Dubbing The Unforgiven: 20 Years Of Metallica's "Black Album"
Twenty years ago, Metallica's self-titled album entered the No. 1 slot on the Billboard 200, where it would stay for four weeks. The band's most successful album, it has sold 22 million copies worldwide to date, and kicked in the door for heavy metal into the mainstream, sans glitter and teased hair.
Lars Ulrich, Y U NO SMILE IN PRESS STILL?
As the follow-up to 1988's ...And Justice For All, the "Black Album" would need to out-rock, out-perform, and outdo everything that came before. This was the point in Metallica's career where they would either stay a beloved metal band, or take the next rung on the ladder as the world's most beloved metal band. We're still talking about it now, so the band and producer Bob Rock must have done something right.
At 12 tracks, the album was the band's longest studio album. Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets were eight cuts long, Justice was nine, and Kill 'Em All was a bloody and gruesome ten. But what set aside this album was the concise and methodical nature of it. It was scarily efficient, catchy and accessible, without being namby-pamby or soft. Unless you hold "Nothing Else Matters" against them, and stalwart metalheads very well may.
Even still, as fun and gnarly as it was, many old-school thrash fans got off the bus at this point, never to return. But we know some of you still jam it alone. And yeah, we cringe at the thought of a teenybopper in 1991 buying the new Paula Abdul and the Black Album on the same record store visit, but a good percentage of those kids probably turned to the great and grand dark side soon after because of it.
This fall the band releases Lulu, the first fruits of their project with Lou Reed. Loutallica promises to be weird and wild, though we wish the band would come out with a proper follow-up to 2008's Death Magnetic already.
Rocks Off's first exposure to "The Black Album" was the "Enter Sandman" video on MTV one afternoon during the summer before third grade. At the age when we had just left the world of nightmares and boogiemen, it was enticing and scary. That fall, Metallica and Nirvana were all the 'bangers at C.J. Harris Elementary cared about.
Lately the album has been on our gym iPod setlist, and if you see a guy on one of the cardio stations pumping his legs in time to "Sad But True" and playing air drums, come say hello. Don't mind the sweat.
We did some digging on our own and asked a few friends on Twitter and Facebook for some facts about "The Black Album," on this 20th anniversary of the metal going above ground.