To honor the 30th anniversary of Metallica‘s eponymous Black Album, Spin magazine spoke with 30 artists, who reflect upon the album’s milestone.


“I think any Metallica album is a given for a hard rock/metal record collection. They are the pinnacle of that style of music, and they were among the first bands to revolutionize that particular style and sound. But the Black Album crossed over in a way that made them a household name and they achieved that while maintaining their sonic integrity, songwriting and attitude. They took their signature style and recorded an album that became universally accessible, but still fucking cool. That is no small feat and maybe something that artists like Metallica might not even want to do—but it happened on this record. For them, the Black Album’s legacy will live on forever.

Charlie Benante (Anthrax):

“Culturally, the Black Album was one that changed things at radio. This was a real heavy metal band, now getting played on the radio, and that opened doors for a lot of other bands to come and steal that sound. That was true, because, maybe a few years after the Black Album, there were a lot of other bands that came out to try and sound like [it]. Some of them had big hits. I also think the production on that album is really good: Bob Rock did an awesome job on that record. My favorite Bob Rock record, the one that I always go to, is Back in Black. I don’t know what it is about “black,” but it works. I think that record still sounds great.

I think that after …And Justice for All, Metallica was trying to go to the next level and make a change. There’s such a drastic change in sound from …And Justice to the Black Album. It’s very polished, and I think it was an effort by the band to change. And Bob Rock was brought in to make that change. He made that album sound like a new Metallica, and it really resonated with people. People who never knew who they were, now knew who they were, and they became household names.”

[Dana’s note: Back In Black was produced by Mutt Lange, not Bob Rock. Some of Rock’s other works include: Blue Murder’s debut LP, Mötley Crüe’s Dr. Feelgood, Little Caesar’s debut, etc..]

Rodrigo Y Gabriela:

Rodrigo Sanchez: “I think it’s down to the songs. It’s just full of classics that stand up to repeat listening year after year. It was a great time for rock: The Black AlbumNevermind and Blood Sugar Sex Magik were all released within a few weeks of each other in 1991. The Black Album is like the monolith in Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, this massive, iconic slab of darkness that you cannot help being drawn towards.”

Gabriela Quintero: “We were Metallica fans since hearing Master Of Puppets in the mid-’80s, and the band were a big influence on us as young musicians playing thrash metal in Mexico City. As a fan, you are always excited to hear what a band does next—you make that emotional investment. With the release of the Black Album, they changed their approach. There was more variety of tempo and it was more melodic. But they still sounded like the heaviest band in the world. As a fan, you went with them down this new road.”

K.K. Downing:

“I think every band have had hallmark albums throughout their careers—not to say that the others are not credible and great as well, some of them just jumped out and they’re just undeniable. I would certainly say that the Black Album is not something that you can “make” happen. It automatically happens because everybody is just drawn to it and love it.

It’s a collection of songs and great melodies that’s undeniable. That’s the album people look to for their interpretations or renditions. Like if an orchestra wants to do a song or a fan on YouTube wants to do an interpretation with a strange instrument or a piano version. These wonderful melodies lend themselves from this album, and then the songs become even more famous because of all of these interpretations from people all over the world in all of these different countries. With so many great melodies and all of these great songs, that is going to automatically make this album stand out in the catalog of Metallica.

I think it took the diehard fans a bit to acclimatize the fact that [the album] wasn’t that rawness they were used to. But with the test of time, when they’ve seen the band play these songs many times, it fits right in with the early songs.”

Read more at Spin.

Metallica’s reissue of The Black Album and The Metallica Blacklist, that doesn’t even feature the band but their music – 12 songs covered by 53 artists – are out today (September 10th). Read more details about this special release, here.

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  • robert davenport on

    A classic for sure

  • Rattlehead on

    When I reflect on Meh-tallica’s Blah album, I am sadly reminded that one of the greatest thrash metal bands on earth at that time completed the greatest commercial sellout in heavy metal history.

  • Real Paul Stanley on

    I don’t get the hate for this record Rattle. I think it’s a great great record. What were they supposed to do, rewrite Justice, Puppets , etc, over and over? Many of my musician friends refer to it as a sellout and I simply don’t get it. I never will.

    • Dana on

      Hi Paul,

      On a semi related note (pun intended) nothing is a bigger sell out than Judas Priest’s Turbo…ugh. Over many decades, I have made peace with that record, but I will never consider that a true Judas Priest album.

    • RandyK on

      Dana, but on the plus side Turbo has been my bathroom break song for every Priest show I’ve been to.

    • Dana on

      LOL!!! I think you mean Turbo Lover?

    • Rattlehead on

      RPS, prior to the Blah album, Meh-taliica had released four stellar thrash albums, which each album growing in heaviness, complexity, and structure. At that time, they were one of the greatest thrash bands on the planet. Meh-tallica had a hardcore following of metal head fans who were passionate of this new sub genre of heavy metal music, and I was one of them. Thrash was, and still is, my favorite sub genre of metal music. The Blah album’s release completely changed Meh-tallica. The tempos were slowed down, the riffage stopped, the songs were shorter, and the vocals were more “sung”….all geared towards a goal to have “hits”. The Blah album got Meh-tallica a bunch of new fans who now were turned on to heavy metal. IMO, the Blah album isn’t even a metal album, but rather a hard rock album.

      Ever since the Blah album, Meh-tallica has never been the same. IMO, they’ve completely regressed. How this band continues to get celebrated considering they haven’t released a solid album in 30 years is amazing to me.

      Many consider the Blah album a “great” album, but I’m not one of them. That album forever changed a once great thrash band who appear to no longer have the desire to play thrash music.

    • RandyK on

      Correct Dana, I meant Turbo Lover. That’s how little I care about that album. Don’t know the song names. I could easily name all tracks from Sad Wings of Destiny or Stained Class.

    • Dana on


      I am with you a thousand percent.

  • Real Paul Stanley on

    Hi Rattle,

    I understand where you’re coming from and completely respect you. I think there are quite a few heavy numbers on the Black album. I do agree that it definitely was commercialized to sell more records which is why they do what they do for a living. Load, Re-Load & St. Anger are all very subpar records for Metallica in my opinion. But there are a lot of songs on those records that I like too. I think Death Magnetic and Hardwired are big steps up from those three records. I love thrash myself by the way. There’s a couple newer bands I really like called Enforced and Plague Years.

    Hi Dana,

    I like the Turbo record but I think Priest got caught up in the 80’s synthesizer keyboard stuff that was popular (unfortunately) at the time. Many artists were chasing trends (Kiss and Ted Nugent come to mind). But it’s a Priest record I don’t spin very often.

    • Dana on


      Not sure if Priest got caught up with the times and trends, or this was just something they wanted to try to diversify their sound by experimenting with the newest “technology.” As we know, Priest was always changing from album to album, but this was a complete 180.

    • Rattlehead on

      RPS, thanks for letting me know about those newer bands. I’ll have to check them out.

  • jeff weaver on

    I personally thought the album was very bland and unremarkable when it first came out and still do. However it got the name Metallica out of 15-17 year old boys bedrooms to a much wider varied audience for sure. Mission accomplished.
    As far as Turbo is concerned I sort of blame Tom Allom the producer. K.K and Glenn though guitar synthesizers were the future and wanted to embrace the technology. Its the producers job to not let the band go overkill on certain sounds, especially cheesy guitar synthesizers.
    I do prefer Turbo over Black Album though. Songs like Reckless are pretty good.

    • Rattlehead on

      Concur, I’d much rather listen to Turbo. And kudos to Priest for returning to their metal music after releasing Turbo, unlike Meh-tallica and their Blah album……

    • Dana on

      Rattle, lol!

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