Music Monday: Metallica “The Black Album”

Black album
1991’s “Metallica” – aka the Black Album

In the years leading up to 1991, Metallica was defined as a speed metal band. Played fast, played loud and played hard. I hadn’t listened to much of their music, knowing maybe the riff to “Master Of Puppets” and watching the One” video on MTV. All that changed in August 1991.

I had just been laid off from a job, my daughter was 2 months away from being born and I was working various jobs, one of which was at a place where I moved dirt, rocks and other landscaping materials in 95+ degree temps. This was a big change from the software testing and network admin work I was used to doing. Bummed out and tired each day, the one benefit was that I could take four 20 mins breaks a day. Which I looked forward to sitting in my car to enjoy some tunes.

Sony TCD-D3
My first DAT recorder that I recorded most of my CDs to
Original photo linked to datrecorders.co.uk

My car at the time didn’t have a CD player. I had replaced it with a DAT deck, which was the format I would record all of my songs to from CD. DATs were easier to carry with me and I could put a few albums on each one. I got the the Black Album the day it came out and each and every day during those breaks I took, I would go and listen to that album – track by track – and each song from “Enter Sandman” to “The Struggle Within” was a hard, kick ass juggernaut to energize me back to going back to the literal grind. After several weeks of repeated hard labor, my only wish was that I could listen while working instead of having to wait for my breaks.

One of the main tracks that stood out and got played the most was “Wherever I May Roam” which had the sitar opening and then went into a pounding, yet subdued riff that builds with each note. The song spoke to me on many levels, mostly from the point of being a very well arranged track with guitar, vocals and bass lines.

As for the tracks I liked the least? It would be a cross between “Don’t Tread On Me” and “Of Wolf And Man” Both are still good, but lyrically, they were the least interesting for me. If I’m tracking the album, I let them play, but I don’t go out of my way to hear them.

Over all, once I got past 100 plays of the album in the first few months, I ended up going back to their catalog prior to 1991, but even still, it took years for me to embrace a good deal of their previous albums and songs. It wasn’t until 1999 during a business trip to Los Angeles with a co-worker where I finally found an appreciation for everything else non-Black Album. He played the songs a lot while we worked in the data center. “Creeping Death” “Seek and Destroy” and “Sanitarium (Welcome Home)” all became instant favorites.

I still have yet to know any songs from “Ride The Lightning” even though I’m sure I’ve heard some of them. So that’s one album I need to see how it latches onto me. But even with my appreciation for their older works, the Black Album is still one of my favorites and one that I will listen to often. Their latest album, “Death Magnetic” is a good throwback to the past and the songs on it are much better than the ones that turned out on “St. Anger” [which in my opinion, is a horrible piece of production].

Who out there are Metallica fans? Any feedback? Favorite songs and albums?

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