Year 5, Day 22: Metallica’s “Black” Album

Year 5, Day 22: Metallica – Metallica

1991

Track List

  1. Enter Sandman
  2. Sad but True
  3. Holier Than Thou
  4. The Unforgiven
  5. Wherever I May Roam
  6. Don’t Tread On Me
  7. Through the Never
  8. Nothing Else Matters
  9. Of Wolf and Man
  10. The God That Failed
  11. My Friend of Misery
  12. The Struggle Within

About the Album

Metallica or more commonly referred to as The Black Album, is the self-titled fifth album from heavy metal band, Metallica. The album was recorded from October 6th 1990 to June 16th 1991 and released August 12th 1991 through Elektra Records. The album peaked at number on several charts around the world and on the Billboard 200. The album is certified 16x platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. It’s the band’s most successful album to date.

Thoughts on the Album

Metallica, the self-titled fifth album from Metallica is considered to be the band’s most commercially successful album, but most controversial among their fans. Why would it be considered to be controversial by the band’s fans? Probably because the album marks a shift in sound from and style from previous albums. Gone were the blistering riffs and thrashing drums and entering a more mature and “radio-friendly” sound. The band also won their first GRAMMY Award with this album.

The album opens with the eerie rocker, Enter Sandman. Starting off with some clean and eerie guitar riffs that are accompanied by wah-wah effect throughout. The song picks up with thumping and powerful drums. The song is so much different from their previous work, and recognizable from the very first listen. The outcome of the song is an interesting and impressive one where the only semblance to previous work is a blistering and electrifying guitar solo. Completing the eerie theme is a vocal bridge that has frontman James Hetfield praying with a child. But it’s the rhythm guitar that powers and carries the song until the very end.

The Unforgiven, opens with something rare for the band: an acoustic opening. The acoustic opening gives away to a power metal ballad. Up until the verse, this soft opening plays and gives way to power and distortion. You can really feel the angst, distress, and anger in Hetfield’s lyrics and vocals. Wherever I May Roam is an interesting track. It has an atmosphere about it. The sitar effect on the guitar gives it an interest sound that gives way to distortion. The drums accompany the guitar and power the song excellently. The Unforgiven and Wherever I May Roam are an excellent mid-album pairing that helps keep the album from getting bogged down.

The real star and gem of the album is the powerful Nothing Else Matters. The lyrical emotion and the guitar melody are great and provide an edge to the song. The drums are powerful and simple and work with the bass to keep the rhythm moving. The solo at the end of the solo really provides some great emotion and helps take the track out on an emotional high note.

Conclusion

It’s obvious to see why this album has been so successful. It has easy accessability for those getting into metal, but manages to keep it’s heavy edge. It marks an maturation for the band: gone are the thunderous and blistering lightning-paced riffs, in are heavy and and powerful power chords. While the album does get repetitive at times, and does drag along at times, there is so much variation that those negatives don’t detract from the positives. It’s easy to see why the band’s popularity exploded with this album. The album is one of the best, if not the best of the 1990s.

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