- The Black Album
This is it!
It’s one of the biggest-selling albums of all time, Metallica’s self-titled disc (aka “The Black Album”) marked a major turning point for the band long before it was released on Aug. 12, 1991.
Metallica started generating riffs and melodies for “The Black Album” while they were on tour for …And Justice for All. Many of the songs were solidified in the summer of 1990 and on Aug. 13, Metallica recorded demos for “Enter Sandman,” “Nothing Else Matters” and “Wherever I May Roam.” The last demo the band recorded before entering the studio was “Sad But True.”
Since they felt well prepared, Metallica hoped recording the album would be a swift and enjoyable process. Neither was true, and during the sessions heated arguments with Rock erupted over the recording process, the sound of the songs and the quality of everything from the lyrics to the solos.
Metallica was also open to Rock’s idea to tune down to “D” instead of making “E” the lowest chord they used. The move provided extra punch to “Sad But True.”
But Hetfield wasn’t so thrilled when he was asked to tone down the lyrics to “Enter Sandman,” a song originally about crib death. Nor was he happy with the producer’s recommendation that he sit back and follow the drums instead of the other way around.
Metallica spent more than eight months recording and re-recording songs for “The Black Album.” They tracked most of the album at One on One Recording Studios in Los Angeles, but they also spent a week working at Little Mountain Sound Studios in Vancouver, British Columbia. Even after they were done recording all of their parts Metallica and Rock weren’t happy with the tone of the album. That only came together after three complete remixes that cost over $1 million.
“The goal from the start was to get this thing perfect,” Hammett said. “Even though we had our problems with Bob, we knew that he was the person who could get that done.”
In an age of dwindling metal popularity tracks like “Sad But True,” “Don’t Tread on Me” and “Of Wolf and Man” struck a mighty blow for the head bangers of the world, and songs such as “Enter Sandman,” “Nothing Else Matters” and “The Unforgiven” established Metallica with fans of more commercial rock radio. Even the phenomenon of grunge couldn’t quench the blaze Metallica created.
And through the dawning of nu-metal, black metal, metalcore and new American metal, “The Black Album” has prevailed and remained a favourite of both new and old metal fans and musicians.
To date, “The Black Album“has sold over 30 million copies worldwide. In 2014, it became the first record to sell over 16 million copies since SoundScan started charting record sales in 1991. In addition, the disc has spent the most weeks, 307, on the Billboard 200 chart during the SoundScan era.