Rating:
7.3
Metallica - Metallica
13 August 1991


01. Enter Sandman
02. Sad But True
03. Holier Than Thou
04. The Unforgiven
05. Wherever I May Roam
06. Don't Tread On Me
07. Through The Never
08. Nothing Else Matters
09. Of Wolf And Man
10. The God That Failed
11. My Friend Of Misery
12. The Struggle Within
13. So What [Anti-Nowhere League cover] [Japanese bonus]


Like far too many people in this world, I was largely introduced to Metallica by their self-titled album, fueled by the super mega platinum #1 smash hit single "Enter Sandman." In fact, Metallica, known colloquially as "The Black Album" for its presumably Spinal Tap-inspired artwork, was, in fact, one of the first Metal albums that really resonated with me and warranted repeated listens. Even so, I cannot confess to having much of a sentimental connection with this album, because, after exploring the wide world of heavy metal and acquainting myself with REAL Metallica, it has become clear to me that this album is nothing special.

While I never agreed with the childish sentiments that Metallica "sold out" with this record, it certainly marks the inception of the band's modern, commercial image. James Hetfield effectively ditched his high-pitched, reverb-drenched snarls in favor of his current singing style, which amounts to an over-articulated, annoyingly clean stream of "yeah," "whoa," and "rrrrah." The production is cleaner and more professional than ever before, in keeping with the band's rapidly-growing reputation in the music industry. Musically, the band retained their recognizable post-Cliff sound for which they are now known - the sound of two guitars chugging and riffing in unison, punctuated by Lars Ulrich's drums while some guy stands outside the sound booth holding a bass at arm's length.

Unfortunately, there is almost no thrash on this album. …And Justice For All was also saturated with slower and more mid-tempo songs, but at least the lack of speed was compensated for by brilliance of songwriting and interesting progressions. Metallica is just a one-hour cavalcade of simple riffs, radio-friendly song structures, and even *gasp* two ballads. Everyone who has had a radio on for five minutes in his life knows "Enter Sandman," "The Unforgiven," and "Nothing Else Matters," and will then claim on the basis of these three songs to be a Metallica fan. Despite being the infamous tune that caused the band's nonstop climb to huge amounts of financial success, "Enter Sandman" is actually quite a worthy song. The other two are not.

Metallica starts out promising great things, with the classics "Enter Sandman" and "Sad But True" leading off, but things go south pretty quickly. The subpar thrasher "Holier Than Thou" cannot compare to previous thrashterpieces like "Trapped Under Ice" and "Battery," and seems unimaginative by comparison. From there, the album descends into mid-tempo hard rock tunes that, while not altogether terrible, merely make you want to throw on Ride The Lightning and resurrect the true essence of Metallica. It isn't bad, but it isn't great, either.

Performance: 8
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 6
Production: 8


Band profile: Metallica
Album: Metallica


 


written by ScreamingSteelUS | 17.08.2012


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.

Guest review by
AnGina--

Rating:
9.8
Even though Metallica became more known to a wider audience in 1986 with the release of Master of Puppets, "The Black Album" (released in 1991) however, was the biggest break point for Metallica. It was praised by reviewers and musicians, it stunned many fans then and also now. With the "Black Album" their old thrashy sound was abandoned and Metallica was literally shot into superstardom. With commercial hits such as "Enter Sandman" and the widely known "Nothing Else Matters", Metallica's music became more and more accessible to radio stations and television. But as I said, I still believe it's a "must have". "The Black Album" was major break point in the rock music business and the influence of it and Metallica in general is just impossible not to notice. Not only does it differ musically from the previous four releases, this album is also lyrically much more personal and therefore occasionally softer. Still, Metallica hasn't lost their touch and the aggressive guitar sound is still there.

Read more ››
published 07.10.2006 | Comments (50)



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Ace Frawley - 17.08.2012 at 12:18  
Good review. Sums it up well. This was the beginning of the decline. Only five years before this album they were close to the most significant band in metal but by the release of this album they were no longer a force. I like this album though - it's a helluva rock album.
Zaphod - 17.08.2012 at 13:29  
I disagree on the Nothing Else Matters part, that song is terrific. And I agree on the score, but not on the entire review, your score seems a bit high
Mattybu - 17.08.2012 at 17:02  
Some decent points brought up here, although I think the score is too generous. At least it's better than the god damn 9.8 the other person gave it, which is just ridiculous.
Cuca Beludo - 17.08.2012 at 17:47  
Enter Sandman is one of the most boring songs of all time... I don't know why I was so addicted to it three years ago From all these 12 songs, I can only listen to three: Sad But True, The Unforgiven and Wherever I May Roam.... The rest can be avoided.

6,5/10 for me..
ScreamingSteelUS - 17.08.2012 at 18:16  
I am proud of the fact that I made a Spinal Tap reference in my 11th review.
Marcel Hubregtse - 17.08.2012 at 21:30  
Written by ScreamingSteelUS on 17.08.2012 at 18:16

I am proud of the fact that I made a Spinal Tap reference in my 11th review.


damn, didn't know iot was your 11th else I might have mentioned the Spinal Tap thing
afu - 17.08.2012 at 22:00  
I think the originality score is too low. In 1991, there was no mainstream metal that sounded remotely like this. Metallica more or less created it. By doing doing so, almost all the other big thrash bands either jumped on board, were forced on board, or at least updated their sound and image. Later, the next wave of hard rock and mainstream metal bands aped this album and a shitload of people were using Mesa/Boogie and EMG by the end of the 90's. Due to the other thrash bands, the aping, and people using similar gear, it doesn't seem as fresh as it did in 1991 and a 6 doesn't really capture the significance of the left turn these guys took.

Also, this production by the standards of 1991 is a 9 or 10. It's pristine and mixed very well. There is a lot of reverb, but it was 1991. Many releases with a decent production had too much reverb compared to modern recordings.

If you don't like the songs, knock the writing way down, but I think credit is due where it belongs.
BoxCar Willy - 17.08.2012 at 22:09  
Written by ScreamingSteelUS on 17.08.2012 at 18:16

I am proud of the fact that I made a Spinal Tap reference in my 11th review.

YES!

How long did you plan this out?
ScreamingSteelUS - 17.08.2012 at 23:52  
Written by afu on 17.08.2012 at 22:00

I think the originality score is too low. In 1991, there was no mainstream metal that sounded remotely like this. Metallica more or less created it. By doing doing so, almost all the other big thrash bands either jumped on board, were forced on board, or at least updated their sound and image. Later, the next wave of hard rock and mainstream metal bands aped this album and a shitload of people were using Mesa/Boogie and EMG by the end of the 90's. Due to the other thrash bands, the aping, and people using similar gear, it doesn't seem as fresh as it did in 1991 and a 6 doesn't really capture the significance of the left turn these guys took.


You do have a good point.
ScreamingSteelUS - 17.08.2012 at 23:53  
Written by BoxCar Willy on 17.08.2012 at 22:09

Written by ScreamingSteelUS on 17.08.2012 at 18:16

I am proud of the fact that I made a Spinal Tap reference in my 11th review.

YES!

How long did you plan this out?

I actually didn't realize it until after I had finished it. It must have been subconscious.
bitethepain - 19.08.2012 at 01:12  
This album is a metal masterpiece! One of my favorites and the best in the genre!
Fredd - 20.08.2012 at 09:08  
My feelings towards this album (and metallica in general) are contradictory and conflicting. on one hand, this one of my earliest metal albums (and bands), one that holds great emotional and nostalgic values, and if not for it, i probably wouldnt have been listening to metal now. on the other hand, it's sugary, accessible and holds no musical value in itself anymore.

my opinion keeps swinging overnight. part of me really wants to rate this 7, the other part really wants it a 10.

the solution? i dont think about it anymore. damn you for writing this review and making me think about it.
Cynic Metalhead - 20.08.2012 at 10:33  
Written by Fredd on 20.08.2012 at 09:08

part of me really wants to rate this 7, the other part really wants it a 10.


Lets join that parts first and then break that fucking shit into two pieces. Not decided? Lets make this shit more clear, 10 plus 7 = 17 divided by 2 = 8.5.

So, here you go. Rate 8 to this album.
Fredd - 20.08.2012 at 10:35  
Written by Cynic Metalhead on 20.08.2012 at 10:33

Written by Fredd on 20.08.2012 at 09:08

part of me really wants to rate this 7, the other part really wants it a 10.


Lets join that parts first and then break that fucking shit into two pieces. Not decided? Lets make this shit more clear, 10 plus 7 = 17 divided by 2 = 8.5.

So, here you go. Rate 8 to this album.

which is what ive done
afu - 21.08.2012 at 20:56  
Written by Fredd on 20.08.2012 at 10:35

Written by Cynic Metalhead on 20.08.2012 at 10:33

Written by Fredd on 20.08.2012 at 09:08

part of me really wants to rate this 7, the other part really wants it a 10.


Lets join that parts first and then break that fucking shit into two pieces. Not decided? Lets make this shit more clear, 10 plus 7 = 17 divided by 2 = 8.5.

So, here you go. Rate 8 to this album.

which is what ive done


Actually, the mathematical rules for rounding numbers would round up anything that is half or more and round down anything that is less than half. An 8.5 would round to 9; an 8.4 would round to 8. I don't really mind what you rate it, but I wanted to clarify that.
Jaeryd17‍ - 27.12.2012 at 23:46  
Written by afu on 21.08.2012 at 20:56

Actually, the mathematical rules for rounding numbers would round up anything that is half or more and round down anything that is less than half. An 8.5 would round to 9; an 8.4 would round to 8. I don't really mind what you rate it, but I wanted to clarify that.


That might be mathematical rules, but that's just an imaginary construct made to get everyone on the same page. Same as the order of operations. The only reason for the order of operations is so that way people know how to properly structure their equations in order to properly express and convey their mathematical ideas (and work out other people's equations the way they intended). The order of operations isn't something that naturally occurs in numbers, it's a structure imposed on numbers by mathematicians in order for everyone to be on the same page.

It's a lot like language. A word can mean whatever you want it to mean, but if you want to communicate, you better use the words the way that everyone else understands them, or people will misinterpret you.

On this site, it's okay to break those rules; it doesn't matter if we rate something 8.5 and then round it down to an 8. Maybe we don't feel it's worthy of a nine, that it's more of an 8.45--such a number rounds to 8.5 if you round to the tenths, or just an 8 if you round to the whole numbers. Sometimes I round down my .5 ratings, too. It just depends on how I feel about the album.

---

Anyway, totally off topic. Here to talk about the review...

I agree with this review, except for one thing: I actually like The Unforgiven. Other than that, the reviewer is right. This isn't too bad, it's just really kinda boring. Enter Sandman is good, but Nothing Else Matters is a bland. My friend of misery has a nice gloomy feel to it, but like most of the other songs, it's just "meh." The whole album is somewhat repetitive and a bit uninspired, but still decent enough.

A decent album, but nothing really all that special. I think 7.3 is an accurate rating.
Ace Frawley - 28.12.2012 at 08:16  
Written by Jaeryd17‍ on 27.12.2012 at 23:46

A decent album, but nothing really all that special. I think 7.3 is an accurate rating.


Yeah, and I think the annoying thing for true metal fans was that they'd released some vastly superior albums prior to this and then when this came out, it seemed like the whole world went bananas for it. They sold millions of copies and became huge and the rest of us true metal fans were left wondering what the hell happened. I think it shows that the mainstream like rock music to be less threatening and easier to stomach and this album gave them all that.

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