years. As an example, the second riff from “In search for I” is a masterpiece that could have been in any album from Lunar Strain to Whoreacle. If they could stick to a non nu/mallcore/nonsense approach, they could be as awesome as their former years.

    • NefariousDude

      I watched the new black dahlia murder DVD / doc thing and Trevor is chillin with in flames and one of the dudes from in flames says black dahlia shreds but inflames makes more money Bcuz they pussified. Sometimes you just need to make a living you know?

      Ps. I never have listened to in flames just putting my 2 cents in Bcuz internet

      • crazytaco_12

        I remember seeing some pic compilation or video or whatever of the guys in Avenged Sevenfold and they’re wearing Lunar Strain and Immolation or some other death metal band’s shirts, yet they played fart rock just to make a living.

    • Janitor Jim Dvggan

      I love In Flames but their output from Reroute to Remain up until Sounds of a Playground Fading was crap. I love Siren Charms because it has effort compared to their melodic albums that came before it.

  • Guppusmaximus

    Pale Communion (entire album) – PSMS (Portnoy/Sheehan/MacAlpine/Sherinian)

    • Metaphysical Anus

      Pale Communion is a good album. Portnoy would just make it completely shitty.

      • Guppusmaximus

        Yea, it’s pretty easy to crap all over him nowadays but Portnoy is a far more accomplished drummer than Axenrot who struggles aping Lopez’s brilliant Jazz influenced work.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0d5wGh24iY

        • Metaphysical Anus

          He can play well, really well. I just don’t like the guy. He seems like a douche. Plus he was in Dream Theater.

          • Guppusmaximus

            No doubt, he probably is a douche but his work in DT led the way for Opeth regardless of who Akerfeldt recites as his influences.

          • Metaphysical Anus

            It probably is so, but that doesn’t change the fact that I hate DT.

          • Guppusmaximus

            I haven’t truly liked DT since “Awake”,so, I understand completely because their last album was regurgitated tripe.

            Even so,while Pale Communion might have been a good album for any other retro Prog act,IMHO, it shits all over the legacy that is Opeth and I think PSMS, Levin / Ruddess / Minnemann, Spock’s Beard or Transatlantic could have done a much better interpretation of those songs because they are far more talented at playing that style of music.

          • Metaphysical Anus

            We’ll just have to disagree and shake hands.

          • Guppusmaximus

            Cool…*hand shake*. I just like to debate about music & read other people’s p.o.v.’s . I appreciate your input….

          • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

            are you kidding, they are the new rush. They have surpassed rush in sales, filling arenas and musicianship. Rush are old and tired.

  • Stockhausen

    I don’t think anyone could make The Unspoken King listenable, it would have to be re-written entirely.

    • W.

      Use your imaginaaaaation.

    • God

      Unpopular opinion incoming:

      Unspoken king would have been decent if the band name wasn’t Cryptopsy. You can’t convince me otherwise that the track “worship your demons” fucking slays.

      • Tyree

        I think I remember way back when talking to you about this on MS. I do agree though that this album is not Cryptopsy.

  • Tyree

    Indeed, Primitive Man pretty much take care of the hate factor. A big YUP there!

    • Metaphysical Anus
      • Tyree

        As in “Yes”.

        • Metaphysical Anus

          ‘Twas a joke because YUP is also a Finnish band.

          • Tyree

            and YES is an English rock band.

          • Metaphysical Anus

            And they used to be great.

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            So did YUP

          • Metaphysical Anus

      • That was horrendous. Why did I listen to it all?

        • Metaphysical Anus

          You lost some points again. You’ve been losing a lot of points as of late. What’s going on, dude?

          • I dunno! Stop yelling! Maybe I need to become McNulty again.

          • Metaphysical Anus

            You may like this one a bit more. One of my favourite Finnish bands.
            https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=hZFtZdm_pok

          • Yuck, is that like the Finnish version of Creed?
            (Just kidding brah. It certainly was interesting! I have no idea what kind of music to call it.)

          • Metaphysical Anus

            You almost gave me a heart attack.

          • Sorry bby, I would never do that to you on purpose.

          • Metaphysical Anus

            I could never forgive anyone for not liking CMX.

          • Listening to more… still not sure what genre…

          • Metaphysical Anus

            Usually they’re labeled as prog rock, alt rock or art rock.
            https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=70_Tikoa36k

          • Metaphysical Anus

            Maybe it was a failed experiment, like me changing to Death.

          • Only difference is, I miss Death. You’re not going to miss A Scatalogical Domain!

          • Edward Meehan

            I’ll miss ASD a little.

          • Metaphysical Anus

            The only difference between me and Death is less jokes about death and less Ingmar Bergman references.

          • Death had me laughing so hard that day. I was in tears.

          • Metaphysical Anus

            I’m still the same guy. I could make more death jokes, but they would be pretty morbid. I don’t know if people would like that.

          • crazytaco_12

            Yeah dude, I’m honestly way happier with you as Metaphysical Anus than Death, just my .02

  • Dang W, after finishing the first bullet point, I was expecting you to make a drum-related joke on each one.

    • W.

      I really should have and easily could have. Opportunities missed, I suppose.

  • Could anyone salvage Megadeth-Risk?

    • Is Risk worse than Supercollider?

    • Leif Bearikson

      I was thinking of this earlier, and I just can’t think of any way to make those songs good. Mustaine succeeded in making the ultimate turd.

    • W.

      That’s a good question. I bet in the hands of good rock (not metal) artists it could be interesting.

  • crazytaco_12

    I’ve always wanted to hear Crowbar cover Lana Del Rey’s “Videogames”. I think when Kirk does his more ominous, sort of melodic voice (like in “Planets Collide” and “Symmetry in White”), that could really work with some drawn out, fat chords behind it. *raspy as fuck* HONEY, IS THAT TRVE!!!!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cE6wxDqdOV0

  • crazytaco_12

    Also, while I think “Scum” and “From Enslavement…” are good albums, I’d really like to hear them re-recorded.

    • Janitor Jim Dvggan

      When it comes to things that need to be re-recorded XIII by Mushroomhead needs that badly. I love Mushroomhead and XIII has some of my favorite songs of theirs but the production quality of that and all their albums before that is horrifyingly bad. Demo tapes from bands like Static X had better quality than XIII. Also Mudvayne needs to re-record LD50 because the production is extremely dated now and almost all nu metal bands need to re-record their big albums because the production on almost all nu metal albums is abominable and extremely dated.

    • Tyree

      Those albums sort of stand the test of time but, YES! I’d love to hear those albums re-recoded.

    • W.

      I dunno, man. I dig those albums. No need to mess with them.

  • Poseur Diposeur

    Scott Hulls Drum Machine. Had to say it

  • Leif Bearikson

    W. I have been thinking on this all day. Does anyone think The X-Factor by Iron Maiden can be saved? Does anyone even remember that album exists?

    • W.

      I do. Give it a spin, Bear.

  • Sponge Of Mystery

    i actually like this album *prepares for verbal abuse*