This is one intense album. Yes, it’s been played to death (so was “Stairway to Heaven,” does that make Led Zeppelin a sellout? What about “Start Me Up?” “Free Fallin’?”), but does that make Metallica a sellout? No it doesn’t. The word “sellout” just doesn’t apply to Metallica.The songs were not like their usual thrash-style, nor was the sound, or the lyrics, or the song structure, or the production. Does that make this a bad album full of bad songs? No. Does the album lack musicality? No. Does it lack the attitude that metal projects constantly? No.People forget that this album houses one of THE most heavy songs ever written – Sad But True. Some hardcore losers might come out and say, “What about Morbid Angel’s ‘Nothing is Not?’ Or Six Feet Under’s ‘Blood of the Insane?’ or Samael’s ‘Shining Kingdom?’ Huh? Huh? Huh?” And then call Metallica p@$$y sellouts. I don’t think so. Yes bands like Slayer, Samael, Impaled Nazarene, Deicide (Children of the Underworld), Cannibal Corpse, Morbid Angel (James Murphy-era) might write songs that are far and away heavier than a lot of Metallica’s songs, but you can’t deny that “Sad But True” is a benchmark of metal heaviness and raises some serious hairs on the back of your brain. Keep in mind the other thing about Metallica that this album demonstrates, no matter how crappy the music gets, no one can match their power.Then there are those that howl about “Nothing Else Matters.” Once again, we hear moaning about how it was popular, teenie girls liked it, it’s not heavy, it’s not metal, it’s not real, it’s a sellout song, it’s stupid, it’s not Slayer, blah blah blah. Does this mean it’s a bad song? No.Some people talk about this album being the “beginning of the end of Metallica.” The argument is that, again, it’s not metal. Most of those people are metal heads who have never heard of another genre, and are exactly the close-minded, unintelligent saps that they claim they are because of their “different” musical tastes (It doesn’t work that way. A lot of people listen to metal, death, black, grindcore, thrash, etc., and it doesn’t make you unique just because you listen to metal.) The thing is, “Nothing Else Matters” was unlike any other metal song we had heard, and this close-mindedness was not the kind of audience the song needed, even though it found an audience elsewhere. What happens is that those people miss out on a great song and a great album. That’s essentially the problem; it’s not the band, it’s the ears listening to it.Imagine if this album had been released by a brand new band; they would be instant metal gods. But no, Metallica “betrayed” us. No they didn’t. They made their music. If you don’t like it, go back to Cannibal Corpse, but don’t open your mouth and claim to know good music because all you listen to is a “unique” style of music called metal.
Japanese only SHM pressing. The SHM-CD [Super High Material CD] format features enhanced audio quality through the use of a special polycarbonate plastic. Using a process developed by JVC and Universal Music Japan discovered through the joint companies’ research into LCD display manufacturing SHM-CDs feature improved transparency on the data side of the disc allowing for more accurate reading of CD data by the CD player laser head. SHM-CD format CDs are fully compatible with standard CD players. Universal. 2009.Called ”the Black Album” by many (due to its monochrome cover), Metallica marks the group’s entrance into the mainstream, with shorter songs, simpler song structures, and slower tempos overall. That said, this is an excellent album, featuring some of the best songwriting Metallica has ever done. ”Enter Sandman,” ”Wherever I May Roam,” and ”God That Failed,” despite being slower and more groove-oriented than the band’s earlier work, feature the same heavy riffs and heavier rhythms that have always been a feature of Metallica’s music. The band goes introspective with ”Unforgiven,” and proves that they can write a ballad with ”Nothing Else Matters,” which succeeds better than one might expect. Overall, this is a high-energy album despite its laid-back approach, and is in many ways superior to the previous . . . And Justice for All, which was weakened by overly complicated song structures and mediocre production. – Genevieve Williams
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Regardless of their commercial intent, Metallica had to make The Black Album. Their previous album “And Justice For All” had many brilliant moments, but it also edged toward excess. It’s important to keep in mind that many of Metallica’s influences wrote punchy 3-4 minute songs with a killer riff and solo. And their Garage Revisted album demonstrated their love to do something like that. But, they hadn’t really done that since their early days, and they had gotten so far away from that by the time of “And Justice For All.” As a result, The Black Album was an artistic, as well as commercial, commitment. Keep it simple; keep it memorable; keep it real. No doubt, the craft paid off; Metallica’s singles (Enter Sandman, Wherever I May Roam, Sad But True, Nothing Else Matters, Unforgiven) have become hard rock classics. Each song has killer hooks; they groove even, and the latter ballad is as powerful and moving as any song they’ve ever done. Sure, Bob Rock’s production is a bit too smooth, but listen to the demos and realize that The Black Album is still thrash. Dismiss its difficult, then, consider that similar efforts by thrash outfits like Megadeth, Testament, and Anthrax were much, much less successful. If there’s any substantial flaw to The Black Album, it’s that it reveals what true metal aficionados already know — Metallica is an average thrash band with world-class compositions, The Beatles of the long-form composition. When you compare The Black Album with Pantera’s “Vulgar Display Of Power.” Where The Black Album waters down thrash’s edge (relentlessly midtempo, simpler rhythms, production), “Vulgar Display of Power” distills it, retaining the creativity, craft, yet making it even more vicious. And compare it to Metallica’s older work, and you miss out on the richness, dynamics and depth. As a whole, though, The Black Album is a great kick-a** album. As close to the perfect mainstream heavy metal album anybody has ever gotten to. It also suggested that if Metallica could combine The Black Album’s discipline with their 80s richness, their best work would lay in the future. Boy were we wrong . . .
It seems that many Metallica “fans” seem to enjoy putting this album down, for some reason. They claim that, with this album, Metallica lost their edge and sold out. Listening to this album, I’m wondering if we heard the same one. This album may not be quite as epic or technical as previous releases, but it’s every bit as thrashy, heavy, and good. This album was my introduction to Metallica a few years back, and I’ve never stopped loving it. The songs are full of crunch and vitriol, and the two ballads (“Unforgiven”, “Nothing Else Matters”) are very emotional and melodic. There are still a lot of great solos, and Lars still dishes out some pretty impressive drumwork (especially on “The Struggle Within”). The production quality is excellent (probably the best of all their albums), so every instrument is distinct and hard-hitting. There are no bad songs, but if you want to hear a great one, check out “The Unforgiven”. This is one of the best ballads ever, with very emotional lyrics and a great vocal performance from James Hetfield. If you love heavy metal and do not love this album, there is probably something wrong with you. I rank this album third, behind “Ride the Lightning” and “Master of Puppets”, and one of my top 20 favorite albums. It’s better than “And Justice for All” mainly because of the production quality, and better than “Kill Em All” because that album is too repetitive and rough around the edges (but still very good, mind you), and well, do I even need to explain why it’s better than “Load” and “Reload”? The simple fact of the matter is that Metallica was still a great band at this time, and did not sell out with this album. This album was much heavier and better than anything else that was popular at the time (except for Pantera’s “Cowboys from Hell”). “Load” and “Reload” were the ones where the music changed for the worse, but even those albums weren’t so bad. If Metallica ever did sell out, it wasn’t until the awful “I Disappear”. If they ever get another bass player, and Hetfield ever gets out of rehab, let’s hope they stop doing that kind of stuff and go back to the basics. Megadeth and Iron Maiden already made incredible returns to form with “The World Needs a Hero” and “Brave New World”, if Metallica does another album like this, then metal is officially back. Otherwise, they may as well just call it quits. Anyway, buy this album, it is one of the best.
I was 16 when this album released, and have great memories of waiting for it to hit the shelves. The anticipation felt throughout the states was not surprising, for this album came at perhaps the height of this bands glory. With the exception of the single “One” from “…and Justice for All”, up to this point Metallica had become a household name and had sold millions of albums without any radio play or any exposure on MTV. The album had a similar take with fans as did Van Halen’s release of “1984″. What was the self titled album was quickly becoming known as “The Black Album” and despite some fans having a hard time adjusting to the change of pace in with the direction the music seemed to be going, it was still an album that was received with praise and accolades by most of the band’s fans. The Black Album became a classic nearly overnight, and still today holds its power among the top metal albums of all time.
The Black Album starts out with the powerful single that first blared over the airwaves to fans back in 1991. Nostalgic to think of a time when one listened to a song over the radio, then went down to the store to buy the CD as opposed to getting everything “online” instantly! Enter Sandman was the song and its opening riff builds up to a steady riot of continual onslaught as Hetfield blares a dark, haunting tune centered around the “Sandman”. Kirk’s guitar work on this is marvelous as is the crashing thunder of drums from Lars Ulrich. “Sad but true” has a choppy, repetitive riff that is addictive to the ears. “Holier than Thou” speeds things up with a fevered frenzy of guitar and drums. The vocals are more in the forefront of this album, along with the in your face lyrics.
Track four is “Unforgiven” and is a slow, melodic song that ever bit as powerful as the ones that came before it. In the days of mushy high pitched “power ballads” or “love ballads” as they are sometimes called, a song like this was welcome, and could still blow the doors off the car. “Wherever I may roam” is another thundering monster that has great bass in it from Jason Newsted, who had replaced the original bass player Cliff Burton a few years earlier. Poetic in lyrics, this song invokes some spooky guitar sounds throughout its course. “Don’t tread on me” was actually a song dedicated to the troops at the time who were currently serving in Desert Storm. Another heavy, invigorating song that I never tire to listen to. “Through the never” is still somewhat thrash, although by now fans realize that despite being heavy and dark themed, this album does not have so much of the visual doom that past albums brought to the table.
“Nothing Else Matters” is another slow song, with beautiful guitar sounds throughout. It quickly downtrodden into a feeling of despair before rising up again to begin the chorus. This is not a song you hear, it is a song you FEEL. Perhaps the most “elegant” song from a metal band. I may get hit with rotten fruit on that, but that is okay. “Of Wolf and Man” has some great riffs and though isn’t one of the stronger songs on the album, still belongs here. “The God that failed” is epic in its beginning intro and it breaks into some crashing drums that are again encompassed by the superb guitar playing by singer James Hetfield and Kirk Hammet. The song has great changeups and has addicting beats to it that never let up.
The album rounds out with a couple more powerful tracks that differ in tempo but not in taste. “My friend of Misery” has a classic Metallica feel to it in the beginning and launches into an alerting chorus that exclaims, “you just stood there screaming/fearing no one was listening to you!” The last song is “The struggle within” and starts out with an almost civil war type drum roll that quickly takes off into a bevy of flurried guitars. “Struggle” is fast paced and furious, which is a perfect way to end the album with.
The Black Album will forever be argued among fans. Was it the album that jumped the fence into the mainstream, or was it the one that clung to the fence as it was being pulled over, trying to stay on the side it came from one more day? This fan would prefer to think that it was the one that stood above both sides, on its own in all its own well deserved glory, receiving its props for what had come before, and not necessarily being a sign of what things were to come. There is an old saying I would apply to this album, and all who seem to despise it: “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift.” Although it is perceived by many as a time of change, The Black Album was still Metallica to most of us, and it wouldn’t be until the release of the ever-strange “Load” album that fans would learn to appreciate Metallica’s “Metallica” all the more. A top-notch album that today has proven to stand the test of time, trends and MTV talk, by a band that was at the time of its release, at the height of their glory.
Here we have Metallica’s breakthrough album, the Black album. This is what put Metallica into the mainstream, and it is indeed a masterpeice. Every song on this on is a classic. The talent is all there. The production is crystal clear. Everything about this album is epic. A lot of people complain that this is all a little too mainstream, but I disagree. I believe the boys to be in top performance, just because it’s a little more accessible, doesn’t mean that the talent is gone. Kirk plays some of his greatest solos on this album. I believe that everyone is in top form. Jason Newsted also gets a chance to prove himself on this one. As a bassist, I believe his basslines on the slower songs to showcase his talent the most. He packs a lot of emotion, especially in Nothing Else Matters. Overall, this is just a fun and enjoyable cd with talented musicians and songwriting. Highly recommended!