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Metallica History – The 1990s

Metallica
Clay McLachlan, Getty Images

Riding the success of the 1980s, Metallica made a splash in the following decade with one of the greatest selling albums of all time, the 1991 self-titled disc affectionately known as The Black Album. Mix in a ton of awards here and there, a couple of worldwide tours, their first-ever box set release and a few more studio albums and fans have another decade of nonstop Metallica action.

1990

Continuing the new year tradition, members of Metallica played a few shows as Spastik Children. On Feb. 21, on the heels of losing their first Grammy Award nomination, Metallica picked up their first Grammy in the category of Best Metal Performance for their song ‘One.’ Months later, Metallica entered One On One Studios in Los Angeles to lay down the tracks for four new demos, including ‘Enter Sandman,’ ‘Sad But True,’ ‘Wherever I May Roam’ and ‘Nothing Else Matters.’ In October, Metallica recorded the demo for ‘The Unforgiven’ at Bayview Studios in Richmond, California. Two days later, on Oct, 6, the band began working on their self-titled album at One On One Studios. This was the first album Metallica recorded with record producer Bob Rock.

1991

Keeping the streak alive, Metallica picked up their second Grammy Award in the Best Metal Performance category for ‘Stone Cold Crazy.’ In April, Hetfield and Rock traveled to Little Mountain Studios in Vancouver, British Columbia, to continue working on their next album.A day later, Ulrich arrived at the studios. Within just a few days, the three guys wrapped up work at the Vancouver studios and traveled back to One On One to begin mixing the album. On June 16, the album was completed and hit store shelves on Aug. 12. The year also saw the release of two music videos, ‘Enter Sandman’ and ‘The Unforgiven.’ Metallica celebrated New Year’s Even with a show at the Tokyo Dome in Japan with a set that spanned their career, including songs like ‘Whiplash, ‘Creeping Death,’ ‘One’ and ‘Sad But True.’

1992

Showing no signs of slowing down, the band won their third Grammy Award for their self-titled album and were also nominated for Best Rock Song for ‘Enter Sandman.’ On May 12, to the joy of hard rock fans across North America, Ulrich and Guns N’ Roses’ guitarist Slash held a press conference to announce a tour featuring GN’R, Metallica and Faith No More. During a show in Montreal, Canada, Hetfield suffered serious bans due to confusion surrounding the band’s pyrotechnics. Nearing the end of the year, Metallica released ‘A Year and a Half in the Life of Metallica Part 1′ and ‘Part 2′ on Nov.17. This was a two-part documentary that followed the making of ‘Metallica,’ and also followed the band on their tour following the release of the album. The documentary was directed by Adam Dubin, who previously worked with the Beastie Boys on two of their music videos.

1993

Always a band to innovate and think of new things, Metallica decided to take over a record store in New York City on Jan. 21. This was the day that the ‘Metallistore’ cassette was released. The cassette included three songs from a performance in Russia in 1991, ‘Last Caress,’ ‘Am I Evil?’ and ‘Battery.’ Just a few days later, back in Los Angeles, Metallica won an American Music Award for Favorite Heavy Metal/Hard Rock Artist. Nearly 10 months later, the already legendary band released their live box set ‘Live Sh*t: Binge & Purge.’ This was Metallica’s first box set that included several live CDs, VHS tapes and collectible items.

1994
Metallica Woodstock '94
YouTube

A year after winning the American Music Award for Favorite Heavy Metal/Hard Rock Artist, Metallica were once again nominated for the same honor, but lost to Aerosmith. It only made sense that the two bands would meet again on Aug. 13 to headline the ‘North Stage’ at Woodstock ’94. Near the end of November, Metallica went into the studio to start work on their next album; after all, the band had been out on the road supporting the Black Album for nearly three years. The first demo recorded was on Nov. 28 and would later be ‘Wasting My Hate.’ Following that track, Metallica worked on demos of ‘King Nothing,’ ‘Devil’s Dance,’ ‘Fixxxer’ and ‘Hero of the Day,’ all of which had different names in early stages of recording.

1995

Keeping the demos coming, this year brought with it several more new songs from Metallica, including ‘Fuel,’ ‘Carpe Diem Baby,’ ‘The Memory Remains,’ ‘The Outlaw Torn’ and ‘Unforgiven II,’ among several other tunes. Entering the Plant Studios in Sausalito, Calif., for what they thought could possibly be a double-album, Metallica started work on their next studio record on May 1. On Dec. 13, on the heels of laying their latest demo down for ‘Low Man’s Lyric,’ Metallica took a break from playing their own, original music and began rehearsing for Lemmy Kilmeister’s birthday. Fortunately for a future release, these rehearsals were recorded. The following day, dressed as Lemmy and playing under the name The Lemmys, Metallica performed a six-song set at West Hollywood’s Whisky A Go Go for the legendary Motorhead frontman.

1996

On Feb. 1, Metallica wrapped up recording at the Plant Studios. After finishing the recording process, but before mastering began on March 15, Metallica were nominated for another Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance for ‘For Whom The Bell Tolls,’ marking the band’s fifth Grammy Award nomination. Just a couple of months after mastering began, the album ‘Load‘ was finished and ready to be released. First dropping in Japan, followed by a worldwide release outside of North America, ‘Load’ first got into the hands of fans in the United States on June 4. Exactly three months later, Metallica won an MTV Video Music Award for best Hard Rock Video for ‘Until It Sleeps.’ Nearing the end of the year, and riding the high of winning the MTV Video Music Award, Metallica were scheduled to perform ‘King Nothing’ at MTV’s Europe Video Music Awards. However, instead of playing the ‘Load’ track, the band decided to take the world by storm with their rendition of ‘Last Caress/So What.’ Because of this, Metallica were essentially scrubbed from all future European broadcasts.

1997

As if any hard rock fans were surprised, on Jan. 27, Metallica took home the American Music Award for Favorite Heavy Metal/Hard Rock Artist. A few months later, Metallica picked up where they left off with ‘Load’ and started work on ‘ReLoad.’ Oct. 1 marked the end of the recording sessions for their next album, and on Nov. 18, Metallica fans were given ‘ReLoad.’ Less than a month later, as the musical guest on NBC’s ‘Saturday Night Live,’ Metallica performed two tracks from ‘ReLoad’ including ‘Fuel’ and ‘The Memory Remains.’ Four days after playing ‘SNL,’ Metallica won the Billboard Music Award for Best Hard Rock Artist.

1998

Showing no signs of taking a break, Metallica joined together at the Plant Recording Studios to begin work on ‘Garage Inc.‘ This double-album would turn out to not only include several brand new covers including songs from Bob Seger, Black Sabbath, The Misfits and Lynyrd Skynrd, but it also includes a re-release of ‘The $5.98 E.P.: Garage Days Re-Revisited’ as well as several b-sides from 1984-1991. In addition, five Motorhead covers were included on the second disc (these were the covers practice and recorded by Metallica back in 1995). ‘Garage Inc.’ was released in North America on Nov. 24. A week later, ‘Cunning Stunts’ was released on DVD and VHS. This release included live concert footage and interviews with band members. ‘Cunning Stunts’ was directed by Wayne Isham.

1999
Metallica 'S&M'
YouTube

In February, Metallica were nominated for two Grammy Awards, taking home the award for Best Metal Performance for ‘Better Than You.’ March 7 brought with it more reasons to celebrate the legendary metal band as they were inducted into San Francisco’s ‘Walk of Fame.’ Willie Brown, the mayor of San Francisco at the time, proclaimed it the ‘Official Metallica Day’ in his city. As if fans needed any other reason to be proud of Metallica, the band received the Diamond Award from the Recording Industry Association of America for selling more than 10 million copies of 1991′s ‘Metallica.’ For fans lucky enough to be in attendance, on April 21 and 22, Metallica performed with the San Francisco Symphony, led by Michael Kamen, at the Berkeley Community Theatre. These performances would turn into ‘S&M,’ the live album that dropped on Nov. 23. On Dec. 8, Metallica took home two Billboard Music Awards, including Catalog Artist of the Year and Catalog Album of the Year. During the awards show, Metallica joined forces with New York City’s Orchestra of St. Luke’s and performed ‘Until It Sleeps’ on top of the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas.

Next: The 2000s

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