Firstly, in case anyone is about to send me mail, I KNOW that the album is officially called Metallica, but I have never met anyone who calls it that, so, cool, keep calling it Metallica if you like, but even the cover of the latest issue of Classic Rock, the last voice in quality print rock magazines refers to it as The Black Album, so that is what I am going with. I bought it day one and THAT was its name. Ok? Good.
So The Black Album is thirty years old. Let’s think about that for a second. When I was a kid listening to mystical bands such as The Beatles, The Kinks and The Beach Boys, their classic records were around 20 years old. This beast from my youth is a whole decade older, hell Metallica probably get called ‘classic rock’ by the kids, hell I already mentioned their cover feature in a magazine of the same name. But we are all still 21, right? Actually I was not that old when this album arrived, hell I was not even Type One Diabetic yet and both my parents were alive, that is how I age things these days, not in a clanging chimes of doom way, just important life events. Of which the release of The Black Album was one. Sure, in 2021, you probably hear more people call Ride The Lightning or Master Of Puppets the best Metallica record, but for me The Black Album has always been my favourite. And that does not mean I came in here, I had all the original records on vinyl from the day my friend won the ‘101 vinyl records you should own’ from RAW Magazine and gave me the thrashier ones, including KEA,RTL and MOP. I bought …And Justice For All on cassette on day one and was there day one to buy this masterpiece.
There was work to do the first week. Well, not work like real work, but cool fan nerdy work. Donington ’91 was coming up, 4 of my favourite bands in the world : Metallica, Motley Crue, Queensryche and The Black Crowes as well as AC/DC and this album dropped the Monday (the day albums used to come out, there was no streaming, hell we did not even have the internet yet, kids!) before, so me and my buddy Duncan bought it after 6th form and we went straight back to mine with our Gameboys linked up for Tetris marathons and learning all the lyrics, day after day before the big day. The first thing you notice about The Black Album is the amazing production, it just sounds incredible, try hearing the bass on Justice, oh you can’t, but here Bob Rock, known for his work with The Cult and Motley was behind the desk and he did an amazing job. Enter Sandman was a top 5 single in a period where it was 100% physical, no sitting behind a computer, this song made people go out and buy the picture disc 7″ with a cover of Stone Cold Crazy on the B, incredible.
Donington was amazing, Metallica genuinely seemed like gods that day, a perfect back catalogue and one of the few bands in my world who would dare hit the stage after the Crue. The album took me and my friend through the summer, to the point where our cassette copies had no ink left on them, looking like blank tapes, that is how you could tell a classic record at that point.
30 years later and the remastered Enter Sandman can still destroy buildings, but obvs it did not need remastering, as I said Rock’s production lived up to his name. I will buy one of the reissues, because IT IS THE BLACK ALBUM and also I am interested in the covers project which so far has seen Miley Cyrus covering Nothing Else Matters with Sir Elton and Weezer blasting through Enter Sandman. It is probably going to be a Spotify listen as there are multiple versions of things and not sure the idea of Sam Fender covering the kings of thrash really appeals, but to each their own, it’s an exciting project nonetheless, even if it leads you back to the perfect original.
Happy birthday, how much more black could it be? None. None more black.