Director: Joe Berlinger, Bruce Sinofsky
Starring: James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett, Bob Rock, Jason Newstead
The film that redefines group therapy
In 2001, Metallica is trying to get their shit together to create a new album. By then the band is considered to be the biggest metal band of all time, but they are having trouble within the band. After bass player Jason Newstead has decides to leave the band, the remaining members decide to hire the therapist Phil Towle to help them get through their troubles.
They continue to have group therapy while starting sessions to create material for the new album, but vocalist Jason Hetfield does not seem focused or happy and ends up checking in to rehab. After he gets out and the band gets back together they continue to work on the new album and also sets out to find the replacement for Newstead.
This is a documentary about the state of Metallica at the time of filming and does not require you to be a huge fan of the band to enjoy it. It’s more about a band that has made it, done much more than they ever would have hoped and are now struggling to keep their head on the ground.
The band had done another documentary called A Year and a Half in the Life of Metallica back in the early 90’s when they recorded their hugely successful Black Album. If you see that one first and then this one then you would hardly guess that it is the same musicians that you are watching. Back then they still had some ruthlessness to them and incredible huge ego’s, these days it’s only the ego’s that are left, but they are even bigger.
Hetfield and Ulrich seems to have a very complex relationship, where both want to be the head honcho and get their way. Both have their heads to far up in the clouds to even consider that their opinion might not be right and this causes them to be mad at each other a lot, yet they rarely are able to talk to each other like normal men even after 20 years of friendship.
Their hunger for control caused Newstead to leave the band and he seems more happy to do his own thing instead, something which the Metallica guys have problems accepting. Kirk Hammett fits perfectly with the monster of Hetfield/Ulrich and he rarely speaks up to them. The only time he seems to be upset is when he is not allowed to have more guitar solo’s on the new album, which he is in full rights to be. He does seem like a good guy though, not letting the fame go to his head.
Their group therapy sessions look like a joke from the outside. How they could go ahead and pay 40,000 dollars a month for Towle is baffling to me. I can’t see anything he does for them that a normal shrink couldn’t do, but I guess they think that they deserve the best or rather the most expensive they can find. I guess this does work well for those around them though that surely is making a lot of money doing whatever work for them that they need.
It’s funny to see when they finally find a new bass player and decide to hire Robert Trujillo into the band and welcome him with an advance of a million dollars. The look on this tough looking guy is funny and he surely felt like he had just wun the lottery. It should be said that he seems to fit in right with the group and he is still in it almost ten years later.
I can’t say that Bob Rock comes out greatly in this. You would think that a big successful music producer would have better things to do than sit and listen to these guys bitch and moan about their lives, regardless if his paycheck is big. Dave Mustaine is also shown in a therapy session with Lars Ulrich for a few minutes. Mustaine is of course the successful mastermind behind Megadeth, but he still has problems accepting that he got kicked out of Metallica at their very early stages.
Filmmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky probably went into this thinking they were going to make a normal documentary about a band making an album, but got so much more. They were lucky to have a band that regardless of ego, let them do their job and create something very fascinating.
Some Kind of Monster is a very fascinating documentary about a band that has become bigger then what they could handle. It has created two monsters in Ulrich and Hetfield who are in need to have total control over everything and has forgotten their origins shouting metal up your fucking ass. It’s a documentary that any band who makes it big should watch and examine to avoid the same happening to them.
Regardless of how big bloated their ego’s have become and how much of a douchebag Lars Ulrich is displaying here, they are kind of brave to allow such insight into their lives. Either brave or delusional of how they look to others. Their participation here has created one of the most amusing and interesting documents about making an album ever made. It’s too bad that the album St. Anger wasn’t remotely as interesting as the documentary.