Metallica‘s popularity grew during the 1980s and seemed poised for mainstream success approaching the release of their fifth album, the eponymous Metallica (often referenced as “The Black Album”, an homage to This is Spinal Tap). The band used producer Bob Rock, who helped the band craft a more streamlined sound for the album’s songs. Rather than epic length songs with changing tempos, the songs were shorter and straightforward. Yet, the band’s dark subject matter and heavy sound remained.

The lead single was “Enter Sandman“, which dealt with childhood fears – including a nursery rhyme during the bridge. The sound of the song used a “wall of guitars” and Kirk Hammett delivered one of his best solos. Singer James Hetfield’s “booming” voice was featured in a memorable scene from the music video and sounds menacing throughout. The single was even a Top 20 hit.

The Black Album was a huge hit for Metallica, hitting number one across the globe and selling over 15 million copies just in the U.S. (the best-selling album since the date it was released). After the success of “Enter Sandman” the album drew another five singles, “Don’t Tread on Me”, the mid-tempo “The Unforgiven”, the ballad “Nothing Else Matters”, “Wherever I May Roam”, and “Sad But True”.