Former Metallica bassist Jason Newsted is among those celebrating today's (August 12) 25th anniversary of the release of Metallica, aka "The Black Album."
The set was a 16-time platinum monster and worldwide smash, spending 363 weeks on the Billboard 200 chart and winning the Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance. It was Newsted's second album after joining Metallica, and he tells us that the set -- a more straightforward and simplified version of the highly technical metal the band has made up until that point -- was the result of years spent honing the Metallica sound:
"There was absolutely a culmination that took place...The world was ready for it, and we were ready for the world...Everybody had built themselves up through hard knocks and whatever, scars and so forth, to be ready for what was coming...To create this thing that was bigger than all of us, right? Greater than any of us."
Newsted adds that producer Bob Rock played no small part in how the Metallica album came out sounding:
"He whipped us into shape about tonality of things and power of things and actual sound quality. We were ready for it. He was ready for us. The world was ready for the sound...I think everybody was ready. We pulled in somebody who could control us for a second, harness us for a second...Everybody put their nose to the stone and worked hard, like Metallica always did, and then we got the fruits from it."
The album, of course, was led by the first single, "Enter Sandman," another worldwide smash that Newsted says he never saw coming:
“To me it didn't register until we played it in front of people, really. The radio liked it and all that kind of thing, but until you're right there, until the crowd is louder than the P.A., doing that thing, that's when you figure it out...That's how you find out is everybody clapping along to it and singing along to it. That’s how you know you've succeeded."
Newsted left Metallica in 2001 to pursue other projects; He's currently launching a pair of new, acoustic-oriented projects, the Chophouse Band and the adjunct duo Would & Steal. Metallica, meanwhile, has one show on the books right now -- August 20 in Minneapolis -- and has reportedly finished work on its new album, which may be out this fall.
Gary Graff is an award-winning music journalist who not only covers music but has written books on Bob Seger, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen.