Once Upon a Time in the Top Spot: Metallica, Metallica

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Wednesday, August 31, 2016
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Once Upon a Time in the Top Spot: Metallica, Metallica

25 years ago today, Metallica landed atop Billboard’s Top 200 Albums chart for the first time in the career, but you may rest assured that it was not by any means for the last time.

After finding their first taste of mainstream success with “One,” the epic single from their 1988 album, …And Justice for All, Metallica were primed and ready to take their success to the next level, commercially speaking. Boy, did they succeed: their self-titled 1991 album not only topped the US charts, it remains one of the ten longest-running discs on that chart ever.

You can attribute part of the album’s success to Metallica making the decision to hire Bob Rock to produce them, resulting in a collaboration that blew the lid off rock radio. Not only was the album’s first single, “Enter Sandman,” a massive smash, but so were follow-up singles like “The Unforgiven,” “Nothing Else Matters,” “Wherever I May Roam,” and “Sad But True.” That said, the band and Rock definitely weren’t fast friends in the studio: the tension between was such that, by the time the album was recorded, Metallica had vowed never to work with him again. Clearly, they got over themselves, since Rock went on to produce all of their albums through 2003’s St. Anger, but flip-flopping on that decision probably had something to do with how successful Metallica ultimately ended up being.

Some years later, Kerrang! looked back at the Metallica album and said that it “propelled [the band] out of the metal ghetto to true mainstream global rock superstardom.” It’s pretty hard to argue with that description: “One” might’ve started the process, but it took that self-titled album to break the glass ceiling, leaving Metallica the opportunity to stab the competition with the glass shards and finally make their way to #1…or something like that, anyway.