My favorite Metallica fan reminded me I’m a bit behind on my writing, so let’s jump into the self-titled album from Metallica, also known to many as the “Black Album”, not unlike the Beatles and their self-titled “White Album”. Delivering their most commercially successful album during the rise of grunge rock is even more impressive, and this record is definitely a metal classic. Interestingly enough, it is not on the loudwire.com Top 10 Metal Albums of All Time, and I know many Metallica fans look at this shift in sound and style to be a “sellout” of their intense and insanely fast metal roots. It did bring Metallica to a new audience, and is rated #235 on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
The record opens with their most famous hit, “Enter Sandman”. I still love this song no matter how many times I have heard it, and like a lot of the rest of the record, I do think drummer Lars Ulrich does some of his best work here. I don’t know what song I have heard the most times in my life, but if we are counting only the first minute, this one is near the top. Why, you may ask? It also happens to serve as the show opener for my favorite sports talk team in Washington D.C., and has helped me to wake up on the morning commute more times than I could count.
I have also always loved the next song, “Sad But True”. It has a really crunchy riff and the drums are awesome again; it may be my favorite song on this album. It is slow Metallica, but it certainly isn’t soft Metallica. The pace quickens on “Holier Than Thou”, as I would hope this song helped to restore the faith for the thrashers out there. “The Unforgiven” is one of two slow, dark, masterpieces on this album, and even if it isn’t moving at 126 miles per hour, it still hits with the same intensity this band has mastered.
This record has so many great songs, and “Wherever I May Roam” keeps the momentum going. I personally appreciate the expanded songwriting and changes in pace. For me, it keeps me focus and interested as a listener. “Don’t Tread on Me” and “Through the Never” are not as well known, but are both great songs with that trademark Metallica sound.
The next song was also a huge success, and has recently been covered by a collaboration of Miley Cyrus and Elton John, of all choices. “Nothing Else Matters” is a beautiful song of devotion and trust, and as James Hetfield passionately takes us through this life lesson, it is impossible not to be moved by the meaning behind this song. Elton John called it one of the best songs ever written, and I’m not disagreeing with him at all.
The rest of the album runs together a bit more for me, and I know I have my limits with Metallica. James Hetfield is a force on their driving pace, but his limited range and tone sometimes wears on me after a certain period of time. I think that’s why I enjoyed this album, especially the songs I cited above, as each is so different from one another. So, Christie… thanks for being my favorite Metallica fan and thanks for nudging me to get moving again.
“I never opened myself this way, Life is ours, we live it our way, All these words I don’t just say, And nothing else matters…”