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Metallica - Metallica [Aka: The Black Album] CD (album) cover




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3.27 | 593 ratings

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4 stars Off to Never Never land . . .

I have three all-time favorite Metallica albums. I find them the most enjoyable listen out of everything they have released so far. This is one of them.

It's odd feeling like I have to defend this incredible work, but often times I find myself giving all the reasons why people should respect it more than they do. Especially in Prog circles, there seems to be a negative view of The Black Album. Maybe because Metallica's Prog Metal days were over, and more accessible music was beginning to take shape, here. Maybe because no song on the album is over seven minutes in length. Maybe because the playing isn't as technical, or the themes as broad and epic as hey once were.

For whatever reason, though, I think it's a shame that so many people consider this one of the lower point in the band's career. If anything, this album breathed new life into Metallica, gearing them up for a new era of music-making and a bunch of new fans of this newer, more modern version. Sure, most of the music that came after this release wouldn't reach the same caliber until seventeen years later (woah!), but for a lot of people, this is their favorite era from the band. Not everybody enjoys the overly- technical, speed Metal that the band had been cooking up before, and the band members themselves were even getting bored of it. So they took a risk and decided to change their style. While most of their attempts at this admittedly failed (in my opinion), this album is the band in transition, and therefore there are still some really amazing musical moments on it that recalls the band's earlier glory days. At the same time, we get a newer, heavier, slower-paced side to the band thrown into the mix, and both of those elements combined made one hell of a record, as far as I am concerned.

Who can deny that the main riff to ''Enter Sandman'' or the drum intro to ''Sad But True'' aren't iconic moments in music? Who can deny that ballads like ''The Unforgiven'' or ''Nothing Else Matters'' move the soul and pull back the veil, giving insight into a much deeper, softer side of the band? Sure, this stuff may not be everybody's cup of tea, but the playing is still top-notch, and the songwriting is just as strong as ever, despite being aimed in a more commercial direction. Gone are the long, epic Prog Metal pieces that once graced the ears of Metallica listeners everywhere. In place of them were shorter, more concise pieces of straightforward, pounding Metal that still had enough Progressive influences to keep things interesting.

I realize things didn't work out the way many fans at the time wanted them to, but I honestly think THIS was the last great Metallica album before the release of Death Magnetic, and not And Justice For All like a lot of people claim. We could hear the beginnings of the simpler Metallica on this record, but there was still enough progressive and complex music present here to make it a nice chapter closer, and one of my personal favorites from the band.

So do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of Metallica if you don't already own one. Despite some lower points (which are extremely rare, mind you), this is an iconic album that should not be missed by any serious metal fan. Even if you're more drawn to Prog Metal, there is enough complexity in here to fit that bill, as well.

Happy listening.

JLocke | 4/5 |


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