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Album Review: "Metallica the Black Album" That Made Metallica the Most Famous American Metal Band

Updated on April 15, 2020
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Ara is a Journalism graduate from California State University Northridge who is looking to always explore his writing opportunities.

Metallica "The black album" really catapulted Metallica to super star status

"Metallica the black album" as it is known by is the one album that really made them the most famous American metal band. This album is one of the most underrated works in the band’s career. I say this because so many people always expected the band to continue being a thrash metal band and play the fast, staccato style riffs that we heard through the 1980’s. But bands have to grow, evolve, and mature. And Metallica has done just that. You can hear the bass lines by Jason Newsted if you listen closely enough. The bass guitar in the band’s previous album And Justice for All was not audible so this is somewhat of a relief for many fans “Metallica” is the album that marked the band’s entry into a more mainstream musical territory and while they have done a great job, Metallica isn’t the best band in the world at large and even such a view is very subjective. For the band’s first ever mainstream album, “Metallica” is very well musically crafted and you will see why as we analyze and review an album that is almost 30 years old.

Enter Sandman, Sad But True, and Holier Than Thou really set the tone for the album

Metallica has so many famous hit songs in this album starting with Enter Sandman, a song that I would listen to so often through the last part of 1993 into 1994. Kirk Hammett uses the wah pedal in this song and James Hetfield does a narration in the middle of the song. He then utters the words “hush little baby don’t say a word. And never mind that noise you heard.” If you take the hand of the mysterious figure, you will be sent off to Never Neverland so be careful where you tread. This album is still very much a metal album but the riffs are slower and there is much more of a mainstream feel to the album. Those of you that cannot appreciate or accept this masterpiece of an album by the United States’ best metal band, then I don’ know what else to say. You probably just have a different musical taste or Metallica just doesn’t appeal to you. Holier Than Thou is a song that criticizes those people that are religious fanatics such as those extreme right wing evangelicals that are eager to prove they are right and everyone else is wrong. Arrogance and ignorance are two qualities that these kinds of people do have. Too many people fall into the trap of judging others when they don't know much about themselves. The band is trying to raise awareness about the fact that the rise of religion in the United States has actually made certain situations worse. There is a good bass part in this song.

The song called "Don't Tread on Me"

Don't Tread on Me is one of the most influential songs in this album

Then comes the march of The Unforgiven series of songs that we would see through the band’s career. Wherever I May Roam is pretty much about a person that is wanderer that has no home. He adapts to the conditions wherever he happens to travel to. Don’t Tread On Me is a song that is trying to promote American political values and makes reference to Patrick Henry’s famous phrase “give me liberty or give me death.” Sometimes to get to a stage of more peace, certain wars need to be fought such as The American Revolution. The song has a great blues style solo that features Hammett’s skill and technique. The guitar playing after the solo is superb! James Hetfield has said many times that the band doesn’t intend to be political but instead their focus is always on playing and creating music that the world will enjoy. Nonetheless, Don’t Tread on Me definitely has a political message to it. I interpret the song as trying to say that the government shouldn't step on the rights of people to freely express their dissent with policies that they think are unjust. Especially in 2018, this song is a great one to listen to and remember that in order to combat the unjust policies that the Trump Administration is trying to pass, we have to tell them NO, that these policies aren't what the United States stands for.

The official music video for the song Sad But True

Favorite song on Metallica's black album

What is your favorite song on Metallica's black album?

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A band photo of Metallica back in 1991

From left to right: Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett, Jason Newsted, and James Hetfield.
From left to right: Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett, Jason Newsted, and James Hetfield. | Source

Nothing Else Matters may be Metallica's best ballad type song

Through the Never is a song that explores some of the most fundamental aspects of human existence. Human understanding is limited and we are quick to criticize others and there is this need to survive. Nothing Else Matters may be Metallica’s best ballad style song other than Low Man’s Lyric. The song will be enjoyed and appreciated by non-metal fans as well. It is pretty much inevitable that some fans will accuse Metallica of being sell-outs. They are actually not sell outs and instead they were trying to experiment as a band at this time and that experimentation was pretty much solid! The weakest song in the album is The God That Failed. Even so, there is not a significant decline in the songwriting in this album compared to And Justice for All.

"Through The Never"

"Metallica" Ends With the Songs My Friend of Misery & The Struggle Within

My Friend of Misery has Jason Newsted’s best bass guitar work in the album and it is one that I really loved to listen to in my teens and 20’s. The song is about someone that is filled with a life of misery and expects the entire world to listen to his constant complaints. There is so much more to life than what this person sees. The phrase “misery loves company” is pretty accurate. You attract the types of people in your life that match your feelings and emotions. The album ends with the lightning fast, energetic song The Struggle Within. Overall, the 1991 black album is a very solid album by the best metal band in United States history. These guys are simply amazing in a way that is hard to describe.

"Of Wolf and Man"

What are the Strongest Songs in "Metallica?"

There are plenty of bright spots musically on this album. Strongest songs: Enter Sandman, Sad But True, Holier Than Thou, Don’t Tread on Me, Nothing Else Matters, My Friend of Misery, Wherever I May Roam, The Struggle Within.

The song called "Holier Than Thou"

Year of release of the black album

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"My Friend of Misery"

© 2017 Ara Vahanian


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