Posted by: markfender | September 11, 2013

Headphone Diaries – August 12th, 1991

Remember when Metallica was good?



Yes, I just posted a big, black square as a picture.

With a name like “Metallica,” it’s a good thing that the band is the quintessential metal band. And they’re quite deserving of the accolade. They made five nearly perfect albums. The Black Album was the last of those albums. This album was their big break into the mainstream with songs like “Nothing Else Matters” and “Enter Sandman” making it big on MTV. It was more polished than their previous work with a much higher production value. Which made it kind of decisive amongst fans.

I was there on day one when this album came out. As all of us metalheads were. We’d been listening to the single of “Enter Sandman” for quite awhile and were a little concerned about the length of the song, but still liked it well enough. It wasn’t eight minutes long. What were we to think? It turned out that Metallica had recorded a bunch of radio-friendly songs with only “The Unforgiven” standing as a normal-length Metallica song and that one had acoustic guitars. What the hell was going on?

Turns out that making your songs radio-length will do a lot for your popularity as everyone ended up buying this album, even people who’d never listened to Metallica before. But even us long-term fans had to give it props. Sure, the songs were shorter than we were used to, but they were still pretty good. “Sad But True” ranks as one of my favorite songs from the band to this day. While I’ll always be more partial to Master of Puppets or …And Justice For All, Metallica remains in the pantheon of good Metallica albums.

Unfortunately, they decided to suck after this. All of their follow-up albums have been, frankly, terrible. James Hetfield stopped drinking or something and the whole thing has gone downhill. And, of course, those later albums are the ones that have won Grammies (Exception: “One”). Go figure.

Fun Fact: “Eye of the Beholder” off of …And Justice For All is one of the only songs I know that sounds better the shittier your speakers are. Something about the distortion between :49 and 1:10 just ratchets the tension in that song way up if your speakers are terrible. True story.

Did it age well? The production could probably be cleaner on earlier albums, but it still manages to channel the aggression of youth pretty well.

Should this go on your iPod? Did you notice I didn’t post any videos in this one? That’s because I’m pretty sure it’s already on your iPod.

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