Metallica: Some Kind of Monster (15)

Directed by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky
Screening at FACT from 29th October - 4th November 2004

Reviewed by Adam Ford

Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, Metallica were the world's biggest heavy band. Albums such as ...And Justice For All and Master Of Puppets shifted millions of copies and blazed a trail for baroque-inflected headbanging. Then things gradually turned sour. A new generation moved metal in a new direction, and Metallica struggled to keep up. Bassist Jason Newsted left for pastures new, drummer Lars Ulrich (himself a former bootlegger) launched a personal crusade against internet file sharing and alienated half the fanbase, whilst frontman James Hetfield hit the bottle.

Out of the wreckage, Metallica eventually decided to make a new album (eventually named St. Anger), and have a film crew film their progress. However, because the band met with problem after problem during this process, the documentary became so much more than just another 'making of'. There are countless door slams and petty squabbles as the band's management enlists a personal $40,000-per week shrink to help resolve the in-fighting and James checks into rehab. Here, Berlinger & Sinofsky cleverly interweave scenes, undercutting the clash of monumental egos with footage of the antagonists' own children joyfully running about the studio.

Overall, the viewer is left with the sad impression that Metallica are washed-up old has-beens who now rock for rock's sake (or even worse, money's sake). It has to be said, Ulrich makes a great comedy villain with his whiny petulance and spoiled brattishness. But why should you care about these self-absorbed multi-millionaires? Well...if you’re not a fan you probably shouldn’t, but I am so I found Some Kind of Monster a fascinating insight into the minds of my fallen heroes. And with legendary mosher hangout The Swan just next door to the FACT, fans should be in plentiful supply.