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