To put this thirtieth anniversary into historical context, since its August 1991 release Metallica (affectionately known as “The Black Album” in the same way The Beatles had been dubbed “The White Album“) has sold an estimated twenty-two million copies worldwide. That is several million copies more than either Sgt. Pepper’s… or Abbey Road by the Beatles, or any Led Zeppelin album. In this classic rock interview with Metallica’s lead singer/songwriter James Hetfield and lead guitarist Kirk Hammett, we show how the band sits atop the family tree of hard rock/heavy metal evolution which you can trace back almost fifty years to Deep Purple In Rock and the first Black Sabbath album. Like AC/DC’s Back in Black a decade before, Metallica’s “Black Album” is the hard rock collection for people who thought they didn’t like hard rock.With writers at Rolling Stone magazine ranking it #252 on their Top 500 Albums of All Time, you would assume that Metallica (containing “Enter Sandman”,”The Unforgiven”,”Nothing Else Matters”,“Sad But True”) coasted unimpeded to this pinnacle, but quite the opposite is true.The traditional gatekeepers and kingmakers of rock respectability, including U.S. radio, the rock press, the Grammy Awards, and to a lesser extent MTV, all thought that by ignoring heavy metal that it would just go away. That conspiracy lasted a full twenty years.
“Conspiracy, I like that,” chuckles Metallica frontman James Hetfield. “That’s pretty spot on,” agrees lead guitarist Kirk Hammett. “It resonates within a lot of people, heavy metal and aggressive music. People hear it and can relate instantly because it strikes an (emotional) chord within them that they can relate to . ..It takes them away in a way that they want to be taken.” –Redbeard