Metallica (commonly known as The Black Album) is the eponymous fifth studio album by American heavy metal band Metallica. Released on August 12, 1991 by Elektra Records, it received widespread critical acclaim and became the band’s best-selling album. Metallica produced five singles that are considered to be among the band’s best-known songs, which include “Enter Sandman,” “The Unforgiven,” “Nothing Else Matters,” “Wherever I May Roam,” and “Sad but True.” “Don’t Tread on Me” was also issued to rock radio shortly after the album’s release, but the song did not receive a commercial single release. The album marked a change in the band’s sound from the thrash metal style of the previous four albums to a slower one. Metallica promoted the album with a series of tours. In 2003, the album was ranked number 252 on Rolling Stone‘s 500 greatest albums of all time.
The recording of Metallica was troubled, as the band frequently entered conflicts with Bob Rock, the band’s new producer, during production. The album debuted at number one in ten countries and spent four consecutive weeks at the top of the Billboard 200, making it Metallica’s first album to top album charts. By February 2016, the album spent 363 weeks on the Billboard album chart, making it one of the ten longest running discs of all time. Metallica is one of the best-selling albums worldwide, and the best-selling album in the United States since Nielsen SoundScan tracking began. The album was certified 16× platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in 2012, and has sold over sixteen million copies in the United States, the first album in the SoundScan era to do so. Metallica played the album in its entirety during the 2012 European Black Album Tour.
Enter Sandman—-By the time this recording was released, Metallica had cemented their selves as a force in the Metal Community. You realize upon the first listen how much more polished the music is here….the band is a tight yet fractured force. James delivers a vocal that is so well produced…always present but never taking away from the music. The drums are smack in your face. This is a song that will never die….and it still plays as well today as it did upon it’s release.
Sad But True—-By this time in their career, Metallica had moved away from the harder edged Thrash that had made them champions of the Metal community. But….evolution is never a bad thing if it is aimed in the right direction such as songs like this. Although slower in pace, the power of the song is palatable. The melody line is incredible and the entire rhythm section drives the track onward. Hetfield delivers a vocal that is so clear and concise….you catch every word and you feel the song in your very core….that is what music is all about.
Holier Than Thou—-Coming back with a more uptempo and brutal track, the band truly shows versatility on this record. The original Thrash elements are all over this song….but the vocal remains strong and understandable to the listener. Lars and his drums are smack in your face…and the message of the song is very relevant to certain politicians right now….today. This is outstanding.
The Unforgiven—-Again, showing talent, versatility, insight and the ability to surprise the listener, this track is a slice of heaven. With a gentle guitar intro, the wall of sound is still thee as the tracks kicks in. again, Hetfield delivers a vocal that is understandable and poignant. This is a favorite of mine…the melodies on the chorus are incredible…the drums very strong but never overpowering. The song moves in and out of moods…keeping the listener entranced by the song. This is extraordinary.
Wherever I May Roam—-Moody and enthralling at the very onset, the song has a dark element that you can’t escape even as it opens up with a wider sound. The almost plodding sound does speed up as the song progresses but you are still left with that somewhat dark and morose feeling. Hetfield’s vocals are so strong on this record…so clear and concise…you can’t help but fall in love with this record. Way too long since I have listened to this.
Don’t Tread On Me—-A huge and powerful track that is again…very relevant in the day and age we live in. Music at times…can be literally timeless. The vocal is outstanding…the blast from the bass guitar and the drums really form the structure of the song. At times the rhythm guitar opens up…but for the most part…this is a deep and dark track.
Through The Never—-Crisper in sound right from the onset, the pace of the song is much faster and hearkens back to the earlier days of the band. Even the bass line seems less pronounced at the beginning. The voice is clear and the drums are incredible. The mood of the song fills me with an energy and vigor…it is an exciting track…full of sonic blasts and sharper guitars.
Nothing Else Matters—-Returning to a stripped down intro and melody filled guitar line, this song is beautiful at the intro…precise and exquisite. Hetfield surprises with a vocal that he actually sings rather than shouting or speaking his way through. A beautiful melody line never leaves the track even when it ramps up in sound. This is the band at it’s creative best. This is a track that will never become old to anyone who loves the band.
Of Wolf And Man—-Huge blasts of guitars and drums shock you as you try to recover from the mellow sounds of the previous track. but the recovery is rapid…this is a powerful track that makes me think of the older days of the band…where the blast of the guitars were sharp and quick. This is an overlooked track…..really a fantastic vocal…drum track and lyrical content.
The God That Failed—-A melody line that will refuse to leave your head, Hetfield again sings more than usual…but yells on occasion as well. The harmonies on this are nice….either band delivered or double tracks…not sure. But the mood and delivery of this track is incredible…you will think about it for a times.
My Friend Of Misery—-Moody and intricate once again, the beginning of the song is loaded with sounds from all directions. The deep tones put you right in the center of the song as the drums crash and the bass line lands in your forehead. James enters with his clear vocal and delivers line after line that is so relatable and sometimes too true. This is a fantastic overlooked track….should have been smack in the middle of the album rather than the end.
The Struggle Within—-Ending the release with a marching snare drum intro, the guitars come at you from a distance and then smack you in the face. Hetfield comes at you with a vocal that is fast and loaded with venom as he chastises you for the person that you are versus the person you want to be. This has been a remarkable revisit to an album not listened to often enough.
***** out of 5