It’s been thirty years since Metallica finally decided they had reached the peak of the thrash scene and opted instead to infiltrate the mainstream. To do this, they teamed with Motley Crue producer Bob Rock to give them a professional shine, gathered together their most accessible material to date, and dedicated themselves to perfected their studio performances. The result was Metallica, more commonly known as The Black Album: an hour of pummeling riffs, gigantic drums, nightmarish lyrics, and haunting ballads that very well could be the most influential metal album of the past three decades.
To show how many different artists were reached with its power, the band has compiled a massive compilation of 53 artists giving their takes on the album’s 12 songs. Entitled The Metallica Blacklist Album, all sales for the compilation will benefit 52 different charities.
Our first taste of the album was a ludicrously stacked version of ‘Enter Sandman’ that was ostensibly by Miley Cyrus but also featured contributions from Andrew Watt, Elton John, Yo-Yo Ma, Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith and Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo, which amounts to the most randomly assembled but awesomely executed lineup that I’ve ever seen.
Now, we’re getting competing takes of ‘Sad But True’ from American indie rock auteur St. Vincent and English pop-rock star Sam Fender. The two versions accurately summarise how two completely disparate artists can put their own unique spins on Metallica’s bludgeoning monolith of noise.
St. Vincent’s version is heavily electronic, more similar to her work on 2017’s Masseduction than this year’s dry and funky Daddy’s Home. Sinister and ominous, Annie Clark also imbues James Hetfield’s lyrics with an alluring persuasion, luring you ever closer into the darkness. Fender’s take, meanwhile, is a singer-songwriter ballad that removes any sense of menace or danger and instead hones in on the ache and sadness of the words. Two different artists, two different interpretations. It just goes to show how prominent Metallica have been in popular culture since the release of their biggest and best album.
The Metallica Blacklist Album is set for a September 10 release. Check out the covers of ‘Sad But True’ down below.