Thirty years ago today, light exited, night entered, and perhaps the biggest metal album of all time was unleashed on the world.
Metallica‘s self-titled fifth studio record, aka The Black Album, was released August 12, 1991. With an RIAA certification of 16-times Platinum — including the hallowed Diamond distinction for over 10 million copies sold — The Black Album is Metallica’s best-selling release of their career.
Upon its release, The Black Album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 — a career first for Metallica — and has since gone on to spend a total of 619 weeks on the chart, the fourth most of any album in history. It spawned hit singles in “Enter Sandman,” “Nothing Else Matters,” “The Unforgiven,” “Sad but True” and “Wherever I May Roam,” propelling both Metallica and metal as a whole to new heights in mainstream culture.
Metallica toured extensively in support of The Black Album, including on the Monsters of Rock tour and dates with Guns N’ Roses, as well as their own headlining shows. During a stop on the GN’R run in 1992, James Hetfield was badly burned in an onstage pyrotechnic accident, which left him unable to play guitar for the rest of the tour.
Despite its massive critical and commercial success, some Metallica fans saw The Black Album as a betrayal of the band’s earlier thrash and progressive sound in favor of a more mainstream style. Indeed, it’s now often seen as a dividing line in Metallica’s discography, with some insisting that everything the band released after 1991 isn’t as good as their pre-The Black Album work.
Metallica will celebrate The Black Album‘s 30th anniversary with a deluxe reissue and The Metallica Blacklist tribute compilation, featuring 53 artists covering every song on the record. Both releases arrive September 10.
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