It is perhaps a strange thing to call an album that has sold over 16 million copies and been number one in 10 countries underrated. But ”Black Album” is, despite its huge success, underrated.
Criticism of the more commercial focus has been frequent among fans, nostalgics and random old school metalheads. At the same time, the broad masses have loved the record. So where do we land?
I think the answer is simple. ”Black Album” is brilliant.
First of all, is this perhaps the hard rock record of all time with the thickest sound? It completely explodes in the speakers. Perfection, based on what they wanted to achieve. Metallica’s 4/4 groove is admittedly populist and audience-friendly, but damn how they’re toying rock n ’roll with us. Rarely or never has easy-listening radio rock and stone hard metal collided in a more accomplished way.
My only objection is that there’s a small lack of song material to be able to categorize it as a perfect opus. The album is a typical ”half hits, half fillers” but with that said, I’m not the one who skips all tracks except Enter Sandman, Sad But True, Wherever I May Roam and Unforgiven – there’s quality in almost all the songs here. It’s some killer riffing in Holier Than Thou, Of Wolf and Man and Don’t Tread on Me, for example.
And it’s difficult to find obvious weaknesses at all. But I think there is a reasonableness in confirming (even if you’re a little tired of the obvious bestseller hits) that the record is somewhat bumpy and there’s some large class differences between the songs, even though though there’s nothing that’s bad here at all.
Why not a higher rating then? I think we have to find ourselves in that sometimes it’s just a matter of taste and that you don’t have to find any obvious weaknesses to justify your conclusion. There’s simply metal out there that suits me a little better, I guess it’s a bit straightforward, predictable and finely honed for me, but now I’m really struggling to find something, I’m a big fan of the record and I have no direct criticism, because for the right ears – this is a rightful masterpiece.
There’s a lot to celebrate here and it’s pretty silly in my opinion to call this sell-out and all sorts of other derogatory terms. It feels like these are arguments that are made when the music is too good to criticize, so then you go after the people.
In my opinion, it’s unfashionable to criticize bands that want to grow and try new things, however, the music should be criticized if it is bad (St. Anger). But that is not the case here. This is a timeless hard rock classic. And I need to add that Wherever I May Roam is one of my favorite heavy metal songs ever.
Best songs: Wherever I May Roam, Sad But True, Enter Sandman