Metallica's 'Black Album' Sets New Sales Record
Metallica's self-titled fifth studio album (commonly referred to as "The Black Album"), already the best-selling album since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking sales in 1991, has become the first album to scan over 16 million units in SoundScan's history.
In addition to this milestone, "The Black Album" continues to hold the record for the most weeks spent on the Billboard 200 chart in the Nielsen SoundScan era. At 307 weeks on the Billboard 200, it is also the third longest charting studio album (following the transcendent releases Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon and Carole King's Tapestry) and the sixth longest charting album of any kind in Billboard history. A notable portion of those 307 weeks is the current run of 20 consecutive weeks that "The Black Album" has spent on the Billboard 200 in 2014. This is due in large part to the band's performance on the 56th Annual Grammy Awards on January 26th, followed two days later by the release of Metallica Through the Never on all home video formats.
Produced by Bob Rock, Metallica was released on August 12, 1991, and debuted at No. 1 a week after its release marking the band's first chart-topping album. It has since been certified gold, platinum, or multi-platinum in 34 countries, and received a Diamond certification in the United States in 1997 for 10 million albums sold. "The Black Album" also spawned five hit singles including "Enter Sandman," "The Unforgiven," "Nothing Else Matters," "Wherever I May Roam," and "Sad But True; all of which have earned gold, platinum, or multi-platinum certification by the RIAA.
Metallica toured for three years in support of "The Black Album", playing over 300 shows around the world, including the infamous Monsters of Rock show in Moscow in the fall of 1991 at Tuschino Airfield. The concert, billed as the first free, outdoor Western rock concert in Soviet history drew an estimated crowd of 1.6 million.
"The Black Album" earned Metallica some of the best reviews of their career. Rolling Stone hailed the album as one of the "Essential Recordings of the '90's" and said that the songs "seemed destined to become hard-rock classics." England's Q Magazine included the album in its "Best Metal Albums of All Time" and declared that the album "Transformed them from cult metal heroes into global superstars." Spin Magazine proclaimed the album a "burnished black gem," and Entertainment Weekly asserted in its review that "Metallica may have invented a new genre: progressive thrash."