Metallica‘s self-titled fifth album, known as “the black album,” came out 25 years ago today (Friday, August 12th). The record made Metallica into superstars after being cult metal heroes for the first eight years of their career, even as it found the band slowing down and abandoning its thrash metal beginnings for a more mainstream, yet still heavy, style.
Drummer Lars Ulrich told Rolling Stone a while back about the record’s musical shift, “We felt inadequate as musicians and as songwriters (early in our career). That made us go too far, around Master Of Puppets and on …And Justice For All, in the direction of trying to prove ourselves. We’ll do all this weird-ass s*** sideways to prove that we are capable musicians and songwriters.”
James Hetfield said, “It was (once) a challenge for us to jam every riff in the universe into one song and make it work. Now we’re pretty much doing the opposite. Which is even more of a challenge.”
The black album debuted at Number One on the Billboard album chart and eventually sold more than 15 million copies in the U.S. and 22 million worldwide.