In my opinion, the 90s downslide wasn’t so much the instrumentation, which varied from kinda okay to occasionally quite good, but the lyrics and vocals. Let’s compare the former:
Blackened Is the End
Winter it Will Send
“I Disappear”, 2000
Hey Hey Hey
Here I go now
What the hell?
As for the vocals, Hetfield has certainly increased his singing ability and vocal range, but he also started saying “oooh” and “yeah!” a lot. Rob Zombie pulls off “yeah,” but James just doesn’t. It sounds wimpy, especially when he sings old songs (their perfomance of “Fade to Black” at the VH1 Music Awards a couple years ago actually made the original version unlistenable for a few months)
So anyway, the three remaining members of Metallica have a new album coming out soon called St. Anger. The word on the street is that it’s supposed to be a return to the pre-suck era. I first read this on the MTVNews site, and was fairly suspicious, since the guy who wrote the article probably thought the last Limp Bizkit album had “killer riffs.” But this review translated from a Swedish mag called Close-Up was also very positive about the album, and I’m about a trillion times more likely to trust a Swede — any Swede — about metal than I am a guy whose career ambition is to follow in the footsteps of Gideon Yago. I do find it odd that they did this after the only guy in the band who seemed to remember what was cool about Metallilca left, but hey, maybe they’re doing coke again.