METALLICA's forthcoming "St. Anger" album, the group's first since 1997's "Reload", features bass tracks courtesy of longtime producer Bob Rock, an accomplished musician whose own rock-star aspirations were documented on several CDs, including the largely-ignored self-titled 1992 LP from his now-defunct band ROCKHEAD.
Although ex-METALLICA bassist Jason Newsted believes that the group's decision to hire Rock to play on their upcoming CD was ultimately "the right thing" to do, he says that the producer is simply incapable of playing the bass with the ferocity and aggression required by some of his former band's more intense, high-energy material.
"With no disrespect to Bob whatsoever, he's no bass player," Jason told Bass Player magazine in its May 2003 issue. "He can lay down some notes and he knows music theory and things like that, but it's not possible for him to play with ferocity on songs such as 'Damage Inc.', 'Battery' and 'Creeping Death'. He's spent more time on guitar and producing, so the aggression that's required for those songs to be properly executed would not be present. That's all, that's just facts. [For the 'St. Anger' album] he was doing something that I understand was a favor to those guys, trying to help them move forward, but he had no intention of being their bass player. He just had to help them get where they needed to go. I completely understand, and as a METALLICA fan, I'd say that was the right thing. God bless them for that."
Newsted, who is currently doing double duty with VOIVOD and OZZY OSBOURNE, reserves most of his praise for his replacement in METALLICA — former OZZY/SUICIDAL TENDENCIES bassist Robert Trujillo — whose addition to the group was "the best choice [METALLICA] could have possibly made," Jason said. "Robert is solid and musical, he knows his shit and his style is very strong. He's also a strong-willed person — strong physically and mentally. He's got a big heart and a good family. All of those things are important to be able to put up with something as huge as the METALLICA entity, and he's got what it takes. I'm excited to see METALLICA live now, man. As a fan, I wasn't sure METALLICA could be able to come out and be a force again, but now that they have Robert, I think they will. If Robert and James can click the way I think they can, they could be a huge, huge thing."
METALLICA's "St. Anger" is due on June 10 through Elektra Records.