Fans love to debate the merits and demerits of Metallica’s discography. For some, their heroes career is clearly divided between the thrash albums of the ‘80s and the more mainstream and experimental efforts that followed. Others will tell you everything beyond debut album Kill ‘Em All just ain’t thrash enough, and there are even those who truly love St. Anger. In reality, it seems the clearest line of demarcation surrounds what came before and after 1991’s mega-selling Black Album. With that in mind, here are the Top 10 Post-Black Album Metallica Songs.
'Bleeding Me'From: 'Load' (1996)
We’ll start our list of the Top 10 Post-Black Album Metallica Songs with one of two doom-laden epics from the Load album — and the reason we’re giving “Bleeding Me” the slight edge over the similarly impressive “The Outlaw Torn” is because the former is really two songs for the price of one. Check out the nasty turnaround riff around the 4:45 mark and you’ll see what we’re referring to.
'Prince Charming'From: 'Reload' (1997)
Reload has arguably gone down as the most uniform of all Metallica albums, sonically speaking. Even St. Anger is arguably more diverse. But “Prince Charming” clearly stood out from the pack, and it didn’t even need Marianne Faithfull’s assist! Instead, this frantic nail-biter goes for the throat, never lets up and boasts some of James Hetfield's darkest poetry about good and evil.
'Sweet Amber'From: 'St. Anger' (2003)
While everyone was busy chalking up St. Anger’s sins, they seemed to overlook this diamond in the rough tucked away towards the album’s end. But “Sweet Amber” is aggressive, imaginative and unusually focused as one of the album’s shortest tracks (coincidence?). This may only mean that they had less time to derail it but, whatever the reason, this is one underrated song.
'Mama Said'From: 'Load' (1996)
Call it heresy, a travesty or just plain selling out; we call “Mama Said” a beautifully crafted departure that more than justified the risk involved in going there when it was recorded for the Load album. Hetfield had talked about his love of country music for years, and with “Mama Said” he let his fandom take flight, while simultaneously sharing some of the lingering trauma relating to his mother’s death with Metallica’s listeners.
'All Nightmare Long'From: 'Death Magnetic' (2008)
Metallica finally retreated to the musical foundations of their career with 2008’s Death Magnetic — rediscovering their long abandoned thrash metal form as though it were as simple and natural as riding a bike. And, among the many excellent songs conjured for the occasion, “All Nightmare Long” took this time-traveling approach even further by revisiting H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulu Mythos, and a related short story named The Hounds of Tindalos, in particular.
'Wasting My Hate'From: 'Load' (1996)
Proof positive that the simplest of songs really can be the best of songs sometimes, even where Metallica is concerned. Load’s musically relentless, lyrically spiteful “Wasting My Hate” mounts a mighty groove and holds on tight until it gets its point across. And that point, which was inspired by none other than country legend Waylon Jennings, is that time wasted on negative energy was time wasted looking for trouble that will find you anyway.
'Rebel of Babylon'From: 'Beyond Magnetic' (2011)
Released three years after Death Magnetic, the Beyond Magnetic EP came as a very pleasant surprise for Metalli-fans, who were already starving for new music from their heroes even if it came from the same recording sessions four years earlier. It helped that the songs in question proved so impressive, including what seem like a surprising selection for our list of Top 10 Post-Black Album Metallica Songs, “Rebel of Babylon,” But listen up and you too will agree this is a particularly memorable, multi-sectioned, Metalli-banger for the ages.
'King Nothing'From: 'Load' (1996)
Many of the folks who got all up in arms about the Load album because it wasn't similar to the Black Album should have had zero complaints about the borderline perfect “King Nothing.” Here’s a song that’s every inch as heavy, anthemic, infectious and generally well-rounded as any of the universal hits contained in Metallica’s none-more-black best-seller.
'The Day That Never ComesFrom: 'Death Magnetic' (2008)
Death Magnetic’s creative centerpiece, “The Day That Never Comes,” fused the best elements of the Black Album and Metallica’s thrash roots, sending diehard fans into literal fits of ecstasy (as expected) when it was unveiled ahead of the album’s release. Even better, it’s still a smoking tune all these years later, and the second half solo blitz unfurled by Kirk Hammett’s seemed like sweet revenge against his sidelining for the duration of St. Anger.
'Ain't My Bitch'From: 'Load' (1996)
So let’s wrap up this list of the Top 10 Post-Black Album Metallica Songs with what may just be the band’s all-time most badass tune, “Ain't My Bitch.” How anyone coming down from their Black Album daze could resist getting crazy-excited about Load’s opener is beyond us. All fighting words aside, this formidable head-banger, like all of those discussed above, is a loud and proud reminder of Metallica’s enduring genius — even amid the occasional display of flawed humanity.