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Metallica: Ranking Their Post-Black Album Work

When Metallica’s eponymously titled fifth studio album hit shelves on Aug. 12, 1991, fans, critics, and even the band’s Thrash metal brethren felt an instantaneous sense of betrayal. The pointed snarl and metal-up-your-a** belligerence that had come to define their sound during the mid-1980s had been transformed into mainstream merchandise suitable for weddings and Bar Mitzvahs.

What had originally gained traction through small clubs and tape trading was no longer the property of the subculture responsible for its inception, and, for an army of socially disenfranchised heavy metal fans, nothing could be worse than having one of their beacons stolen from them in the name of big business.

For a genre that had always championed individuality and anti-establishment rhetoric, the reality of Metallica joining forces with Bob Rock to create something palatable for the masses was the equivalent of President George H.W. Bush halting the Gulf War to admit

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