Three years after Metallica released their ninth studio album, 'Death Magnetic,' the band decided to venture down a new and very controversial road by unleashing 'Lulu,' their collaboration with Lou Reed. Released to very mixed reviews, Metallica's fan base was ready to get back to music they recognized from their favorite band. To the joy of fans around the world, and in conjunction with their four shows in San Francisco, Calif. celebrating their 30th anniversary, Metallica released 'Beyond Magnetic,' an EP of never-before released studio tracks from the 'Death Magnetic' recording sessions.
In their 30-plus year career Metallica has generated plenty of controversy and criticism. From accusations of abandoning thrash to cutting their hair in the early ‘90s to hiring a shrink (as documented in ‘Some Kind of Monster) to the audio mix on ‘Death Magnetic,’ it has been nonstop. But those controversies paled in comparison to the nearly unanimous negative response to ‘Lulu,’ their collaboration with Lou Reed.
After working with producer Bob Rock for four straight albums over the course of more than a decade, Metallica decided to switch gears with 'Death Magnetic,' their ninth studio album. Rick Rubin was tapped to produce the record and was a crucial in creating a new environment for Metallica to write and record in. Whereas with 'St. Anger' they all sat in one room and brainstormed song ideas on the spot, in front of each other, Rubin helped bring the band back to their original way of doing an album: write the songs first, then record the songs.
By the new millennium, Metallica had released seven studio albums, two official live albums and one album chock full of covers and b-sides. Each of these releases reached multiplatinum selling status, further cementing Metallica in the history books of rock and roll. As the 2000s began to take shape, though, that success looked like it might have an end-date in site. With Lars Ulrich alienating fans by taking a very public stance against the online music sharing giant known as Napster, James Hetfield spending nearly a year in a rehabilitation center for alcoholism and Jason Newsted being asked to leave Metallica, nobody knew what was in store for the legendary band.
By 1999, Metallica were the biggest metal band in the world, but continued to push musical and artistic boundaries. ‘S&M’ (Symphony & Metallica) would be their most ambitious project to-date.
Metallica released the five song covers album ‘The $5.98 E.P.: Garage Days Re-Revisited’ in 1987. Almost a decade later, the band had added several more cover songs to their repertoire, and the original E.P. was long out of print. They decided to put together a double album of cover tunes.
After waiting more than five years between ‘Metallica’ and ‘Load,’ fans of Metallica only had to wait 18 months for ‘ReLoad.’ The reason is because the band wrote more than two dozen songs for ‘Load’ and thought about doing a double album. Instead, they put out ‘Load,’ then came back and finished the rest of the songs from that session, which became ‘ReLoad.’
When a band has a successful album, the usual plan is to release another one with a reasonably similar sound a couple years later to capitalize on the previous record’s success and keep the momentum going. Metallica has never done it that way. They work on their own timetable, and generally piss off a portion of their fan base with every new release, but garner legions of new fans in the process.
In 1993, Metallica released the box set ‘Live Sh*t: Binge & Purge,’ which consisted of three CDs and three VHS tapes (kids, ask your parents what those are). Later editions would include two DVDs instead of the VHS tapes. The collection included over nine hours of material.
With 1991‘s self-titled release, also known as ‘The Black Album,’ Metallica went from being one of the most popular and successful metal bands to being one of the most popular and successful bands, period. It launched their career into the stratosphere.