Here's every song off Metallica's classic self-titled album, more commonly referred to as 'The Black Album,' ranked from worst to best by Evile's OL Drake.
The U.K. thrash group just released The Unknown, their sixth album and it's a bit of a change of pace for the group, still heavily influenced by Metallica, just in a different way than was most prevalent in their past. This record leans more into the stomping, groove-oriented riffing that dominates 'The Black Album,' so we invited the vocalist/guitarist to stack up all 12 tracks.
Regarding the new Evile record, Drake says, "The writing process for The Unknown was the same as always in Evile — each song starts with a "seed" (riff) and we grow it from there."
While sonic comparisons to 'The Black Album' don't require one to stretch their imagination or understanding of music, there's much more to it than that. The group's intent was also a bit similar to Metallica's after the band dropped the prog-thrash masterpiece ...And Justice For All, which was to do something they'd never done before.
READ MORE: The 10 Best Thrash Albums of the 2010s, by Evile's OL Drake
"The style is still Evile, we simply started to explore tempos we've never tackled before," Drake continues, noting, "We've always been either 500mph or mid-paced. Historically we've always done slower material (“Head of the Demon,” “Cult,” “In Memoriam”), we just never did much further exploration into those tempos. Metallica are always going to be an obvious comparison with us. I have no shame in admitting they're a huge influence, and why not? They've been my favorite band since I was young. Long live Metallica!"
See how OL Drake ranked all 12 'Black Album' songs further down the page.
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Evile, "The Unknown" Music Video
I was never a huge fan of this song apart from the brilliant solo by Kirk and the faster-paced "Go!" riff after it. The intro harmonies are an epic listen, though. I remember spending a lot of time on the pentatonic run down in the solo and excitedly showing my dad when I'd got it.
The only reason this song is so far down the list is that I love the ones above it more (obviously.) It's still an undeniable classic Metallica song and one of the few songs on the album that featured different tuning (“Sad But True” being the other). It would always be the song I got to — as a kid playing along to it — that would frustrate me because I'd have to change the tuning (as I wasn't very good at tuning back then.)
A multiple-guitar metal version of "America" from West Side Story as an intro to a track? Count me in. The title of the song taken from the Gadsden Flag (where the cover's rattlesnake is also lifted) makes for an epic, fist-thumping anthem. The only track on the album with a "triplet-feel" shuffle and a main riff that I can't help playing in soundchecks etc.
Another of the more uptempo tracks on the album and complete headbanger (if my doctors hadn't told me I've ruined my spine and shouldn't do it anymore.) A welcome bit of Bon Jovi talk box on the intro guitar and spat lyrics about some dickhead who thinks they're better than everyone.
My main love for this song comes from the swelling bridge section going into the clean twangy guitar part going then into the guitar harmonies and THEN into an epic solo. Can't forget Newsted's awesome bassline, which, chord/position wise, bears an honorable resemblance to “Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth).”
As a guitarist, this has always been a special track to me as it showcases Hetfield's downpicking more than on any other song on the album. An extremely cool song to learn and play, it’s a song about human existence and the universe. Structurally interesting from a songwriting perspective, and one of the first drum beats I ever learned on the desks/floor in high school; much to my teachers' joy.
This song hits all the metal spots for me. The Iommi note (flat 5th), the chug, Hetfield's bark and catchy melodies. Slightly more uptempo with a groove. One of my favorite parts often goes unnoticed, which is a clean guitar low in the mix in the middle bridge section. I can't help but hear Newsted howling, either (S&M version).
Recently called one of the greatest songs ever written by Elton John, it’s a beautiful song with a plethora of material for guitarists to work on. I don't think there's a guitarist in rock/metal who doesn't know how to play at least some of this song; the metal “Stairway to Heaven.” Also, Shakira did an excellent cover of this. Always a great penultimate live track. Admittedly something I often play when I pick up an acoustic.
The song of an entire generation. As much as a lot of people bag on this song, you can't deny its global appeal and reach. One of the best metal songs ever written and one of the best riffs ever written (by Kirk, nonetheless). The song you show people who don't understand metal to try and make them understand metal. The song my mum likes.
The best riff on the album is found here. No riff has ever come close. Lars' massive drum sound only lends to the beefiness and stomp of the riff, and not to mention the cheeky octave-down baritone guitar to thicken it up; something a lot of bands have done since and not told anyone; whoops. Whenever I hear this song it just takes me back to being a teenager and falling in love with heavy music.
An iconic song that encompassed everything Metallica was all about; life on the road. The tour for this album lasted 800 years, so the song was very fitting. As a musician, I was drawn to the chords in the verse and James' melodies soar through the changes perfectly. Some of Kirk's finest moments. The nuances in the main riff are often overlooked, and one of my favorite riffs of all time.
I think it would be hard to argue with this being the best song on the album. The songwriting throughout this album is excellent, but everything hits just right on this one. The vocal melodies, the lyrics/meaning, the guitar work, the timeless solo, the drum work. Definitely my favorite song on [editor's note: well-placed Spinal Tap reference incoming] Smell the Glove.