The Metallica Blacklist

Various Artists

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The Metallica Blacklist Review

by Fred Thomas

In 1991, Metallica crashed into the mainstream with their fifth, self-titled album, sometimes known as The Black Album due to its sparse black album cover. The 12-song record represented a significant change in style for the band, from heady thrash to more commercially digestible forms of metal, and over the years it became one of the best-selling albums of all time. The Metallica Blacklist is an ambitious tribute to Metallica's best-loved material, collecting four hours of a wide range of artists covering the songs that made up the album. The 53 different interpretations of Black Album tracks include faithful metal renditions (White Reaper's chugging take on "Sad But True" is especially true to form), spiritual jazz (Kamasi Washington's spacy grooves on "My Friend Misery"), indie rock reworkings (Phoebe Bridgers' especially delicate reading of "Nothing Else Matters" and St. Vincent's hard-edged electro-rock version of "Sad But True" stand out), drum-n-bass remixes, and many, many other stylistic variations. The design flaw in The Metallica Blacklist is the arrangement of the track listing, sequencing the cover songs in the original running order of the album. The singles and better-known tracks were chosen most often, meaning the collection has six versions of "Enter Sandman," seven takes each on both "The Unforgiven" and "Sad But True," and a staggering 12 versions of "Nothing Else Matters" by everyone from Miley Cyrus (appearing along with Yo-Yo Ma, Elton John, and other friends) to My Morning Jacket to TRESOR to Darius Rucker and more. Listening to all the versions of a single song in succession, let alone the entire compilation, requires a level of commitment probably beyond even the most devoted fanatics. For this reason, the least-covered songs on The Metallica Blacklist stand out. Goodnight, Texas' woodsy version of "Of Wolf and Man" and Rodrigo y Gabriela's precision acoustic instrumental take on "The Struggle Within" are the only songs on the collection not covered by any other artists. The Metallica Blacklist is fantastic for cherry-picking tracks from your favorite artists or listening in on the more outlandish interpretations of metal classics, but taken as a whole, it's daunting to the point of making even the highlights difficult to appreciate.

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