Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Metallica was the band Metallica's fifth album, released August 12 1991 through Elektra Records. It is also called The Black Album because of its largely black and featureless cover (only the band's logo and a coiled snake are barely visible). The album was their first commercial success.
The Black Album was a controversial album amongst fans of the band. While the album and the band were critically and commercially praised, many fans expressed disappointment and outrage at the new direction taken by Metallica; gone, for the most part were the searing riffs, intense speeds and lyrical themes of such the first four albums - the Black Album presented a more mature, radio-friendly, commercially accessible Metallica, evidenced by the ballad "Nothing Else Matters", a love song. Considering that, in their early days, the band vowed never to make a ballad (which they did), and never to release a video (following the success of "One," the breakaway single from their ...And Justice For All album, five singles were released from the Black Album - "Enter Sandman", "Nothing Else Matters", "Sad But True", "Wherever I May Roam" and "The Unforgiven"), many longtime fans viewed this as a betrayal by the band that used the lyric "Bleeding on your knees, conformity/Or dying on your feet for honesty" (from the song "Damage, Inc." on 1986's Master of Puppets) as an anthem.
The Black Album stands as a dividing point for many Metallica fans, and fans of heavy metal in general. Its supporters claim that it is still a "heavy" album, with such songs as "Enter Sandman", "Sad But True", "Of Wolf And Man" and "Holier Than Thou" proving that Metallica still had what it took to remain true to the genre's very strict limitations on what is "metal" and what is not. Just because the songs received popularity, they claimed, did not automatically mean they were sub-standard songs (prior to the Black Album, heavy metal was almost religiously devoted to remaining underground). Detractors pointed at the ballads "Nothing Else Matters" and "The Unforgiven" as signs that Metallica were more interested in commercial gain, than they were catering exclusively to their hitherto underground fanbase. To further their argument, they pointed at the intense radio and MTV coverage the Black Album received; and that even though "Enter Sandman" and "Sad But True" were "heavy", they were catchy enough to garner radio play and instant popularity. Also, while the lyrics of Metallica's first four albums dealt with the standard topics in heavy metal (death, nuclear warfare, war in general, political and governmental corruption, insanity, etc), the lyrics of the Black Album (written primarily by James Hetfield) were much more personal and introspective in nature (a trait that would be seen on every subsequent Metallica album) - "The God That Failed" dealt with his mother's death from cancer and her Christian Science beliefs holding her back from seeking treatment; "Nothing Else Matters", about the connection he felt with his soulmate while out on the road; and "Wherever I May Roam", an ode to life on the road. Fans of the album claim that such topics, while not "default" heavy metal material, were a welcome and necessary change from the lyrical themes and topics from their past albums.
Produced by Bob Rock (who had also worked with Bon Jovi, Mötley Crüe and Aerosmith, another criticism of the step Metallica had taken), the Black Album's sound was a marked difference from the shoddy production of the previous album, 1988's ...And Justice For All. Rock so altered the band's working schedule and routine that they swore never to work with him again. The animosity and tension between band and producer was documented in the DVDs A Year And A Half In The Life of Metallica and Classic Albums: The Black Album. Both explore and document the intense and merciless recording process that resulted in the Black Album.
Despite the initial friction between Metallica and Bob Rock, Rock has been at the controls for every release the band has made since 1991. Following Jason Newsted's departure in 2000/2001, Rock was even asked to play bass.
Metallica won their first ever Grammy Award for the Black Album. Many felt the band should have won a Grammy for their ...And Justice for All album - the band was nominated in the "Best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal" category, but lost to Jethro Tull. When accepting the Grammy for the Black Album, drummer Lars Ulrich made it a point to thank Jethro Tull for not putting out an album that year.
The world tour for the Black Album, called the Nowhere Else To Roam tour, saw Metallica on the road for the next three years. The tour was in part documented on the A Year And A Half In The Life Of Metallica DVD, as well as the 3 CD, 2 DVD boxset Live Shit: Binge & Purge.
- "Enter Sandman" (Hammett, Hetfield, Ulrich) - 5:29
- "Sad but True " (Hetfield, Ulrich) - 5:24
- "Holier Than Thou" (Hetfield, Ulrich) - 3:47
- "The Unforgiven" (Hammett, Hetfield, Ulrich) - 6:26
- "Wherever I May Roam " (Hetfield, Ulrich) - 6:42
- "Don't Tread on Me" (Hetfield, Ulrich) - 3:59
- "Through the Never " (Hammett, Hetfield, Ulrich) - 4:01
- "Nothing Else Matters" (Hetfield, Ulrich) - 6:29
- "Of Wolf and Man" (Hammett, Hetfield, Ulrich) - 4:16
- "The God That Failed" (Hetfield, Ulrich) - 5:05
- "My Friend of Misery" (Hammett, Hetfield, Ulrich) - 6:47
- "The Struggle Within" (Hetfield, Ulrich) - 3:51
1991 Metallica The Billboard 200 No. 1 1991 Enter Sandman The Billboard Hot 100 No. 16 1991 Enter Sandman Mainstream Rock Tracks No. 10 1991 Don't Tread On Me Mainstream Rock Tracks No. 21 1992 Nothing Else Matters The Billboard Hot 100 No. 34 1992 Sad But True The Billboard Hot 100 No. 98 1992 The Unforgiven The Billboard Hot 100 No. 35 1992 Wherever I May Roam The Billboard Hot 100 No. 82 1992 Nothing Else Matters Mainstream Rock Tracks No. 11 1992 The Unforgiven Mainstream Rock Tracks No. 10 1992 Wherever I May Roam Mainstream Rock Tracks No. 25 1993 Sad But True Mainstream Rock Tracks No. 15
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