One of the most important albums in rock and roll history, ‘The Black Album,’ has been a big topic of discussion recently. Lars Ulrich looked back at this legendary album, spoke about the difficulties of creating it back in 1991, and mentioned the tension Bob Rock caused within the band.
It’s safe to say that Metallica’s mainstream success began with ‘The Black Album’ when they switched from thrash metal to a more refined, heavy, and slow sound. The band had to go through many changes and get out of their comfort zone to achieve that. According to Ulrich, this genre switch happened because they noticed the crowd getting bored when they were playing the ten-minute title track ‘…And Justice For All.’
The band started to work with Bob Rock, the producer of Mötley Crüe, and with him, they started to get out of their comfort zone. The drummer stated in his recent interview that because Rock forced the band to change and pushed them at every chance he got, which caused arguments and tension between the band members.
Here is how Ulrich described working with Bob Rock:
“We’d never worked with a producer like Bob before, and we were very suspicious and uncomfortable being told what to do. Because Bob, in some way, represented everything that we’d tried to avoid for ten years, which was to have somebody try to force us to change. There was a lot of turmoil internally.“
In Metallica’s 1992 documentary ‘A Year and a Half in the Life of Metallica,’ the tension between James Hetfield and Ulrich was clearly seen when Ulrich asked the singer to do vocals for ‘The Unforgiven.’ Hetfield replied to the drummer stating that he should sing it himself if he wants to hear it with vocals.
Here is exactly what Hetfield told Ulrich:
“You want to hear it with vocals? Go sing it.”
At the end of it all, Metallica succeeded in making an unforgettable album. The band’s internal tensions, disputes, and efforts did not go to waste. The record became one of the best-selling albums worldwide. It also became the second longest-charting album in history by keeping its place for 550 weeks on the charts.