Looking back upon the making of the 1991 album and its aftermath, in conversation with Kerrang! writer Paul Travers, guitarist Hammett acknowledges that in ascending to music’s top tier, Metallica unavoidably cast themselves adrift from some of their long-standing core supporters. And he says that he understands why their great leap forward left some Metallica loyalists feeling abandoned and betrayed.
“All of a sudden we were thrown into a different league where we’re doing numbers like Guns N’Roses and U2, and it felt really strange,” Hammett recalls. “It was great, in that we were flying the flag for heavy metal, we were bringing our type of music to a lot of people that had not heard it all around the globe. But at the same time, a lot of our core underground fans, they thought they were losing us. And I can understand that. When a band goes from selling a million albums to all of a sudden selling 12 million albums, the feeling of intimacy with that band starts to erode. That feeling of intimacy with our core base kind of eroded.“
“But at the same time, we discovered this other huge audience of fans who totally loved what we were doing, and were ready to digest the rest of our catalogue once they discovered us via ‘The Black Album’.”
Hammett also speaks about fan reactions to Metallica’s fifth album, which is getting a huge re-issue on the band’s own Blackened Recordings label on September 10, in the new issue of Classic Rock magazine (opens in new tab), which is on sale now.
“We got a backlash,” he admits. “‘Oh, they’re not as heavy as they were, they’re fucking radio-friendly, little kids are listening to Metallica. What’s going on? Where’s my thrash metal band?’ To us we made a fucking great album of great songs, why don’t you like it?”
“Did we give a fuck? We gave a fuck for maybe five minutes.”