Monday, April 28, 2008

Monsters of rock

Inevitably it's impossible to watch Metallica documentary (or rockumentary, if you will) 'Some Kind Of Monster', as I did recently, without immediately thinking of 'This Is Spinal Tap'.

After all, the behind-the-scenes access-all-areas film made during the tortuously protracted recording sessions for their 2003 album St Anger features ridiculously petulant feuds and childish tantrums on the part of James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich while a wearied Kirk Hammett, forever shaking his head, tries to keep the peace with a futile whine of "Hey guys, can't we all just get along?" And that's not to mention the psychologist / relationship counsellor they're paying $40,000 dollars a week to be call day and night...

But the other film that sprang to mind was 'DiG!', because both made for equally entertaining viewing despite my not caring much for the bands they focus on (in the case of 'DiG!', The Dandy Warhols and The Brian Jonestown Massacre).

And with 'Some Kind Of Monster' it isn't all laughs at the expense of the protagonists. It's actually a grippingly revealing insight into a world that music fans rarely see - one in which egotistical multi-million-selling musicians can suffer from envy and a crisis of confidence just by seeing their former bassist performing with his new band, and in which a band who have founded their career on being loud and angry but who now find themselves in comfortable middle-aged affluence feel the pressure to come up with something that stands up to their back catalogue.

And that's not to mention the way the film unpicks and exposes the creative process itself, showing the trio noodling away in the studio with little clue of how things might take shape - or, rather, be moulded into shape by ever-present producer Bob Rock.

Perhaps most curious is the feeling, unspoken but evidently shared by all involved, that no matter how bad the tensions and arguments get, they should persevere because ultimately they have something special together that should be preserved - misplaced though that feeling might be, when their collaborative brainstorming session for lyrical ideas throws up the line "My lifestyle determines my deathstyle" and they all decide it should make it onto the finished album...


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