Rock & Roll Books
Metallica: This Monster Livesby Joe Berlinger, with Greg Milner
St. Martin's Press, 310 pp., $24.95
Title aside, Metallica: This Monster Lives never misleads the reader into thinking it's all about music. In fact, as readers learn, music was banned from author/ filmmaker Joe Berlinger's childhood home. Meaning, readers looking for insight into Metallica will be disappointed, while those looking for the same on Joe Berlinger will be delighted. Metallica: This Monster Lives exists as yet another offspring in the family tree of media surrounding the heavy metal band's 2003 album St. Anger. There was the album, the tour, and Berlinger's documentary Some Kind of Monster with partner Bruce Sinofsky. This makes the 50% of the book dedicated to the movie, and thus the album, redundant. Any anecdotes about making the film (about the making of the music) are shades of what viewers will already know. The fascinating stuff comes when Berlinger detours into chapters about his early successes and failures in the film world. Most compelling is Berlinger's account of how he went from award-winning documentary director to the critically reviled horror helmer of Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2. When This Monster dwells on Metallica, it's less about their dynamics or songwriting and more about how Berlinger captured it. Berlinger is often heavy-handed, especially when he draws parallels between his filmmaking career and Metallica's life in the music biz. "If you were to guess which creative partnership Berlinger-Sinofsky or Metallica was in the healthiest state, you'd have to go with the metal-heads," he writes. If you were to guess which aspect of Metallica the documentary or the album was given the real close-up here, you'd have to go with the cinephiles.