Metallica on The Black Album’s success: Our core underground fans thought they were losing us
With Metallica celebrating 30 years of The Black Album in August, and gearing up to release The Metallica Blacklist and The Black Album (Remastered) on September 10, the band have reflected on the record’s 1991 release, and how it turned them into the biggest metal band on the planet – but not to the delight of all their fans.
Speaking to Kerrang! for this week’s Cover Story about the Number One album, Kirk Hammett describes how it felt when Metallica were put into a “different league” thanks to The Black Album’s overwhelming success, “doing numbers like Guns N’ Roses and U2”.
“It felt really strange,” admits the guitarist. “It was great, in that we were flying the flag for heavy metal, we were bringing our type of music to a lot of people that had not heard it all around the globe. But at the same time, a lot of our core underground fans, they thought they were losing us. And I can understand that.”
Kirk reasons: “When a band goes from selling a million albums to all of a sudden selling 12 million albums, the feeling of intimacy with that band starts to erode.”
Then-bassist Jason Newsted tells K! today that part of the album’s mainstream triumph was likely down to mega-ballad Nothing Else Matters, it being a key ‘gateway’ song.
“So that soft song blows down all the walls for Battery and Fight Fire With Fire to get through and penetrate up to those people,” he says. “Without the soft song, could it have happened? Without the soft song, would we be talking about the relevance of all this now? Without the soft song would we have been able to take the ‘RAARGH!’ to the world in the way that we did?”
Jason adds of The Black Album as a whole, and its impact on music still to this day: “Thirty years on, how many thousands of bands of all languages, shapes, colours, dialects have been influenced by what we did? AC/DC and Iron Maiden took down the walls, taking this music to places it had never been. That gave us the chance and we fucking crushed it. We made a lot of people happy and we influenced a lot of people.”
The Metallica Blacklist and The Black Album (Remastered) are released on September 10 via Blackened Recordings.
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