MOULTRIE, Ga. – While I missed the 30th anniversary by a bit over a month, I wanted to take a look back at one of the biggest albums in rock/metal: “Metallica” by Metallica. 

Colloquially known as “The Black Album,” it continues to sell thousands of copies a week, according to Billboard Magazine. Originally released on Aug. 12, 1991, the album has given modern music some of its biggest hits including “Enter Sandman,” “Sad But True,” “The Unforgiven” and “Wherever I May Roam.” 

The album catapulted Metallica into a mainstream success they had not yet seen. The group began work on the album during their “... And Justice For All tour. When they got back into the studio in the summer of 1990 they thought the recording would be easy. That is until producing giant Bob Rock was chosen to put the next album together. Rock had at that point already made a name for himself working with some of the biggest acts of the 1980s including Aerosmith, Motley Crue and The Cult. 

“The first thing that he told me was that he felt that we had never made a record that was up to his standards,” Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett said in a 2003 interview with Loudwire Magazine.

During the album’s recording, Rock had helped the group turn up the bass, rely on Lars Ulrich’s driving drumming and let singer/guitarist James Hetfield impact the stereos in what culminated into Metallica’s most successful album.

“The goal from the start was to get this thing perfect,” Hammett said in the same interview. “Even though we had our problems with Bob, we knew that he was the person who could get that done.”

“Getting it done” was a bit of understatement. The album would go on to net Metallica their first number one single in “Enter Sandman” and their highest charting album to date. Its cultural significance is still relevant today. Head-banging anthems such as “Sandman,” “Don’t Tread on Me” and “Of Wolf and Man” can still be heard at most major sporting events.

According to LoudWire, The Black Album has sold over 30 million copies worldwide and in 2014 it became the first record to sell over 16 million copies since SoundScan started charting record sales in ’91. SoundScan is one of the precursors to what are known as the “Billboard 200” charts. 

“The disc spent the most weeks, 307, on the Billboard 200 chart during the SoundScan era. That makes it the third-longest-charting studio album behind Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon’and Carole King’s ‘Tapestry,’” said Jon Wiederhorn, Billboard Magazine contributor. 

Even today, most people know Metallica. Even if you don’t know who they are, you’ve probably heard one of their songs at least once in your life. 

“That album was so big and so amazing,” said Avenged Sevenfold singer M. Shadows in a Rolling Stones article. Avenged Sevenfold was on tour with Metallica as the opening act before the coronavirus pandemic shut down Metallica’s touring. 

There isn’t much else I can say about the album that has helped define the mainstream rock/metal genre for 30 years. I will say that while Metallica is getting up there in years, they don’t seem to be slowing down. I had the pleasure of seeing Metallica live a few years ago when they were performing in what was then Suntrust Park.

Metallica is currently on a U.S. tour after being on hiatus then canceling an international tour due to COVID. They will be performing Nov. 6 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium with contemporary rock legends Cage the Elephant and Greta Van Fleet. According to TicketMaster, tickets are currently sold out but I’m sure you can find one or two if you dig deep enough. I know I will.

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