Metallica's St. Anger - the legendary metal band's first album of new material since the touchy-feely twin horrors Load (1996) and Re-Load (1997) - is a dense, sonically messy one-note return to their speed metal roots. Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky's documentary about the trials and tribulations surrounding the making of that comeback album, however, is a full-blown opera of metallic drama, passion, and misery. Filled with the torment and rage that fuels the band's finest work, it's a piercing vision of an iconic band teetering on the brink of collapse, and a fascinating portrait of the creative process as explosive, potentially destructive, and, ultimately, cathartic.

Berlinger and Sinofsky's film began as a simple record label-financed project to help promote the band's new record, yet soon morphed into a marathon three-year venture as the group - reeling from the departure of its long-time bassist Jason Newsted, and with the remaining members struggling to cope with newfound adult responsibilities and long-held bad habits - began to fray at the edges. Forced to attend group sessions with therapist-to-the-stars Phil Towle after Newsted's sudden exit, the band's remaining three members seem thoroughly fed up with each other - diminutive drummer and band spokesperson Lars Ulrich refuses to see eye to eye with singer (and struggling alcoholic) James Hetfield, who exasperatedly rolls his eyes at Towle's "Metallica Mission Statement" and ignores guitarist Kirk Hammett's pleas to make nice with Ulrich. A dysfunctional family with Ulrich as the band's de facto mommy, Hetfield as the controlling, liquored-up daddy, and Hammett as the timid child trying to stop the fighting, the group seems ready to explode. Then, with inter-band relationships at their most strained, Hetfield unexpectedly leaves for rehab, bringing an abrupt halt to sessions for the new album and awkwardly placing his band members' professional lives on indefinite hold.

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