Black Album (Metallica album)
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“We didn’t sell out. We just wanted to make more money.”
“Why couldn't they sell out with me?! WAAAAAAA!!!”
“I like this album too.”
Metallica’s Black Album, released on August 12th 1991, is their fifth studio album and their first pop album. Though better than the “Load of Bull Spunk” albums and far better than “St. Trash Can" the album, the album disappointed many hardliner fans who wanted an album comprised of 10 “Dyer’s Eves”. With mega-hits like “Enter Sandman” Metallica reached their goal of mainstream success, which was merely a means to their ultimate goal of tormenting Dave Mustaine.
Knowing that they needed to change their style in order to reach mega-popularity, they embarked on a series of steps to reach their goal. First, they went to look for a bassist. Realizing that they already had one, James Hetfield asked “Hey man-where the hell have you been?". Jason, the bassist, replied “uh, you guys were totally abusing me and not letting me play. And when you did, you turned the bass real low, to make it seem I wasn’t even there”. "Oh yeah!" James replied.
Then, they looked for a producer. Metallica hired Bob Rock due to Lars Ulrich's artistic admiration of Motley Crue. Bob Rock was excited to work with Metallica, but he needed to lay some ground rules:
Bob Rock: Okay guys. There are some things you’re gonna have to do. One, you have to slow down. No more songs like “Battery”. They make people shit their pants, and no one likes to buy albums with soiled pantaloons. Second, you have to make shorter songs. If the song is too long, radio stations are not going to play them”.
Lars: But “Stairway to Heaven” was long!
Bob Rock: But Led Zeppelin was actually good. Third, you should work on some catchy hooks. Not Madonna catchy, but pop rock catchy. And no Lars, the intro to “Frayed Ends of Sanity” is not what I mean.”
Lars: Awww maaann!
Bob Rock: Also you might want to add a symphony or two. Just to rub it in the faces of those losers who wanted a thrash metal album.
Jason Newsted: Haha. That would be funny.
Jason Newsted: Sorry.
Bob Rock:So if you take all these recommendations, you guys will be on your way to mega popularity and making Dave totes jealous!
Kirk Hammet: This will sure get him back for fucking my girlfriend.
The only song explicitly about Mustaine was Enter Sandman. The rest of the songs cover an array of subjects from Werewolves to God to Newsted’s virginity. However, many of them can be additionally interpreted as jabs at Mustaine.
Enter Sandman: The first single was also the one song explicitly about Mustaine, as it described the nightmares he would get after hearing of Metallica's success. It was specifically designed for mainstream success, but what made it especially torturous was that it incorporated the "good night prayer", which was originally incorporated into one of Dave’s much crappier Megadeth songs. Because of Enter Sandman’s ubiquitous play on the radio, Dave would be constantly reminded of his failure to reach success with a good idea, as what happened with the riffs he wrote for the “Four Horsemen” and the entire “Ride the Lightning” album.
Sad but True: An exploration of a person’s dual nature: good v.s. evil. The song can also be interpreted as an eerie prediction of dumb Megadeth fans who call Metallica sell-outs but ignore the "Risk" album. If you listen closely you can actually hear lars shitting his pants behind the drum kit.
Holier than Thou: The song actually is about rock star rival Axl Rose. The song was originally gonna be titled “Good for nothing, pencil-necked, Ass-hole Diva”. Bob Rock, however, pointed out that the title made it way too obvious it was about Axl Rose.
The Unforgiven: This song is an auto-biographic piece on Lars' childhood. However, the lyric, “you label me/I label you/and I dub thee unforgiven”, was uttered by Lars to Mustaine after Mustaine called him a "freakazoid" upon discovering his Danish porn (euro stuff is crazy!!).
Wherever I may Roam: This song is about all the girls Metallica gets no matter where they go. There was of course, the exception of Jason Newsted, who didn’t get laid until 2005. The song mocks both Newsted and Mustaine, who, after forming Megadeth, got pussy very infrequently. This was the least offensive song for Mustaine, since he supplements his sex life with men.
Don’t Tread on Me: Originally intended to become the official song for the fiscally conservative “Tea Party” movement, Hetfield was very disappointed when he discovered the movement did not yet exist. So, Metallica decided to make it about Mustaine how he should never attempt to fuck Hammet’s girlfriend again.
Through the Never: An existential look at humanity’s place in the universe. Though it may seem that our most profound questions may go unanswered, we have “an obligation to survive” and we must continue on, through the never.
The song created substantial existential angst for Lars, to the extent that he complained after the song's recording “Can we go back to making fun of Dave again?” The rest of the band agreed.
Nothing Else Matters: This song is principally about falling in love and being honest with yourself and those with whom you have a relationship. The obvious wussiness of this song was designed so Metallica fans can play the song to their moms and say "SEE?! Not so bad, right? Can I go the concert now?". Fucking sellouts...
Of Wolf and Man: This is about a dude who turns into a werewolf. The topic for this song was picked out of a hat, since Metallica was running out of ideas at this point. Hammet said to a frustrated Hetfield, “Well at least it’s a better topic than 'Breadfan'. That song is REALLY retarded!”. Hetfield nodded his head in agreement.
The God that Failed: In this song, James continues the lyrical tradition of mocking his own parents. This time, he mocks the God that his mom dedicated his life to. James lyrically attacks God for failing to cure the cancer that he himself gave to his mom. During an interview with Kerrang magazine, God responded to the criticism saying: “I don’t give a damn about what Metallica says about me. Slayer is a 1000x the band Metallica ever could be. Now if Slayer bashed me, I would be devastated.".
My Friend of Misery: This song is actually the same exact song as “Holier than Thou”. The repetition occurred because the song originally was going to be an instrumental. Approaching the deadline, however, Newsted proclaimed his approval of the song: “This is like the best instrumental we ever did!”. Never wanting Newsted to be happy, Lars and James, scrabbled for lyrics, not realizing that they had already used the idea of bashing Axl Rose/Mustaine. Thus, no one was happy with the outcome, except for Bob Rock who wouldn’t know good music if it kissed him on the ass.
The Struggle Within: The album ends with a song about a man who fails to take advantage of his opportunities and stays at home doing nothing instead. James, here, is actually describing himself as a teenager: a kid who didn't want to do anything but be a rock star. "Well, it turned out okay for me" said Hetfield speaking about the song. "But lets face it. Not everyone is as awesome as me. Especially people named Dave Mustaine".
edit Commercial Success
Upon release, the Black Album met enormous commercial success. It hit number one in over two million countries, with the only exception being Denmark.The album went on to become the best selling album of all time, between 1991 and 2011.
On the back of its success, Metallica went on an epic three year tour around the world, selling out stadiums even in the third world countries like Russia. Metallica became so big, "His Holiness" Axl Rose invited Metallica to co-headline with Guns n' Roses, who were on the Use Your Illusion Tour at the time. At the insistence of Bob Rock, Metallica reluctantly agreed, but after only a month, Axl became so unbearable that James lit himself on fire so he could stop touring. After James recovered, the tour went on for a couple of more years, going on so long that by the end Metallica lost most of their hair.
Despite all this success, the real success came from the torture of Dave Mustaine. The Black Album was in fact so successful in torturing Mustaine, the Bush administration decided to use it in Guantanamo. Mustaine tried selling out on multiple occasions, (even crapping out a disco album!), but after two decades, he finally realized he will never reach the success of Metallica, and has found peace through Jesus, torturing puppies and clubbing seals.