How Metallica’s First “Pop” Song Changed The Band Forever
After releasing the complex and strongly progressive …And justice for all, Metallica believed that their only remaining challenge was to write shorter, more commercial songs. They succeeded beyond their wildest dreams with “Enter Sandman”.
In 1990, Metallica faced a crossroads. They’d built a solid following over the course of four albums, but their apocalyptic lyrics layered over sophisticated thrash metal had become…predictable. At a time when everything seemed to have been seen and heard before, there was a corner that Metallica had never ventured into. They realized they could make a record they had sworn as kids they would fight to the death never to make – something so overtly commercial no one could have seen it coming. Or as drummer Lars Ulrich put it, “Shove Metallica down everyone’s throat in the fucking world.”
In August 1990 frontman James Hetfield met with Ulrich to go through their usual pre-production demonstration process. They sorted through hours of a tape they simply called the “riff tape”, leading them to one of Kirk Hammett’s ideas inspired by Soundgarden. stronger than love album. The riff would lay the groundwork for their biggest hit of their career at that time, “Enter Sandman”.
Having already found the title of the song, Hetfield wondered if “Enter Sandman” could be about a dying baby in a crib. James put pen to paper on a story of a baby lying there, and the Sandman enters the night and kills it, but for Metallica’s fresh-faced new producer, it was too much. Bob Rock told Hetfield that his words about a baby’s death were too gruesome to be accessible, and had no real meaning to James. Additionally, the lyrics “Off to never land” Was at the origin “Disrupt the perfect family.”
James would eventually swallow his annoyance and return to the studio weeks later with rewritten lyrics. “I wanted more of the mental stuff where this kid is manipulated by what adults say,” Hetfield recalled. “And you know when you wake up with that shit in your eyes? It’s supposedly put there by the sandman to make you dream. So the guy in the song says that to this little boy and he freaks out a little bit He can’t sleep after that and it works the other way around.
According to Ulrich, “Enter Sandman” became the “foundation to guide the whole black scrapbook.” Released as a single on July 29, 1991, it became Metallica’s biggest song to date, marking the next step in their career.
“Enter Sandman”, however overexposed, is commercial heavy metal at its best. Metallica ventured into this unknown corner and made a commercial song that they swore as kids that they would never do, but by stepping out of their comfort zone and staying true to themselves, the world. welcomed “Enter Sandman” crammed into his fucking king throat.
How ‘Enter Sandman’ Changed Metallica Forever
Watch the full story of “Enter Sandman” in the video above.