Metallica took a lot of heat for the sound and direction of their 2003 album 'St. Anger.' A lot of people complained about the drum sound and the stripped-down songwriting approach, but the guys in Stygian beg to differ. The Pennsylvania combo started out playing Metallica covers over a decade ago and cite the legends as one of their prime influences. They also don't make apologies for digging more mainstream rock acts like Staind and Shinedown.

On the eve of the release of their 'Fury Rising' album, Stygian drummer Steve Bacchia spoke to Noisecreep about and the new record, their love for Nickelback and the aforementioned 'St. Anger.'

The material on 'Fury Rising' finds you embracing more of your melodic impulses. Since you have so many different kinds of moods in your songs, do you notice if any particular one of them resonates more when you play live?

So far we've noticed that 'Fury Rising' seems to be a major energy song, and we've been playing it for well over a year. Our first single, 'Crimson Sand,' was debuted the other night, and it felt great to play live. It was probably heavier live and the feedback was great. The song seemed to stick in people's heads, and that's all we can hope for. I think a band favorite is playing 'Last Redemption' because it's just a beast of a song! It has all the elements of a killer heavy track from solid crunching rhythms, to pounding double bass and shredding solos. It also has a chorus with harmonized vocals and it all leads into a drum solo outro when we play it out live.

Some of the songs on the new record could actually fit on Active Rock radio alongside bands like Staind and Shinedown. Would you agree with that assessment?

Absolutely. We are not a metal band or a rock band. We are a hard rock/metal band with material that ranges from acoustic, to ballad, to heavy rock to thrashy type metal. That's why we need an entire album to express the true essence of the band and also why our albums are worth picking up. We feel songs like 'Crimson Sand,' 'Fury Rising' and 'The Fear,' would fit well on Active Rock radio much in the way a new Godsmack or Disturbed single would. They are heavy and they rock, but they are still enjoyable to the average and niche listener. The key is having good vocals with lyrics that people can understand and relate to. We also feel we would fit the bill with those bands as well. I've seen both Staind and Shinedown live and they rock pretty hard. I also feel the same about Nickelback. They have songs on all types of radio, but live they are straight up heavy.

If a major label approached the band, would you be hesitant to sign on?

Well we'd have to be because we have a great relationship with Rob and Tim at Mortal Music, as well as a good deal together. It's nice to still own our music, so that would be a big factor in considering going with a major. I always approach business with the attitude that it can't hurt to explore all options, but it would have to make sense to us as a band and our business partners in Tim and Rob.

Would you ever be open to working with an outside songwriter like Aerosmith, Testament and Ozzy Osbourne have in the past?

It's hard to say that we'd be opposed to any idea as far as writing and recording. We love what Sevendust did with Myles and Mark from Alter Bridge on their last album 'Hope and Sorrow.' I wouldn't be surprised if one day we record something with a singer/songwriter who plays piano. If we had a dream collaboration it would probably be working with James from Metallica and Jerry from Alice in Chains.

Early on, Metallica was a huge inspiration for the band. How do you feel about the direction they've taken in the last decade or so?

Early on, Metallica was a huge inspiration and I think that foundation will always be there, but it wasn't just early Metallica that set that foundation, there many others bands as well. When we got into the band, we started with the 'Load' and 'Reload' albums and went backwards, so we're influenced by the entire band's catalog. Overall, I think we all liked 'St. Anger' even though it caused a huge backlash within the metal community. But we all liked 'Death Magnetic' more, and honestly, we love playing the songs on that record. The band probably knows how to play half the album and those songs give me a great drum workout. We just played 'Cyanide' the other night at a big show, and it went over great.

We have a huge amount of respect for Metallica and the direction they have taken has worked because they look more energized when they play live and happier than I've ever seen them. Their recent DVDs are full of energy, and for them to bring it so hard while in their late 40s, is inspiring. What else needs to be said? Metallica still owns!