Metallica Wiki
Metallica (album)
Released 13th August 1991
Recorded 6th October 1990 – 16th June 1991 at One on One Recording Studios in Los Angeles, United States
Length 62:37
Number of tracks 12
Label Elektra Records (USA)
Vertigo (Europe)
Formats LP, Cassette, CD, ITunes
Genre Heavy Metal, Hard Rock, Thrash Metal
Previous Album
...And Justice for All
Next Album

Metallica (also known as The Black Album) is the fifth studio album by American heavy metal band Metallica and was released on August 12, 1991 through Elektra Records to critical acclaim. Metallica produced five hit singles that are considered today among the band's best-known songs: "Enter Sandman", "The Unforgiven", "Nothing Else Matters", "Wherever I May Roam", and "Sad But True", also "Don't Tread on Me" was released as a promo single. The band promoted the album with a series of tours. In 2003, the album was ranked number 252 on Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. The album marked a change in the band's sound to one less harsh than the thrash metal style of their previous four albums.

The recording of Metallica was troubled, with the band frequently entering conflicts with Bob Rock, the band's new producer, during production. The album debuted at number one in ten countries, and spent four consecutive weeks at the top spot of the Billboard 200, making it Metallica's first album to top album charts. Metallica is the group's best-selling album, selling 30 million copies worldwide. It is the best-selling album of the SoundScan era. The album was certified 15× platinum (diamond) by the RIAA on November 13, 2009. On November 10, 2011, Lars Ulrich revealed (on Zane Lowe's BBC Radio 1 show) that Metallica will be playing the album, in its entirety, during the 2012 European Black Album Tour.

Recording and production[]

Metallica's songwriting at that time was done mainly by singer-guitarist James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich, with Hetfield being the lyricist. The duo frequently joined forces at Ulrich's house in Berkeley, California to compose. Several song ideas and concepts were conceived by other members of the band, lead guitarist Kirk Hammett and bassist Jason Newsted. For instance, Newsted wrote the main riff of "My Friend of Misery", which was originally intended to be an instrumental that had occurred at every previous Metallica album. The songs were written in two months in the summer of 1990, with the ideas for a few dating back to the Damaged Justice Tour.

The band decided to hire Bob Rock for producing after they were impressed with his work producing Mötley Crüe's Dr. Feelgood. Initially, the band was not interested in having Rock producing the album as well, but changed their minds as Ulrich stated, "We felt that we still had our best record in us and Bob Rock could help us make it."

Demos of the album were recorded on September 13, 1990, with its lead single "Enter Sandman" being the first song written – and the last to receive lyrics. In October 1990, Metallica entered One on One Recording Studios in North Hollywood, Los Angeles, California to record the then-forthcoming album. The band also recorded the album at Little Mountain Sound Studios in Vancouver, British Columbia, but only for about one week.

"What we really wanted was a live feel. In the past, Lars and I constructed the rhythm parts without Kirk and Jason. This time I wanted to try playing as a band unit in the studio. It lightens things up and you get more of a vibe." - James Hetfield.

Since it was his first stint at producing a Metallica album, Rock had the band make the album in different ways, where they would record songs collaboratively rather than let the band members do so in separate locations. Other suggestions included recording tracks live and more harmonic vocals for Hetfield. Rock was expecting the production to be "easy" but had trouble with the group which often led to engaged arguments with the band members over aspects of working on the album and wanting Hetfield to write better lyrics, as well as finding his experience recording with Metallica disappointing. Since the band were perfectionists, Rock insisted on as many takes as needed to get the sound they wanted. The album was remixed three times, and cost US$1 million. The troubled production led to Ulrich, Hammett and Newsted entering divorces, something Hammett said influenced their playing as they were "trying to take those feeling of guilt and failure and channel them into the music, to get something positive out of it."

Rock altered the band's working schedule and routine so much that they swore never to work with him again. The animosity and tension between Metallica and Rock was documented in the documentaries A Year and a Half in the Life of Metallica and Classic Albums: Metallica. Both explore and document the intense recording process that resulted in Metallica. Years following the production, a petition signed by 1,500 fans was posted online and was an attempt to encourage the band to prohibit Rock from producing Metallica albums, claiming he had too much influence on the band's sound and musical direction. Rock indicated that the petition hurt his kids' feelings, saying, "sometimes, even with a great coach, a team keeps losing. You have to get new blood in there." Despite the controversies between the band and Rock, he continued to work with the band through the 2003 album St. Anger.

Release and reception[]

Critical response[]

Metallica received critical acclaim upon its release. One of the first reviews of the album came from Entertainment Weekly, and was published in its August 16, 1991 issue. Giving it a B+ rating, the magazine declared it "[Bob] Rock's preeminent speed-metal cyclone", while suggesting that "Metallica may have invented a new genre: progressive thrash." Melody Maker delivered similar reactions to the album, noting the differences between The Black Album and ...And Justice for All (1988): "In a committed move away from their thrash roots, Metallica was slower, less complicated, and probably twice as heavy as anything they'd done before." All music was also positive, and found it to be impressive.

After the album was released, critics continued to praise the album. Melody Maker put Metallica to number 16 in a December 1991 list of the top 30 albums of 1991. On January 21, 1997, Rolling Stone delivered a perfect 5-star review of the album, and included it in a list of "Essential Recordings of the 90's". (That 5-star score was later reduced to only four stars in The Rolling Stone Album Guide). In 2003, the album was ranked number 252 on their list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (another Metallica album, 1986's Master of Puppets, had a higher ranking). Spin magazine ranked Metallica number 52 in a 1999 list of the "90 Greatest Albums of the '90s" and stated, "this record's diamond-tipped tuneage stripped the band's melancholy guitar excess down to melodic, radio-ready bullets and ballads." It was included in Q magazine's August 2000 list of the "Best Metal Albums of All Time", and made comments that the album "transformed them from cult metal heroes into global superstars....bringing a little refinement to their undoubted power." In 1992, Metallica won the Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance.

Commercial performance[]

"You think one day some fucker's gonna tell you, 'You have a number one record in America,' and the whole world will ejaculate. I stood there in my hotel room, and there was this fax that said, 'You're number one.' And it was, like, 'Well, okay.' It's just really difficult to get excited about it. We've never been really career-conscious. We never tried to be number one. But now we're number one and it's, like, okay." - Lars Ulrich on the album's role as Metallica's first number one album.

Metallica was the band's first album to debut at number one in the United States. It had the ninth most weeks spent on the Billboard 200, with a total of 282, and last appeared on the charts in the issue dated January 18, 1997, after soaring up to 106 on the week before, then dropped out afterwards.

Metallica has sold 30 million copies worldwide, in terms of physical formats. In 2009, it surpassed Shania Twain's Come on Over (1997) as the best-selling album of the SoundScan era. The songs "Enter Sandman", "Nothing Else Matters", "Sad but True", "Wherever I May Roam" and "The Unforgiven" were among the 49 songs included on the 2009 rhythm video game Guitar Hero: Metallica.

Metallica sold over 650,000 copies upon its opening week of release domestically, overshadowing all albums released in that week. It was certified "Platinum" by the RIAA after a couple weeks. Metallica received a diamond certificate in 1997. The album was responsible for bringing Metallica to the attention of the mainstream and has been certified 15× platinum in the United States by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which makes it the 25th best-selling album in the country. To date, the album had sold 15,776,000 copies in the United States.

Metallica debuted at number one in the United Kingdom. The only chart where it failed to reach the Top 20 is the Irish Albums Chart, having peaked at number 27. After its release, the album was certified Platinum in the UK by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI).

Metallica topped the charts in Australia, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Canada, Germany and New Zealand. It also reached numbers three, five, and four at Oricon, Austria and Finland respectively. In the 21st century, the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) certified the album 11× platinum. It was given a Diamond certificate from the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA). The album was certified five times platinum in Argentina and Finland.


All tracks written by James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich unless noted.

No. Title Composer Length
1. Enter Sandman Hetfield, Ulrich, Kirk Hammett 5:31
2. Sad But True 5:24
3. Holier Than Thou 3:47
4. The Unforgiven Hetfield, Ulrich, Hammett 6:27
5. Wherever I May Roam 6:44
6. Don't Tread on Me 4:00
7. Through the Never Hetfield, Ulrich, Hammett 4:04
8. Nothing Else Matters 6:28
9. Of Wolf and Man Hetfield, Ulrich, Hammett 4:16
10. The God That Failed 5:08
11. My Friend of Misery Hetfield, Ulrich, Jason Newsted 6:49
12. The Struggle Within 3:53
Total length:

Japan Bonus Track[]

No. Title Composer Length
13. So What? (Anti-Nowhere League Cover) Nick Kulmer, Chris Exall, Clive Blake 3:08
Total length:

Metallican Bonus VHS[]

No. Title Composer Length
1. So What? (Anti-Nowhere League Cover) (Live 25.10.1992 in London, The United Kingdom) Nick Kulmer, Chris Exall, Clive Blake
2. Am I Evil? (Diamond Head Cover) (Live 5.11.1992 in Birmingham, The United Kingdom) Sean Harris, Brian Tatler
3. Helpless (Diamond Head Cover) (Live 5.11.1992 in Birmingham, The United Kingdom) Sean Harris, Brian Tatler



Additional Musicians


  • Bob Rock, James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich – producers
  • Randy Staub, Mike Tacci – engineers
  • George Marino – mastering
  • Michael Wagener, Mark Wilzcak – mixing
  • Metallica, Peter Mensch – cover concept
  • Don Brautigam – illustration
  • Ross Halfin, Rick Likong, Rob Ellis – photography


Metallica-Metallica Lyrics Pages 1-2

Page one of the official lyrics from the self-titled album by Metallica



Metallica (album)
Songs Enter SandmanSad But TrueHolier Than ThouThe UnforgivenWherever I May RoamDon't Tread on MeThrough the NeverNothing Else MattersOf Wolf and ManThe God That FailedMy Friend of MiseryThe Struggle Within
Members James HetfieldLars UlrichKirk HammettJason Newsted