It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years since the release of Metallica’s documentary, Some Kind of Monster. No matter what fans may think of the film, it documented a number of turning points in Metallica’s career — both good and bad.
Jason Newsted, the bassist who joined Metallica after the tragic death of original bassist Cliff Burton in 1986, had just left the band right before the documentary began. At the time of his departure, Newsted cited physical injuries he’d sustained over the years to his neck and back from playing the metal music he loved. But that was a misnomer of sorts. In Some Kind of Monster, Jason hinted at problems with James Hetfield, Metallica’s frontman and one of its founders, as well as a general fatigue with the Metallica “machine” as a whole.
In an interview with Scuzz TV in late 2013, Jason finally explained why he actually left Metallica. Newsted said he had been working on a side project with a band called Echobrain. They produced a demo, and everyone, including Metallica’s management, loved it.
“The management of Metallica was very, very excited about Echobrain. Like, wanted to take it out for me. Wanted me to do Echobrain also, with Metallica. They felt Echobrain was that good. The singer was that good. And it didn’t affect Metallica because it was a totally different kind of thing.”
But there was one very key person who didn’t like Echobrain: James Hetfield. Jason explained how Hetfield put a stop to the whole thing.
“James heard about it, and was not happy. And he was pretty much out to put the kibosh on the whole thing. Because it would somehow affect Metallica in his eyes because now the managers were interested in something I was doing that had nothing to do with him.”
According to Newsted, James then spoke to the managers privately, and they in turn wanted nothing to do with Echobrain after that meeting. Newsted said it was the last straw, and he knew he had to get out.
Some Kind of Monster also documented James Hetfield’s spiral into alcoholism. While the documentary was being filmed, a pivotal scene shows Metallica’s drummer, Lars Ulrich, and Hetfield arguing in the recording studio. Finally, James leaves, slamming the door, and the members of the band wouldn’t see him again for over a year. Hetfield checked himself into a rehab facility and took his time coming back to the band with the chief worry in his mind whether or not he could do Metallica sober.
Some Kind of Monster depicts the return of the mighty Hetfield, and how the band had to work through his new lifestyle — a process that wasn’t easy or pretty.
Another key plot point in Some Kind of Monster is the choosing of the band’s new bassist. Several bassists are shown trying out for the band, including Pepper Keenan, Jeordie White, Scott Reeder, Eric Avery, and Chris Wyse, but the clear winner to both Metallica and the audience was Robert Trujillo. Trujillo started in the late 80s with Suicidal Tendencies, branched out with ST frontman Mike Muir to form Infectious Grooves, and in the years preceding the release of Some Kind of Monster, Trujillo had been working with Ozzy Osbourne.
Robert was a perfect fit for Metallica. Considered a bass virtuoso, his laid back “surfer zen” attitude was just what Metallica needed.
Finally, Some Kind of Monster depicted a reconstruction of a band that was on the brink of extinction. It marked some new attitudes and different work ethics, and ultimately the band succeeded in recording their 8th studio album, St. Anger, which debuted at number one on the Billboard Charts.
In honor of the 10th anniversary of the release of Some Kind of Monster, Metallica is reissuing the documentary on Blu-Ray, according to Metallica’s website. The release will include a 25-minute documentary entitled This Monster Lives that debuted at the recent Toronto International Film Festival. This Monster Lives looks back at the filming of Some Kind of Monster, and what’s happened in Metallica since Some Kind of Monster was originally released.
[Images via Portalternativo, Taringa and Zuguide]