Fans and drummers have consistently criticised the thin, snapping sound of the drum throughout the album, which was recorded at a time when the band were at breaking point.
In an interview with SiriusXM’s Eddie Trunk yesterday (July 29), Ulrich defended the record when asked if he stands behind the divisive snare sound.
“I stand behind it 100% because, at that moment, that was the truth,” he said. “Just my personality, I’m always just looking ahead, always thinking about the next thing.
“That’s just how I’m wired,” he continued. “Whether it’s Metallica always thinking ahead, or in my personal life, or in relationships, whatever I’m doing — I’m just always thinking ahead. Sometimes, arguably, I spent too much time in the future, but I rarely spend any time in the past. And so the only time this stuff really comes up is in interviews.”
Opening up on the record, he explained: “I hear ‘St. Anger’. That’s a pummelling and a half, and there’s a lot of incredible, raw energy, and it’s, like, ‘Woah!’
“It’s been slapped around a little bit. But the snare thing, it was like a super-impulsive, momentary… We were working on a riff. [James] Hetfield was playing a riff in the control room. And I ran up. I was, like, ‘I need to put a beat behind that.’ I ran into the tracking room and sat down and played a couple of beats over this riff to not lose the energy of the moment, and I forgot to turn the snare on.
Ulrich continued: “And then we were listening back to it, and I was, like, ‘Wow! That sound kind of fits that riff, and it sounds weirdly odd and kind of cool.’ And then I just kind of left the snare off for the rest of the sessions, more or less. And then it was, like, ‘Yeah, that’s cool. That’s different. That’ll fuck some people up. That sounds like that’s part of the pummeling,’ or whatever.
“And then it becomes this huge, debated thing. And sometimes we’ll kind of sit on the sidelines and go, like, ‘Holy shit! We didn’t see that one coming,’ in terms of the issue that it turns into.”
The record was released in 2003 at the end of a two-year period marked both by the departure of bassist Jason Newsted and James Hetfield’s lengthy stay in rehab. The tumultuous recording sessions were later captured in the 2004 documentary Metallica: Some Kind Of Monster.
Ulrich went on to say that he has no regrets about any of Metallica’s production choices throughout their career, explaining: “I know at that time, they were the truth and it was the instinctive and the right thing to do.”
‘S&M2’ is the follow-up to the band’s 1999 live album ‘S&M’, and was recorded in San Francisco over two nights in September 2019 with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, a gig commemorating the 20th anniversary of the original ‘S&M’.