If you have ever been a fan of the band Metallica, certainly the most successful heavy metal band of all time, this revealing look at how a 20 year career in rock & roll can reduce even the mighty to rubble is a must see. On the eve of Jason Newsted's departure from the band, Metallica decided to hire filmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky to shoot a documentary (no doubt fueled by the success of The Osbournes) about their attempt to move on and record a new album. Also enter $40,000.00 a month therapist/coach Phil Towle, hired to help the band work through their creative and personal issues, and let me tell you, there were issues, as this DVD reveals. This is one of the things about Some Kind of Monster that really works-this is not some glamorous rock-u-mentary or hard rocking concert film, this is two years in the life of a mammoth band who had just been dealt a blow by a long standing member leaving, are struggling to find their musical creativity again in an ever changing market, and trying to deal with addictions as well as severe and long standing personality conflicts. It makes for hours of fascinating viewing, and the saying "sad but true" really applies here.
I don't want to spoil too much here, but you get to see the boiling tensions that have built over the years between James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich come to a head, as well as how Kirk Hammett sort of fell in the middle of the two of them while struggling with his own indecisiveness and reclusiveness. Hetfield unexpectedly checks into alcohol rehab while the band is laying down basic tracks for what would become St. Anger, leaving the future of the recording and the band in limbo for close to a year, which then makes Ulrich and Hammett resentful, adding more fuel to the fire. Some Kind of Monster also reveals how much producer Bob Rock had become the unofficial fourth member of the band, until they eventually hired Rob Trujillo as Newsted's official replacement (check out the audition sequence with several big name players, including Corrosion of Conformity's Pepper Keenan). Also of note is Lars' confrontation with Dave Mustaine, where the two finally meet after many years and talk about Dave's sacking many years prior. Sadly, Mustaine comes across as a guy who, although he has found great success with Megadeth, never got over being fired from the band back in the early 80's due to his alcohol and drug problems.
While the story eventually unfolds to a rather happy ending, with the band getting back into the studio and finishing up St.Anger, working through their differences and undertaking a huge stadium tour, you have to wonder what has happened since this documentary was finished. Has Hetfield stayed sober? Will his yearning for more time with his family effect the future of the band? Are the existing issues between Hetfield and Ulrich ever going to really go away? Was St.Anger really the direction the band wanted to go in, and what does the future hold for Metallica? All these questions remain unanswered, and it will be interesting to see what happens in the future. The second DVD contains all sorts of bonus footage not used in the regular movie, much of which is very worthwhile as it adds even more insight into the turbulent times. Some Kind of Monster is a funny, sad, and serious view of the real life of three very human folks who also just happen to make up one of the biggest bands of all time.