The Unforgiven

Composed by Kirk Hammett / James Hetfield / Lars Ulrich

Song Review by

While the first single from 1991's Metallica, "Enter Sandman," was a departure for the band in terms of length and subject matter, the band still sounded like Metallica. "The Unforgiven," on the other hand, felt different. Its crescendo intro dropping into a nylon-string guitar pattern was a wake-up call: Metallica had grown, and this, their second single, was the first indicator. Those who had the album were aware of the track's atmospherics; coupling the type of arrangement that had won the band droves of fans in the past with a lush, string-laden production added a dynamic sorely missing on ...And Justice for All. The lyrics -- patented cryptic James Hetfield-speak about being on the outside and how to cope -- work well with the grandiose scale of the music. But it is Kirk Hammett's solo that really brings attention to the work. For so long he had been the master of sheer speed, playing blazing solos without batting an eye. This time around he goes for a more guttural sound, building not only on the musical content but the lyrical as well. For Metallica, "Unforgiven" was proof that the bandmembers could walk the line between heavy and lush without stepping on their own feet.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Metallica 1991 Elektra 6:27
Year and a Half in Life, Vol. 1 1992 Elektra
A Year and a Half in the Life of...,Pts. 1 & 2 1999 Elektra
Metallica [2003 DVD] 2003 Eagle Vision
The Videos: 1989-2004 [Video] 2006 Warner Bros.