Jason Newsted seemed to really get a raw deal when he walked out of Metallica. Looking back on his time in the band, James Hetfied had talked about Jason not being treated as well as Cliff Burton was, saying “it must have been very bittersweet for him. Like a dream come true by I’m stepping into someone’s shoes who can never be filled. It must have been very difficult for him.”
Just like Cliff had gotten a few years before him though, Metallica had forgotten about Jason when they were going through therapy in Some Kind of Monster.
While most of the lyrics of St. Anger were assembled by every member of the band as an extension of therapy, the closer of the record actually has a little bit more to do with Jason’s departure.
Out of all that anger came “All Within My Hands,” which seem to mean something much more than raw aggression when you take into account Jason’s exit. After talking in Some Kind of Monster of creatively choking Jason, “All Within My Hands” comes from forcing Jason out of the creative space.
Coming out of Jason’s decision to leave, James used this song as a means of documenting his internal problems, talking about how “love is control” in the lyrics and crushing everything in his hands to mold Jason into doing what he was told.
Though James may have been at the core of the songwriting back in the day, Lars actually had the final say on Jason’s quitting, saying:
“The ironic thing is that the model for what would have been the perfect Metallica in Jason’s mind is the one that exists now. That is kind of ironic. It’s also a little sad because Jason’s a good guy, and he put a lot of effort into the band for many years, and in retrospect, he was never really fully accepted into the band. Then when he tried to go elsewhere to satisfy his creative needs, he was told — well, barked at — that he couldn’t.
[Newsted] was the sacrificial lamb for our spiritual and mental growth as well as our creative growth, and it just sucks. It’s medieval.”
Jason may have held on to his integrity and left the band at the right time, but if he hadn’t left when he did, the Metallica that we know today would have probably looked (and sounded) a lot different.