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‘Frantic’ – Story Behind the Song

Metallica 'Frantic'
Daniel Berehulak, Getty Images

In 2003, Metallica released their eighth studio album, a record that will forever carry with it much controversy. Prior to ‘St. Anger,’ it seemed like everything was headed in the right direction; seven studio albums into their career and Metallica had sold millions upon millions of records, picked up several industry awards and even recorded an epic performance with the San Francisco Symphony.

Things came to a screeching halt in early 2001 when it was announced that Jason Newsted would no longer be the bassist for Metallica. Fairly soon after that, much to their fans’ excitement, the band entered the studio to begin work on their next album. After a couple of tumultous years – a new writing and recording style, alcohol rehab, being without a bassist – Metallica released ‘St. Anger’ on June 5, 2003. As fans came home with the album, the first song that would lay the groundwork for the remaining 10 songs was ‘Frantic,’ an all out, in-your-face metal tune.

The second single released from ‘St. Anger,’ ‘Frantic’ was met with a lot of criticism. From Lars Ulrich‘s ringing snare drum to James Hetfield‘s raw vocals, the song was the epitome of the overall sound of the album.

One of the most intense and angry songs on the album, ‘Frantic’ deals with issues Metallica faced throughout their history as a band, including Hetfield’s alcoholism. Before Metallica played the song on July 13, 2003 in Orlando, Fla., Hetfield said, “This song’s about life, like right f—ing now.”

Guitarist Kirk Hammett provided a deep contribution to the lyrics. Near the end of the song, the phrases ‘Birth is pain,’ ‘Life is pain’ and ‘Death is pain’ are all eerily sung in the background. Those phrases stem from dukkha, a Buddhist term that is the first of the Four Noble Truths.

As revealed in the documentary about the making of the album, ‘Some Kind of Monster,’ Ulrich was adamant that the name of the album should be ‘Frantic.’ However, the consensus of the group was that it was too intense of a title, and everyone agreed ‘St. Anger’ was a better name. To date, ‘Frantic’ has been played less than 200 times live and was first performed on May 3, 2003 in Universal City, Calif.

Watch Metallica Perform ‘Frantic’ – Seioul, South Korea – Aug. 15, 2006

Next: Read All About Metallica's 'St. Anger'

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