I will never forget the tape that I had with the “Black Album”, which I couldn’t eject from my stereo. Neither that “Sad But True” was stuck in my brain and kept playing in my head at home, school, even in my sleep.
The band changed it’s attitude, sound and style and conquered the world. It took a one way street and never looked back. It became the biggest band in the planet, actually something even greater than that: an unrepeatable Cultural phenomenon. That’s what its worldwide sales, its impact in music and artists from the ‘90s onwards, showed. Even their move to release an album of 51 covers from bands and artists from all possible music genres underlines exactly that. Whether people will like them or not, it’s totally irrelevant. In the same vein as “St.Anger” was terrible and “Lulu” sucked.
Nothing and nobody can take anything away from the institution that Metallica became, whose most solid foundation was this album.
In late July 1991, a video showing a boy being chased by a truck appeared on TV channels all around the world. In seconds, the titles “Metallica – Enter Sandman – Metallica” appeared on the screen. Everyone, as far as I can remember, was arguing that something big was just in front of us. Two weeks later, the shelves of record stores were packed with a black record with the Metallica logo … fading in the upper left corner of its cover.
25,000,000 sales worldwide, the continuous screening of the five videos that they made for it and the three-year world tour that followed show in the clearest way that Metallica entered the homes of everybody having as “driver” Bob Rock who knew exactly how this will be done. And one last thing, Metallica had written two ballads that still flood the air plays having “suffered” numerous cover renditions.
We celebrate the 30th anniversary of an album that permanently marked not only a whole generation of fans but heavy metal as a genre of music. An album that falls into the same category as all the masterpieces of the classic rock sound; after all, this is the album that made heavy metal music accessible to millions of people around the globe. People that didn’t have a clue about Metallica or Heavy Metal. And this is the immense dynamic and success of “The Black Album”.
In the perpetual dilemma “Metallica vs Maiden”, I am a firm supporter of the British supergroup. Having said that, The Black Album is the sole record that I’d put in a time capsule for the next generations (and why not an alien civilization) to discover and get a perfect idea of what heavy metal music is. Long Live Metallica, Long Live Bob Rock, Long Live Heavy Metal!
It was certain that this reissue would be something more than complete, to match the volume, the impact, the weight of the black album. Let’s see what has happened in the last few days: Metallica managed to give cool credentials to Hannah Montana of all people, she managed to stir Hetfield’s emotions describing what ‘Nothing Else Matters’ means to her, Howard Stern called Elton John via zoom, and Sir Elton talked mentioned that these were some of the best songs ever written. Even shockingly unfunny host Jimmy Kimmel scored a couple of cool points, and ‘Holier Than Thou’, with its prophetic lyrics about today’s woke culture, was played live on American prime TV. Metallica’s attitude combined with their universality remain unmatched.