The St. Anger Snare Drum Sound – Why It’s Terrible and How to Recreate It!

Metallica performing at their ‘Madly in Anger’ World Tour in 2003, in support of their record St. Anger

The release of St. Anger in 2003 was a low-point for Metallica. It resonated badly with fans, but do you know what resonated even worse? That snare drum sound!

Before we get into it, I just want to say that I’m a big fan of Metallica. In fact, I also have to be honest and say that Lars Ulrich was quite an influence for me as a young drummer, and that can also be said for many other metal drummers.

How Do You Make the St. Anger Snare Drum Sound?

Simply just release the wires from your snare drum!

For Lars Ulrich, this resulted in an overly-ringy sound. This was quite a strange thing to do in a metal album, and it was one of many strange decisions that were made in the creative direction that Metallica took for this album.

Most drummers forget to engage their snare wires at one point or another. It usually leaves the drummers with a feeling of disappointment when they hit their drum, and they quickly reach to tighten to the bottom snare drum head. Though for Lars, for some reason, he decided that he liked the sound, and the rest is history!

Before we talk about it any further, have a listen to the snare sound here, you won’t miss it!

It’s usually unfair to criticize the creative direction of bands and musicians, but metal fans get particularly vocal when they feel their favorite bands are going in a wrong direction for the wrong reasons.

Lars Ulrich both explains the idea while poking fun at himself at the same time:

“This is how you take a normal, good-sounding snare drum, and turn it into the complete abortion of St. Anger!”

Is the Drum Sound from St. Anger Really That Bad?

I think the snare drum sound gets very tiring as you listen throughout the album. If it was only played for a song or two then you might be able to get past it, but it just persists for too long!

Personally, I look back at the St. Anger song with a bit of nostalgia, like a sort of guilty pleasure, even though I know the songs weren’t that good. Though I can’t sit through the entire album!

That said, I’ve seen them perform some of the songs live since the release of the album, and they play them much better!

I kind of wish that they re-recorded some of the songs from the album.

Most importantly, Lars plays the songs with his snare-wires engaged (phew!).

If you compare the sound between the recorded album and live versions of the track, you will probably realize that the live drum tracks sound a LOT better.

There’s a pretty funny video where this drummer plays some legendary Metallica songs, but all drums tuned and sounding like St. Anger Snares. It makes for hilarious and unsavory listening!

For hardcore fans of Metallica, St. Anger and the snare sound was yet another major departure from the sound and style that they once loved.

However, Metallica have since gone back to their trashier roots with subsequent albums, much to the approval of their fans.


That’s a quick run-down of Lars Ulrich’s snare drum sound from St. Anger. It’s not a great moment in the history of the band!

In summary, release the snare wires for that ringy sound. It will bring you back to everything that you hate and love from one of Metallica’s least popular albums.

Mike O'Connor
Mike O'Connor

I've been playing drums for over 18 years. I work as both a session drummer and a drum teacher, and I love to share my knowledge and tips on this site. You can also find me on the Electronic Drum Advisor YouTube channel.

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