Picks and Pans Review: St. Anger

updated 07/14/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/14/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Metallica (Elektra)

Metallica doesn't show any rust on this, the band's first new studio disc since 1997's Re-Load. After the group's forays into grunge and even classical, St. Anger is a welcome return to '80s speed metal, with furious guitar riffs and bludgeoning bass and percussion that put upstarts like Linkin Park and Godsmack to shame. Metallica smoothly survives the departure of bassist Jason Newsted. Meanwhile, for the first time in the band's two-decade history, frontman James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich share lyrical duty with someone else (guitarist Kirk Hammett), but the results are mixed. On the title cut, Hetfield growls, "I'm madly in anger with you." He should be angry about those lyrics.

BOTTOM LINE: Mighty Metallica

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