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Old 04-23-2015, 09:22 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Talking Metallica's The Black Album

It’s 23 years, this week, since Metallica’s most popular album, Metallica (commonly called The Black Album – in contrast to The Beatles’ The Beatles commonly known as The White Album) was released. In the near quarter of a century since its release, the album has sold in excess of 30,000,000 copies worldwide and is the biggest selling album of the SoundScan era.

Metallica are one of the biggest metal bands of all time – arguably the biggest ever. They’ve sold millions of records, they have fans all over the globe, they’ve played on every inhabited continent and also Antarctica, they’ve sold out massive world tours, they’ve amassed huge fortunes and they’ve been together for more than 30 years. They are living the dream that many a metal-head (and others besides) have dreamed for years.

The album made inroads into the public psyche and allowed metal and hard rock a momentary glimpse at the big time. Granted, there have never been many metal and hard rock bands who can do extensive world tours of arenas, but it allowed Metallica to move from small, sweaty clubs and venues and move into these arenas and stadia that very few bands of their type have ever been able to fill on a consistent basis.

Forming in 1981, the band solidified themselves as one of the ‘Big Four’ of thrash metal (alongside Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax) in San Francisco, California and released Kill ‘Em All, Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets in 1983, ’84 and ’86 respectively before losing original bassist, Cliff Burton in a coach crash on a Scandinavian tour. In 1988, they carried on without him and released …And Justice For All with new bassist, Jason Newsted. Having found their feet again, James Hetfield (vocals and guitars) and Lars Ulrich (drums and all-round bell-end) set about writing the follow-up. It turned out to be Metallica and boy, what an impact it had on the world.

As far as sound goes, it was a softer effort when compared to the relentless thrash of the band’s first four records. It featured slightly softer vocals, slowed tempos and a much more melodic approach to sound (not that this wasn’t a feature on previous records). “Sad But True” exhibits well these slowed down tempos. At a measly 93 beats per minute, it’s the slow, fat guy to such songs as Kill ‘Em All‘s “Whiplash”‘s slim athlete. “Whiplash” plays at around 160 bpm and Ride the Lightning‘s “Fight Fire at Fire” which peaks at around 180bpm, but “Sad But True” is all the more heavy for this slowed tempo as layers of guitar pack an immense punch.

“Nothing Else Matters”, arguably Metallica’s best known and most widely used song, is the highlight of the entire record. It does this by being the least ‘Metallica-ish’ song in their back-catalogue to this point. It’s a soft ballad that sings of “trust I seek / and I find in you” and “couldn’t be much more from the heart” and has soft guitars throughout. The peak moment of the song comes with an impactful guitar solo from James Hetfield (who plays lead on this song instead of the usual lead guitarist, Kirk Hammett). It’s full of emotion, it’s not your typical ‘shredding’ metal solo, it’s meaningful, you can hear every note clearly and it’s expertly done by one of the most under-rated guitarists in music.

If you simply listen to the music present on Metallica, you’ll understand why it’s had such an impact on the rock and metal world. It has a diverse range of sounds, influences and songs. There’s Eastern sounds on “Wherever I May Roam”, there’s the mirror image of a ballad in “The Unforgiven” (where the chorus is soft and the verse is hard), there’s supernatural, heart-felt, horror, introspective, religious and literary influences in the lyrics and there’s a range of styles, tempos and riffs a-plenty.

My only complaint with Metallica (coming from a long-time listener) is that it has a large amount of THE guitar solo Kirk Hammett has written and applies to pretty much all of the band’s songs. Yes, there’s the odd solo that doesn’t feature the heavy WAH-WAH of his wah pedal or feature the squeal and typical movement up and down the fret-board that nearly all Metallica solos have but it’s featured heavily (as it is on all Metallica records) on nearly all of the songs here on The Black Album.

The main thing that Metallica has done though, is given many a listener a window into the world of metal. It’s not too heavy, it’s got some pop factor to it and it has influenced so much in the world of music since its release in 1991. It’s also a gateway to the death metal of Cannibal Corpse, the speed metal of DragonForce, the melodic death metal of Children of Bodom or the black metal of Dimmu Borgin. Metallica, then, has become more than just an album. It has become something more.

Album Rating

9.0
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Old 04-23-2015, 09:51 AM   #2 (permalink)
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“Nothing Else Matters” is the highlight of the entire record.
I stopped reading here.

You write in a way that's easy and enjoyable to read though, so props to you.
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Old 04-24-2015, 10:52 AM   #3 (permalink)
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It was a good album but also one of the biggest sell outs ever. They sure did suck up a lot of the yuppie dollars though.
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Old 04-24-2015, 10:59 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Itah wasah theah startah ofah thatah obnoxiousah vocalah styleah andah besidesah itah beingah aah boringah albumah that'sah whyah Iah hateah itah.
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Old 04-24-2015, 11:04 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Itah wasah theah startah ofah thatah obnoxiousah vocalah styleah andah besidesah itah beingah aah boringah albumah that'sah whyah Iah hateah itah.
yep.
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Old 04-24-2015, 08:52 PM   #6 (permalink)
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It was a good album but also one of the biggest sell outs ever. They sure did suck up a lot of the yuppie dollars though.
Just like Slash.
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Old 04-29-2015, 03:55 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by themezzanine View Post
My only complaint with Metallica (coming from a long-time listener) is that it has a large amount of THE guitar solo Kirk Hammett has written and applies to pretty much all of the band’s songs. Yes, there’s the odd solo that doesn’t feature the heavy WAH-WAH of his wah pedal or feature the squeal and typical movement up and down the fret-board that nearly all Metallica solos have but it’s featured heavily (as it is on all Metallica records) on nearly all of the songs here on The Black Album.
I thought it was a decent review from the casual Metallica fan (granted, one who did a lot of research) until here, where I strongly disagree.

Kirk Hammett does not play the same solo over again, I can hear distinct and notable differences between most of them. I admit there are similarities between a few, but I find it presumptuous to criticize Hammett and Metallica on a whole by something not true. It is partially due to Hammett's kick-ass solos that Metallica is who they are.
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Old 04-30-2015, 12:03 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Does anyone remember that just prior to its release they actually did a small concert venue "tour" where people paid for tickets and filled up arenas just to hear the record played over a PA system? No band members present.

The Metallica hype was that big back then.
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Old 04-30-2015, 01:15 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Does anyone remember that just prior to its release they actually did a small concert venue "tour" where people paid for tickets and filled up arenas just to hear the record played over a PA system? No band members present.

The Metallica hype was that big back then.
Reminds me of Wu Tang and their 'secret album'.
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Old 05-04-2015, 02:43 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Good Album!

its a decent album. Not all of their material can be fast. You have to stop and catch your breath every once in a while.
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