A DEFENSE OF ST. ANGER (NO, NOT BY US)
Kevin Stewart-Panko is a brave, brave man.
Today The Deciblog launched a new weekly column, “Justify Your Shitty Taste,” in which “every Wednesday morning, a Decibel staffer or special guest will take to the Deciblog to bitch and moan at length as to why everybody’s full of shit and [this week’s] dud is, in fact, The Shit.” And the first batter up is the venerable Stewart-Panko, and the album he’s defending, in case the headline didn’t give it away, is St. Anger, perhaps the single most universally loathed metal record of the past ten years.
Stewart-Panko being Stewart-Panko, though, his argument is actually reasonably compelling. Here’s an excerpt:
“…if it weren’t for the fact that these are same yokels who wrote ‘Hit the Lights,’ ‘Dyers Eve’ and everything in-between, the response to a shitty drum sound would have been far more muted and we definitely wouldn’t be kvetching about it seven years later. Fuck, I wouldn’t be hasty in wagering that if ‘black metal band X’ hailing from Estonia-via-the-forests-of-British-Columbia offered us a similar snare sound on an album released by Profound Lore, the metal community would be back-slapping them for their enduring kult-ness and lack of compromise. Decibel has congratulated Darkthrone for creating way shittier-sounding albums than St. Anger.”
He’s probably right — there are countless black and death metal releases (but mostly black metal releases) that people praise even though they sound like they were recorded with an old cassette player in a basement in a sewer in a vagina in a nutsack in an asshole in a tumor. But even Stewart-Panko admits that the length of some (I’d say “most,” but, again, that’s just me) of the songs is “excruciating… especially since there’s no spotlight on one of metal’s most influential lead guitarists and too much spotlight on lyrics about James Hetfield’s addiction battles.”
And I’d argue that the terrible production would matter less if the songs were good. Stewart-Panko is right when he asserts that I (I mean he’s not speaking directly to me obviously, but he writes “you” in the piece) can “at least recall and hum the melody to ‘Some Kind of Monster’,” but I can also recall and hum the melody to the Diet Coke jingle. Doesn’t make it a good song — just makes it a song I’ve heard more times than I care to admit. In Diet Coke’s case, it’s ’cause we didn’t always have DVRs with which to fast forward through commercials, and in “Some Kind of Mosnter’s” case, it’s ’cause I listened to St. Anger multiple times trying to make sure I’d actually heard what I heard. And I did. I did heard it.
Read the rest of Stewart-Panko’s argument here, then come back and let us know what you think in the comments section. I know for a fact that some of you agree with Stewart-Panko, so don’t be a chicken shit who’s too scared to catch his back.