Today, Metallica is a household name, which, especially considering the relatively low penetration of heavy metal music into the mainstream, is no small achievement. As the best-selling metal band on Earth, their music is commonly heard in TV shows, movie soundtracks, and video games.
This wasn’t the case for the first ten years of the band’s existence. Metallica’s first four albums garnered a significant following, but nothing like the success they would meet with the Black Album. The public response to Metallica changed dramatically upon its release in 1991, and the band has continued to sell out world tours ever since. The Black Album recently celebrated 550 continuous weeks on the Billboard 200, a record surpassed only by Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.1
The Black Album’s rare status as a heavy metal album that penetrated the mainstream is not the only noteworthy thing about it, however. It is, in many respects, an ode to individualist ideals. Its success in encapsulating these ideas in musical form and bringing them to a global audience is truly unique.
The first clue to the album’s philosophical leanings comes from the cover art. Although the album is officially self-titled, it’s universally referred to as the “Black Album,” a name that springs from the fact the cover is almost entirely black, save for two graphics: the band’s logo and a coiled snake. This is the snake from the Gadsden flag, a symbol with origins in the American Revolution, which often is associated with individual rights and opposition to tyrannical government. The Gadsden flag also features the motto “Don’t Tread On Me,” which is the name of the Black Album’s sixth track. . . .@Metallica’s Black Album exalts individualism, liberty, self-interest, personal development, and the importance of the reasoning mind. Click To Tweet