Sunday 25 Sep 2016

Metallica, the Album
Jeremy Mullin

I admit it’s hard to say one CD or another is my absolute favourite.  I’m sure, as most people, I don’t have one particular favourite. I have many I like. I go through periods where I listen to only one, repeatedly. Yet, if I have to say there’s one that’s my “for sure” favorite, it’s “Metallica,” the self-titled fifth studio.

This CD is also known as, unofficially, as “The Black Album” because of its near-all black cover. Still, you can still see the logo, in faint metallic print, in the upper corner, along with a don’t-tread-on-me-style coiled snake stamped in the lower corner.

“Metallica” was the first major mainstream release for the band.  With hit singles, such as “Enter Sandman,” “The Unforgiven” and “Nothing Else Matters,” Metallica became a household name, practically, in 1990s. These releases kept the band touring for two and a half years. 

This CD is the first Metallica album I bought. This is the first heavy metal album, in my collection, too. “Metallica” is thus special for sentimental reasons.

There are many reasons why I like this CD.  For one, “Metallica” is one, of few, albums I can listen to from start to finish. Usually, I skip around, from track to track: to hear only songs I like the most. 

“The Black Album,” by Metallica, has many great songs; it’s more than singles or music videos.  In addition to the aforementioned songs, along with “Sad But True” and “Wherever I May Roam,” other songs from the CD, which I like, include the werewolf-themed “Of Wolf and Man,” the head-bang inducing “Holier Than Thou” and the CD’s final track, “Struggle Within.” 

Yes, there are songs on the CD I like more than others. When playing “Metallica,” I will skip around at times or only include certain ones as part of playlists. Still, this is a CD I will want to listen to all the way through.

Another reason I like this CD is the cover.  There are other CDs with impressive cover art. Two examples are the last three Disturbed albums, featuring its mascot, “The Guy,” or “Appetite for Destruction,” by Guns ‘n Roses.

Yet, you can’t help like the cover for “Metallica.”  Yes, it is on the plain side, with just an all-black cover containing images that you can barely see.  Still, that simplicity makes it great. 

Many bands, heavy metal or not, release albums with questionable covers.  These albums are too numerous to list, but “The Black Album,” well, you can’t say anything bad about it.  How hard is it to screw up an all-black cover?  The cover is straight, simple, to the point.  You can’t go wrong with it.  Yes, Metallica has albums, with arty covers, both in the past and since. Still, even those are simple in design compared to other metal bands.

“The Black Album” also has an accompanying home video documentary, not sold with the CD, is still a part of it.  “A Year and a Half in the Life of Metallica” is a two-part documentary. The first part focuses on the band recording the album, giving fans a look into the process of making a studio record; from working with producer Bob Rock, to the various takes to even the band goofing off as they relax and take breaks. 

The second part of the documentary covers the touring Metallica did to promote the album, which also includes the infamous tour with Guns ‘n Roses and front man James Hetfield and his pyro-technic accident.  All the while, the band members provide narration and commentary for the documentary, explaining the various events that happen, often with their own opinions. 

The documentary includes live performances by Metallica. If you bought the CD, the DVD, with the videos, is necessary buy. It fills out your experience with this album.

Say what you will about Metallica these days, but this “Metallica” is the reason it became one of the biggest metal acts in the world.  Of my entire music library, this will probably be one of, if not my absolute, favourite, and one any metal fan must own.

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