Turn That Noise Down - Metallica

So many well-known albums turn 30 this year and Steve Taylor-Bryant and Susan Omand travel back to 1991 to revisit some of the sounds of their youth that made parents shout "Turn that noise down!" This week, Steve is back in Black [wrong band - Ed]...

The Black Album/self titled record with no cover design, whatever you want to call it, is in some quarters a stone cold classic that managed to take the impenetrable force of proper heavy metal and force into the ears of the mainstream pop and rock audience to catapult the band to fame and fortune, or it’s the worst thing to happen to proper heavy metal for the same reasons. I remember a lot of non-metal folk loving the Black album when it came out and remember my metal mates having mixed feelings about Hollywood production values of the record and the fact that people with short hair were liking what they heard. Whatever camp you fall in let’s all just be happy that we got the record at all because St. Anger proves that Metallica can bomb as well but every track on Black is an awesome listen.

The choice of Bob Rock as producer was the smartest move the band ever made as he took that incredible live energy they had and moulded it into lyrically and musically interesting directions, previous Metallica records were great but didn’t say much, were almost screamed, and very distorted on the levels. With Rock doing his thing the drums and the bass started to sound like the unit they were on stage, the guitars sounded musical and tuneful without losing the frenetic edge expected by fans, and Hetfield’s vocals made me reach for the album cover to see if the singer had been replaced. I guess what I’m saying is that this awesome loud bastion of thrash had some corners knocked flat and some professionalism bashed into them and what came out was lightning in a bottle.

There’s melodic ballads, heavier stuff, and some commercial stuff on Black and every track is worthy of a listen, it’s a greatest hits record combined with something new and, whilst My Friend of Misery and Holier Than Thou are two of favourites, it’d feel wrong if I didn’t leave you with this one…

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