METALLICA — Metallica (review)

METALLICA — Metallica album cover Album · 1991 · Heavy Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
Am I really first to review the Black album? Oh well. Now, the title of the review:

The album that killed the 80's.

...not entirely correct. But I'll explain it later.

'Metallica' was my first encounter with metal ('proper' metal, not the glam one) at the age of 15. Apart from the personal value, this album holds a special place in history of rock 'n' roll - it launched METALLICA on radio and opened doors for plethora of different, uncompromisable, heavy artists in the 90's. It's a second album (NIRVANA's 'Nevermind' being the first) that marked the end of an era, era of cheesy synthpop, and brought (loud!) guitars back in business. Of course, there's a palette of bands ranging from IRON MAIDEN to DIRE STRAITS that preserved the sound of rock music in the 80's - but I think you can understand my point.

'Metallica' - first off, I don't know why the album is self-titled, as it is the band's first one - , commonly known as 'The Black Album' because of its black cover, with only a name whispered almost in identical shade, (black on black!) deserves a special place in history almost as THE BEATLES' colour-counterpart.

It's also a breaking point of the band's songwriting career; you might say they took a long slope down the hill, however, it's evident they became more pop-oriented (and radio friendly) after (and with this one).

Bear in mind, it's not a sell-out, and band slightly inclined towards more 'listenable' rock format, but the album did what it did - it changed the mindset of the audience. Plus, it's far from being pop, or even bad. It's energetic and it contains a variation of different ideas, varying from rock ballads to their trash roots; the traces of progressive metal are evident only slightly, and the tracks are considerably shorter (albeit not too short), tight, packed properly to be presented to the wide world.

Of weaker tracks, I would like to pin-point forgettable 'The God That Failed', under-developed 'Whenever I May Roam' and 'The Struggle Within'. Perhaps the 'Struggle' contains decent intro (yet another adaptation of Bernstein's 'America') under the bold, chugging riff, but it's laughable, and it's certainly not THE NICE. 'Roam' contains a decent melody (and a nice sitar intro) but it seems it goes without any significant changes until the fade-out.

'Nothing Else Matters' and 'Unforgiven' (which will experience two more reincarnations in the post-black period) are, needles to say, two easiest tunes from the album ,and both of theme were major hits, as well as a roadmark of the band's new musical approach. The songs so overplayed (and overperformed - do you know ANY amateur guitar that never tried to played that open strings intro??!?), I won't be saying anything more about them.

What is left (and that's more than half an hour of material) is good metal with thrashy overtones. The quick power chord changes, unexpected jumps in dynamics of 'Master Of Puppets' and 'Justice' are gone, what's left are mostly slow to mid-paced songs with tight riffing and catchy licks, all of that dense in execution. Two of them, well-known 'Enter Sandman' and 'Sad But True' both fit in this formula, 'Sad...' emphasizing it more, while 'Sandman' being really wicked in utilizing an innocent child's voice praying among the horror spleen - very BLACK SABBATH like in its 'evilness'. The rest of the rest is worth checking, while not being the sterling material, it's far from being weak. For a general audience, the album might be an acquired taste, for a metal fan is obligatory; any rock fan should check it out and decide it for him/herself.
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