The 100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time

The most headbangable records ever, from Metallica's Black Album to Black Sabbath's 'Paranoid'

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Metallica, 'Metallica' (1991)

25. Metallica, 'Metallica' (1991)

Metallica's first Number One album came a decade into their career. On their self-titled fifth LP – whose nearly pitch-black cover design earned it the nickname "the Black Album" – the band took a 180 from thrash metal without abandoning their core ethos. For the album that would catapult the band into the rock mainstream, they turned to producer Bob Rock, whose work on Mötley Crüe's pristine and massive Dr. Feelgood caught Metallica's attention. With Rock's help, the band members honed a slower, more contemplative sound that stretched their musical range, and though the process of recording the album was often strenuous and fraught, their perfectionism created a monster. The LP features some of Metallica's most universally recognizable hits, including the nightmarish "Enter Sandman" and its iconic central riff; powerful and brooding ballad "The Unforgiven"; "Wherever I May Roam," where guitarist Kirk Hammett utilized a sitar-like guitar tone; and perhaps most strikingly, the delicate, acoustic-guitar-led "Nothing Else Matters." "I know we're Number One completely on our own terms," drummer Lars Ulrich told Rolling Stone at the time. "This whole thing was done our way. There is an inner satisfaction about that, to give a major 'Fuck you' to the business itself and the way you're supposed to play the game and the way we dealt with all that shit up through the mid-Eighties." B.S.

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