Album of the Week: Metallica – Metallica (1991)

Metallica (aka “The Black Album”) was released by the metal giants, Metallica, on August 12, 1991 by Elektra Records. It was the band’s fifth studio album – Kill ‘Em All (’83), Ride the Lightning (’84), Master of Puppets (’86), and …And Justice for All (’88) – and the second in the series for Elektra Records (Justice). Of course James Hetfield mans the helm as singer and guitarist, Kirk Hammett plays lead guitar, Lars Ulrich is on drums, and the wildman Jason Newsted plays bass (he started with the band after the death of Cliff Burton, during the Master of Puppets tours). 

Metallica is fundamentally far removed from everything that came before it. The band, known for its speed and mastery of the Thrash Metal genre, began to separate from that era on Justice; but they came totally apart from it for this record. The incredible riff writings of Hetfield are definitely still here, and thrash has been replaced by bone crushing heavy metal of the highest order. The epics of the previous albums, with the multiple, twisting, layered riffs and extended length songs are replaced by quickly-to-the-point power chords and hooks. I think the most interesting development is (comparatively speaking) how slow the songs are on this record! I mean, they are certainly heavy, but far slower than the thrash of old. Though the band says it was never a goal for this album, the new direction was a HUGE commercial success. In my opinion, this record serves as a clear dividing line, that stands on its own, between the “old” Metallica and the “new.” 

Metallica is the band’s best-selling record. It debuted at #1 in ten countries, and spent four consecutive weeks at #1 on Billboards Top 200. The record is one of the best-selling albums worldwide, and one of the best selling in the United States. In December 2019, Metallica is the fourth album in American history to spend longer than 550 weeks on the Billboard Top 200. It is certified 16× Platinum by RIAA as of 2012, and has sold over 16 million copies in the US to date. 

Favorite songs: Sad But True (will bash your brains in) ; Don’t Tread on Me (is a bop) ; Enter Sandman ; My Friend of Misery

Rating: 10/10!! 

Stay Metal,

THE SAW