Metallica - Metallica (album review 20) (2023)

Metallica was the band Metallica's fifth album, released August 12, 1991 through Elektra Records. It is also called The Black Album because of its largely black and featureless cover (only the band's logo and a coiled snake are barely visible). The album was their first commercial success.

The Black Album was a controversial album amongst fans of the band. While the album and the band were critically and commercially praised, many fans expressed disappointment and outrage at the new direction taken by Metallica; gone, for the most part were the searing riffs, intense speeds and lyrical themes of such the first four albums - the Black Album presented a more mature, radio-friendly, commercially accessible Metallica, evidenced by the ballad "Nothing Else Matters", a song that is about being on the road all the time.

Metallica won their first ever Grammy Award for the Black Album in the "Best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal" category. The Black Album got to No.1 straight away on the Billboard Album Charts in 1991 and the album had good commercial success with the singles for the rest of the 2 years ahead like "Enter Sandman", "Don't Tread On Me", "Nothing Else Matters", "Sad But True", "The Unforgiven" and "Wherever I May Roam".

--- The Review ---

"Enter Sandman" is the opener of the album with a clean start of a eerie guitar with a side effect of wah-wah accompany. The whole basis of the song picks up with thomping drums on the toms and snare varing each other. When you first hear this opening, you realise this is so different to their early work it is quite interesting how the outcome will be. The outcome is extrodinary with James' vocals lower than normal and music is in a different style. The only similar touch to the song is the electrifying solo that is excellent. The bridge is very effective with James praying with a child which really goes with the music. The rhythm of the guitar carries the song along till the end. This was a great release and possibly one of the best on the album.

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"Sad But True" is another release of this album and is slightly heavier than Enter Sandman. The rhythm is very metal based with guitaring full of hammer ons and palm muting but much slower than their early work. The lyrics here are really good for example:

"You, you're my mask, you're my cover, my shelter,
You're the one who's blamed,
Do, do my work, do my dirty work scapegoat,
Do, do my deeds for you're the one who's shamed"

James' vocals towards the lyrics are very angst which really affects the song really well, the solo is great as always and drums are simple but give that powering movement to the song so overall the song is great to listen to.

"Holier Than Thou" is a fast song with slight palm muted guitaring all the time and the drums giving the power as Lars likes to do it. This song has momentum with rhythm very catchy and vocals are angst again and lyrics are as well. The chorus is very brief with few words which should stay that as the verse gives the flowing tempo here. The solo is full of wah-wah which the album is full of so nothing new. The bridge is very good with for a brief moment the bass line shines here with drums accompaning it then the climax rises when guitars enter then the song comes to a halt when it reachs the peak. I would say the song is enjoyable but not amazing.

"The Unforgiven" is a ballad of some sort with acoustic at the start which is rare for Metallica. The sound here is very nice to listen to until it gets to the verse when all music turns to distortion and power. James vocals are angst again and lyrics are distressing. The chorus is just a repeat of the rhythm of the acoustic part but with vocals. The song is actually beautiful of youmput the angsty aside and listen to the music. The bridge is excellent with the solo foolowing straight after and is distorted, its sounds perfect to the song. This is an excellent and earns its place in Metallica's best songs.

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"Wherever I May Roam" starts with a sitar playing effect on guitar. This gives a strange atmosphere to the song and then the whole thing sets to distortion keeping the same melody of the sitar part, the drums accompanies the guitar for power. The vocals here is excellent and lyrics are very seducing. This song is a head banger in my opinion with its snare powered rhythm and palm muting guitaring going together perfectly. The solo is extrodinary with its wah-wah based sound and its frantic fretting. Excellent release for the album and gracefully moves on to the next track.

"Don't Tread On Me" is a powerful on its distorted sound and loud drums. The song is one of the weakest on the album but it doesn't mean it is a bad song. The song is very moving in its marching feeling. It sounds very angst on lyrics and the vocals are very angst as well with its roaring sound. The song is actually repetitive on the account it repeats the same thing over and over again. The solo is great as normal and the bridge sounds like their early work but in a different tempo. It is an above average song due to its blandness of repetitive construction.

"Through The Never" is the same logic as "Don't Tread On Me" with its repetitive construction which drags along but again, this song has its moments like its driving guitar riff that sounds really cool and its angst vocals. The song has drums that are really a rhythm maker and really makes an impact on the song with its hard drumming. The solo is the high point here with its mind boggling fretting, harmonics and the whammy bar used creates a great effect. This is a powerhouse song but sadly, repetitiveness gets in the way.

"Nothing Else Matters" is the real ballad here. The song is beautiful with its nice melody on the guitar and so much emotion is put on the vocals. The guitaring on this song is moderately hard and the drums is very simple, the bass line here helps move the rhythm along. The lyrics like I said before is about being on the road all the time so you would expect some truthful feelings here. The music on this song is the high point as it is so beautifully constructed with its string arrangements, lovely acoustic guitar work and a great end solo that really gives the emotion out on the song. This is one of the high points on the album and is another great release from the album. Brilliant song.

"Of Wolf And Man" turns the tone of the album back on to the head banging side with so much power into this song. When I mean power, I mean so much power on the drums, the magnificent riff on the guitar and angst vocals based on angst lyrics. This song is a work of beauty and I wonder this wasn't released as it would have attracted more people to this album as I would say this is better than "Sad But True" by far. But oh well.... The solo really suits this song well with its rhythm based fretting rather than a frantic finger tapping solo. The bridge is really cool and so I say this a superb song.

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The God That Failed is a bass lined song really as it sets the tone of the song. The bass line is really good and the guitar accompaning it is good as well. The verse is really angst with vocals and lyrics being very distressing like this:

"Pride you took, Pride you feel, Pride that you felt when you'd kneel,
Not the word, Not the love, Not what you thought from above,
It feeds, It grows, It clouds all that you will know,
Deceit, Decieve, Decide just what you believe."

The chorus is powerful as well as the song is, the solo is put into to parts that are both excellent. The ending of the song breaks down into a clean mellow chord that signals a great ending.

"My Friend Of Misery" has again got a starting bass line that is better than the previous one, and it really represents misery a lot with its desecending fretting, excellent stuff. The guitaring is the melody here with again creating a sad atmosphere. Vocals angst as always on this album but the lyrics aren't angst really, it just talks about why his friend is sad. This song at midway breaks down to a beautiful bridge with emotional string effected guitaring and lovely rhythm guitaring work, then it moves to 2 electrifying solos that really makes a difference to the bridge. This song is excellent and is worth a listen.

The last song on the album "The Struggle Within" starts off with a army kind of drumming and then some 80's style guitaring. And then, it breaks down to a frantic song that is full of angsty. The chorus is excellent with the shouting "Struggle Within", it really makes an impact on the song. The solo is probably the best on the album as it has so much variation on it from finger tapping to some rhythm based. This is a great finish to an album and a great song.

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Heres the ratings I would give to the songs:

1. Enter Sandman - 5/5
2. Sad but True - 4.5/5
3. Holier Than Thou - 3.5/5
4. The Unforgiven - 5/5
5. Wherever I May Roam - 4.5/5
6. Don't Tread on Me - 3/5
7. Through the Never - 3.5/5
8. Nothing Else Matters - 5/5
9. Of Wolf and Man - 5/5
10. The God that Failed - 4/5
11. My Friend of Misery - 4.5/5
12. The Struggle Within - 4.5/5

Overall. the album is superb and one of Metallica's best album suprisingly. This album may not be liked by their hardcore fans of their early work but I think that people who like normal Rock music will treasure this and I have. The only problems their is that the songs are repetitive at times and drag along quite a bit and the songs are awfully similar, even so this album was a major success in the early 90's and has had many success even now so I am going to give this:

Overall: 4.5/5

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Metallica discography
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