Into the Black

The Inside Story of Metallica (1991-2014)


By Paul Brannigan

By Ian Winwood

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Into the Black begins on the eve of the release of Metallica’s massive breakthrough with the eponymous LP that became known as “The Black Album.” Suddenly, at the dawn of the ’90s, Metallica was no longer the biggest thrash metal band in the world-they were the biggest rock band in the world, period.

But with such enormous success came new challenges, as Metallica ran the risk of alienating their original fan base. They were beset by controversy over musical stylistic shifts, supposed concessions to the mainstream, even their choice of haircuts.

During this transformative era, journalists Paul Brannigan and Ian Winwood had unprecedented access to Metallica. They accompanied the band on tour and joined them in the studio, getting exhilarating eyewitness views into the belly of the beast. Together they amassed over 75 hours of interview material, much of it never in print before now.

Through changes both musical and personal, Metallica struggled to maintain their identity and remain a viable creative force. A ferocious battle with the file-sharing company Napster saw the quartet attract the worst PR of their career. Meanwhile, communication breakdowns between James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett, and Jason Newsted (who would leave the band in 2001) led to fierce internal arguments, as laid bare in the controversial documentary Some Kind of Monster.

At the end of the century, Metallica had appeared to be a band teetering on the brink of self-destruction, but through setbacks and struggles they endured and thrived. From Load, Reload, and Garage, Inc. to the stunning return to form in Death Magnetic and the massive tours that accompanied them-including the real story behind the Big Four shows-Into the Black takes readers inside the heart of Metallica and concludes the saga of one of the greatest rock bands of all time.



You would be hard-pressed to find a better example of a self-fulfilling prophecy than Metallica's tour of European festivals in the summer of 2014. With James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett and Robert Trujillo having appeared in this setting on no fewer than thirteen of the past fourteen summers, the notion that these are 'special occasions' is obvious nonsense. Realising this, the band devised a gimmick that they no doubt believed to be a Unique Selling Point. Anyone buying a ticket for the concerts was given the opportunity to compile their own bespoke set list by voting for the songs they wanted Metallica to play.

The results made for depressing reading. On each of the sixteen European Metallica By Request dates, fans nominated 'Master of Puppets' as being the track they would most like to hear. Below this the choices were similarly uniform and familiar. 'One', 'Battery', 'Enter Sandman' and 'Fade to Black' were titles that attained top five status in towns and cities from Stevenage to Warsaw.

That each selection represents the highest standards of modern metal is not in doubt. It's just that, really, the songs are no longer actually all that modern. Not just that, but Metallica play these tracks all the time anyway.

That fans would vote for a set list that is the same as it would have been without the poll is perverse.

If you were hoping to see Metallica in Europe in the summer of 2014 and to hear, say, 'Bleeding Me', 'No Leaf Clover' or 'All Nightmare Long', hard lines.

In once more pushing such big-hitters to the fore, lesser heard but equally fine compositions are again punted into the long grass. At least as far as the fields and stadiums of Europe are concerned, it is a case of Metallica having boxed themselves in to such a degree that their audience no longer cares to think outside of it.

The self-fulfilling prophecy. The band as brand.


To find the answer as to why this might be, one must follow the money. Asked by Rolling Stone's David Fricke if these days Metallica toured simply to pay the bills, Kirk Hammett responded with a straight answer.

'That's every year,' he said. 'The cycles of taking two years off don't exist any more. We were able to do that because we had record royalties coming in consistently. Now you put out an album, and you have a windfall maybe once or twice but not the way it used to be – a cheque every three months. [So instead] we have to go out and play shows, and we're totally fine with that.'

James Hetfield put this in even starker terms.

'We're doing what we can to keep things alive here,' he said.

Despite a scarcity of new music, in recent times Metallica have kept themselves busy. In 2012 and 2013 the band conceived and executed their own bespoke festival, the Orion Music + More event, a jamboree comprising many different styles of music as well as numerous exhibitions and installations. Staged first in Atlantic City and then in Detroit – two of America's less salubrious cities, to be sure – each year the event was a critical smash and a commercial failure.

Orion Music + More, Hetfield explained, was 'a disaster financially and it's not able to happen again because of that'.

Despite having sold 110 million albums over the course of a thirty-three-year career, it is possible that since 2010 Metallica have lost more money than they have made.

Fans in all but a handful of cities in the US might well wonder just what has happened to a band about whom they might still be obsessed. The quartet do not perform at as many festivals in the US as is the case in Europe because there aren't the number of festivals at which they can appear. The solution to this problem is obvious – they could head out on tour. The reason Metallica have done not done this (or at least have not done this for five years now) is because they are afraid to.

'I'm not sure what's going on in the States as far as rock and metal goes,' was Hetfield's take on this wretched state of affairs. 'Concert-wise … there's not really any willingness to get a big show out there and make it worthwhile to actually get out and play. You see other bands gathering up six different bands just to go out and play. It's pretty tough in North America.'

Here James Hetfield is missing the point. The group to which he has dedicated more than half of his life were never the same as 'other bands'.

That was the point.

But is it still?

In 2014, does the bell now toll for Metallica?


The period covered by Into the Black is the most fascinating of the band's career. With the exception of 'The Black Album', the years 1991 to 2014 may not always have been the quartet's finest hours in terms of music – although much of their output during this time is far better than it is credited with being – but when it comes to derring-do, grand gestures, collective insanity, creative chutzpah and the talent and will required to conquer a planet, it is a tale that stands equal to any rock soap opera of the past 40 years.

The authors of this book were on hand to witness many of the events described within. It has been more than two decades now since we first interviewed Metallica, and in the intervening years we have found our often disbelieving eyes in their company on at least forty occasions (not to mention innumerable telephone interviews). Much of this book is written from the point of view of these first-hand accounts, as well as from hours of taped interview footage.

Despite evidence to the contrary, it remains the opinion of this book's authors that it would be unwise to write Metallica off entirely. Over the years the group's dynamic might have changed – how could it not? – just as its appetite for new music has been distracted by folly. But more than any other band of their size, Metallica are still capable of wild and courageous ideas, and of provoking genuine surprise. And who knows, if the evidence of the music on 'Lords of Summer', the sole new track aired on the By Request trek, can be trusted, it might even be that James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett and Robert Trujillo are once more able to locate the musical greatness that once flowed so naturally from their fingertips.

But at such a late hour, such an outcome is not certain. Until it is, the question remains: is there life in the old gods yet?


A queue of rock fans gathered on West Hollywood's fabled Sunset Strip is hardly an occurrence likely to make the evening news. But as a crowd convened on the evening of Sunday August 11, 1991, observers with a keen eye for detail would have noticed something different from the norm. Those waiting in a more or less orderly line on this notable thoroughfare were different from the usual faces familiar to 'The Strip'. For although this was still a rag-bag collection of young rock fans, these were people – mostly male – who looked as if they'd just come from a shift at a blue-collar workplace rather than a day spent in the company of stylists whose techniques suggested artisans who were losing their eyesight.

The hour was just a cigarette-break shy of midnight. For the first time in this new decade, Metallica were about to unveil a new studio album, a self-titled collection that had already come to be known as 'The Black Album'. As if this alone were not a cause for excitement, the band's decision to make their fifth album available to fans living in or near Hollywood gave the introduction of what was just one of literally hundreds of CDs released that year the feeling of a Special Occasion.

At one minute past midnight, fans were let loose on the shop floor of the West Hollywood branch of Tower Records, a one-storey building that looks more like a prefab shack than an emporium of the recorded arts. In 1991 'Tower on Sunset' was North America's most iconic record shop. As is the case with so many other record shops all over the world, today it is closed for business.

The idea of allowing patrons to purchase an album from midnight on its day of release was not new, although it was still relatively unusual. In 1987 U2 had introduced their blockbusting fifth album, The Joshua Tree, at the branch of Tower Records in South Kensington, London. The difference here, however, was that while fans of the Irish band comported themselves in a manner befitting those whose tastes ran to thoughtful and considered Celtic rock, Metallica's crowd behaved like a performers in a drunken am-dram production of Animal House.

Come the witching hour the scene within resembled a zoo in which the animals had been freed from their enclosures.

A film crew was on hand to capture the chaos. Hands lunged towards boxes of CDs and cassette tapes as sales registers beeped like a symphony of smoke alarms. The album was also being pumped at a volume sufficient to dent skulls through speakers positioned throughout the air-conditioned store. For those not gathered on Sunset Boulevard, local rock radio station K-ROQ broadcast news of the good-natured stramash.

For Metallica themselves – and for Lars Ulrich in particular – the symbolic chutzpah of this event would not have gone unnoticed. In August 1991 it had been almost nine years since the group had packed up their possessions and left Los Angeles for permanent exile in San Francisco. During their short LA existence the group had performed for small crowds in the city in which they had formed, their basketball boots finding little traction on LA's unforgiving thoroughfares. Metallica might have made their debut live appearance in West Hollywood (a two-set stand that comprised only the band's third and fourth concerts) supporting Barnsley's entirely unreconstructed Saxon, but in the time that had elapsed since this 1982 performance at the Whisky a Go Go – a club situated just yards from Tower Records –the quartet had not once returned to 'The Strip' as a live act. In these earliest of days Los Angeles had dismissed Metallica with the gravest insult in its arsenal – it ignored them.

'It was very lonely being Metallica in LA in 1982, that I can tell you,' was how Ulrich recalled those times.

But if his band had lost the battle with the city of Los Angeles, Lars Ulrich, James Hetfield, Kirk Hammett and Jason Newsted were about to win the war.


Clutching a copy of 'The Black Album' in his hand, inside Tower Records a young fan breaks with convention. Rather than looking into the camera pointed at his face and screaming the word 'Metallica!' with as much force as his lungs will allow, instead he offers a thought that neatly encapsulates one of the core beliefs of millions of the band's fans.

'Finally,' he says, 'someone in metal is saying something right.'

With their fifth album, Metallica were also trying something new. 'The Black Album' saw the quartet reverse their juggernaut from out of the over-developed cul-de-sac in which they had parked themselves (and, seemingly, bricked themselves into) with 1988's constipated … And Justice for All set. This they did with a root-and-branch re-imagining of their songs, their style and their sound.

That this was so was established even before the album was released. As the one member of Metallica who can be said to have had 'a vision' – actually, 'the vision' – of what his band's next collection should sound like, Lars Ulrich also understood, as if by instinct, which song from the album should be its calling card. Almost a quarter of a century after the fact, it is unimaginable that the group would have chosen any song other than 'Enter Sandman' with which to kick open the doors of the Nineties. But the truth is that this was not something apparent to everyone in and around the Metallica camp. Towards the end of 'The Black Album's torturous nine-month recording sessions, Ulrich and Hetfield accompanied producer Bob Rock to a bar in Vancouver and were treated to the following opinion.

'You've got an incredible album,' said the Canadian. 'You've got, as far as I'm concerned, five or six songs that are going to be classics, both with your fans but also on the radio. But the first song [from] this album that should come out is "Holier Than Thou".'

Wrong. Dead wrong. By opting to introduce 'Enter Sandman' – a single which stage-dived its way to the top five in the UK singles chart – to fans and listeners of modern rock radio (as well as, emphatically, Music Television) Metallica treated the world to the most sumptuous and seductive introduction to a hit single since … actually, there is no since. With a growing sense of menace that builds the stage on which the signature riff penned by Kirk Hammett can shift air on an industrial scale, within days of becoming public 'Enter Sandman' had established itself as the first Metallica song to become known by people who previously had never before heard the group's name (and in many ways remains so to this day). With James Hetfield's masterful ear for fitting lyrics precisely into the available space, the words 'exit light' and 'enter night' evoke a man who sounds as if he is in control of such things. The effect is a minimalist chorus of maximum force. In little over five minutes, here Metallica had learned valuable new lessons in ways of harnessing a power that in the past had sometimes overwhelmed them.

On a musical level 'The Black Album' is unfailingly sophisticated. In each of the collection's twelve songs Metallica fight and win a battle against every instinct they had indulged on … And Justice for All. In place of tempo changes and the kind of endless curiosity normally reserved for police officers armed with a search warrant, the authors put their shoulders to creating aero-dynamism and the kind of spacious throb that comes packed with atmospheric pressure.

The word for all this was 'groove', which Lars Ulrich used in interviews at the time at least as much as he used his other favourite word, 'fuck'. Examples of this litter the album, from the cripplingly heavy 'Sad But True' to the monumental 'The God That Failed'. Even the almost uniformly mid-paced nature of 'The Black Album' served the band well by creating the impression that this was but one piece of music, a template of varying moods separated only by one or two seconds of silence every five or six minutes.

While this was the first Metallica album to sound entirely effortless, the truth is that it was anything but. Bob Rock's jibe during the recording process, that 'their friends in Anthrax and Megadeth' would tease them if they heard too much melody on the album, might have been deliciously barbed, but the producer's efforts in translating his charges' industrial strengths into an organic and magnificent whole were not without reward. True, 'The Black Album' was a release that cost a million dollars to record, but the results make this (at the time staggering) amount sound like a bargain. And while Metallica's fans and contemporaries might have questioned (at tireless length) the group's decision to employ 'pop metal' producer Bob Rock in the first place, the band themselves were free of doubt. As Hetfield explained, it was all about the sound. Even when working with bands whose music stood diametrically opposed to his own (such as was the case with Bon Jovi and Mötley Crüe), Rock's work thundered and shone.

'The sound of the albums was great,' he said. As for everything else, he explained, 'The songs were crap and the bands were fucking gay.'


Lars Ulrich was in Budapest when he learned that 'The Black Album' had walloped its way to the top of the US Billboard album chart at the first time of asking, and where it would remain for the next month. Ulrich and his band mates were on tour as special guests to AC/DC on the Monsters of Rock caravan when he learned of his group's first no. 1 album anywhere in the world. In his room a fax arrived from the band's management company, Q Prime, in New York City. It stated, simply, that Metallica were atop the Billboard Hot 200. Ulrich considered the piece of paper he now held in his hand and wondered what it was that was delaying the attendant fireworks and marching band.

'You think one day some fucker's gonna tell you, "You have a no. 1 record in America", and the whole world will ejaculate,' he says. 'I stood there in my hotel room with this fax [which read] "You're number one" and it was, like, "Well, okay." It was just another fucking fax from the office.'

Alongside its success in the US, 'The Black Album' also debuted at the summit of the charts of no fewer than seven other countries – the UK and Australia among them – and was top five in a further five nations. By the end of the decade, Metallica was the eighth-best-selling album of the Nineties in the US, having spent more than four and a half years on the Billboard listings.

Not everyone could be said to be overly chuffed with what Metallica had achieved, though. Rock's joke about irate peers crying foul had a predictably prophetic ring. As has been seen, this was a group that was not only viewed as having responsibilities to their own artistic instincts (the only thing that mattered) but also a duty of care as standard bearers for a now rapidly stagnating thrash metal scene, as well as God knows what else. The response from old friends rapidly disappearing in Metallica's rear-view mirror may not have been universally dismissive, but much of it did carry with it what must have been for its targets an infuriating subtext of class treason.

Having gathered his thoughts for at least ninety seconds, Dave Mustaine offered his view that 'The Black Album' featured just one interesting song, this being 'The Unforgiven'. From the genre's noisiest outpost, Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo put down his drumsticks in order that he might throw his copy of Metallica's latest album down the stairs – literally.

'I can definitely understand people going, "Oh, 'Enter Sandman', 'Nothing Else Matters' – what happened?",' Lars Ulrich later reflected. '[But] if we had've made … And Justice for All [Part] II, that would have been the sell-out … We had a fear of being stuck. With some of our peers we saw that there was a Status Quo element that we saw was not for us.'

Metallica's capacity to disassociate themselves from hotbeds that were now leaving them cold remains unmatched. When it came to thrash metal, the notion that the genre had run its course was confirmed by the very fact that so many of its practitioners had so quickly come to adopt the reactionary and conformist mindset that their genre had challenged just a few years earlier. More than this, though, was the question of why on earth Metallica would wish to associate themselves with a community in creative decline? All of this stuff was in the past; while the future was one of open water and endless space.

Released in an extraordinary period for American rock – a six-week span that saw the release of Nirvana's Nevermind, Pearl Jam's Ten, Red Hot Chili Peppers' Blood Sugar Sex Magik and Guns N' Roses Use Your Illusion parts 1 and 2 – with 'The Black Album' Metallica went from being the world's most commercially significant cult band to being a mainstream concern.

But by coming to dine above the salt, the band learned quickly just how much things had changed. Despite having spent eight years talking to members of the press, in 1991 Ulrich discovered that these efforts counted for nothing. The truth was, there remained hundreds of journalists and publications that knew nothing of metal's now all-conquering heroes.

It seems surreal to recall these times but, in the days before the Internet, entertainment reporters were reliant on two or three sheets of paper supplied by a band's record label to provide them with a potted history of the group to whom they were about to speak. In the case of Metallica, it seems that some writers failed even to manage this. With a phone cradled to his ear, it was with equal measures of bewilderment and amusement that Ulrich noticed that many publications believed 'The Black Album' to be a debut.

Meanwhile, though, a better class of opinion-former was beginning to take note. Metallica being at no. 1 in the US meant attention from that country's pre-eminent music publication, Rolling Stone. While it would be wrong to say that the magazine founded by Jann Wenner in 1967 did not write about metal bands – Mötley Crüe, for one, had in the past graced the front page – given the choice, they would rather not. It is, though, to the magazine's credit that when it came to Metallica its editorial team recognised something different from the norm. That this was true had been signalled by a four-star review of 'The Black Album' that treated the collection with the respect it deserved, while avoiding exit-strategy caveats concerning the genre it represented.

Not content with this, Rolling Stone also placed Metallica on their cover on not one but two occasions during the album's two-year cycle. The first story came in the weeks following the CD's release, the point at which many in the wider musical world were still rubbing their eyes and attempting to make some kind of sense of the hairy, unsmiling men staring out at them.

'I know there were a lot of bands that went, "Oh yeah, Metallica – they sell a lot of records but they can't play or write songs,"' reported a gleeful Ulrich. 'I was just reading an interview with [The Cult front man] Ian Astbury where he said that going to a Metallica concert was one big wanking session with all these guys jerking each other off – and where's the femininity? Well, excuse me! So this is a big "Fuck you", not especially to Ian Astbury, but for all those people who felt that way for years and years, who came up and smiled to our faces, but as soon as they walked away they were laughing at us.'

Elsewhere, while Jason Newsted confessed, 'I never thought we'd have a no. 1 album playing the kind of music we do,' James Hetfield expounded on the notion that his band no longer felt compelled to defend their territory like wolves. Now, he explained, they were merely Dobermann Pinschers. 'We're just a little more confident,' was his opinion. 'We're not afraid to hear a suggestion and adapt it to our thing.'

'Before we didn't want to hear it,' he added. 'Now we'll hear it [and] then we'll say, "Fuck you!"'

For Rolling Stone, Hetfield was now a Person of Interest, and it was to the front man alone that Metallica's second Rolling Stone cover feature was dedicated. In a marriage of words and pictures that did everything right, the magazine showed just why it had maintained its position as market leader for more than a generation. The front cover was a master class. Shot by the Texan-born portrait photographer Mark Seliger, the image that screamed forth from magazine racks the world over saw a topless James Hetfield standing on flat and barren earth, his legs astride and teeth bared. He holds a black Gibson Explorer guitar next to a headline that reads, 'The leader of the free world speaks.'

With such a brazen statement, Rolling Stone recognised Hetfield as being a man of substance, if not always wisdom. Just as millions of metal fans suddenly found themselves drawn to Metallica's lyrics in a way that had never before been the case for any band of their kind, so too Rolling Stone recognised deep waters when they saw them. But while many fans of the band listened to the lyrics on 'The Black Album' and heard the voice of God, this was the God of the Old Testament. Sounding like a man who carries a gun, on songs such 'Wherever I May Roam' ('carved upon my stone, my body lies but still I roam'), 'Of Wolf and Man' ('I hunt therefore I am, harvest the land, taking of the fallen lamb') and 'The God That Failed' ('broken is the promise, betrayal, the healing hand held back by the deepened nail, follow the God that failed'), Hetfield gives the impression of a man who has taken the most fundamental of American principles and subtly adjusted it to his own ends: Give him liberty, or he'll give you death.

This motto was propelled recklessly to its logical conclusion on the most misguided – and, actually, most misunderstood – track on 'The Black Album', the hawkish 'Don't Tread On Me'. The point the song makes is simple, and not without some kind of logic – the most reliable way of maintaining peace is to make sure that one is always primed for war. This hard-headed outlook, however, is not the song's real problem. The problem is one of jingoism. The lifting of Leonard Bernstein's melody from the West Side Story song 'America' signals trouble only a few seconds after the song has started. But whereas West Side Story lyricist Stephen Sondheim pirouettes around the original melody with phrases such as 'automobile in America, chromium steel in America, wire-spoke wheel in America …' James Hetfield has only gracelessness to offer; not so much wire-spoked wheel as a tin ear. 'Love it or leave it,' he says of the country of his birth, as if these were the only two options available. He also speaks of liberty 'shining with brightness', which, to be fair, is a lot more impressive than a beacon of hope that shone with darkness. But just as the cliché and nonsense running wild through the song's verses threaten to torpedo 'Don't Tread On Me', the song reaches its conclusion in a chillingly convincing manner. As the music swells beneath him, Hetfield warns, 'touch me again with the words that you will hear evermore' before adding in a manner befitting a man with whom even the hardiest of fools would hesitate to tangle, 'Don't tread on me!'

On the evidence of this, one might assume that the safest way of speaking to Hetfield might be from behind bullet-proof glass. Appearances, though, often deceive, and the occasion of the Rolling Stone cover feature was the first time he had been subjected to the type of questions asked by a magazine that interviewed not just rock stars but also presidential candidates.


  • Neufutur Magazine, 2/25/15
    “You'd be hard-pressed to find a more definitive scholarship of Metallica, one of metal's most polarizing bands, than the massive two-volume set by music journalists Paul Brannigan and Ian Winwood…The duo have a knack for giving an insider's view of the band without slipping into biased fawning…Regardless of how you feel about Metallica's music, through their conversational writing style and exhaustive research, Brannigan and Winwood have managed to pull together such a compelling look at the band that even their biggest detractors would have a hard time putting the book down.”

    Internet Review of Books, 3/27/1
    “This book will no doubt appeal to those who like Metallica.”, 12/30/15
    “If you've read part one, you'll like want to tackle part two. The book also stands on its own.”
  • Oakland Press, 12/19/14
    “Covers some dramatic years…An illuminating read.”

    Milwaukee Shepherd Express, 12/24/14
    “Written with piercing British wit and critical acumen.”

    No Echo, 1/14/15
    “Offers up an exclusive look inside Metallica's career in the last three decades, through the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-inducted group's soaring highs and crushing lows. Even if you've followed Metallica closely since the early '90s, Into the Black delivers the kind of insider knowledge only members of their inner-circle would normally be privy to…A must-own for any hardcore fan.”

    Times of London, 1/10/15
    “This story will survive like their music, because few testimonies to the psychopathy of rock bands have been as witty, literate and loving.”

    TeamRock, 12/19/15
    “A good and thought-provoking read.”

    Portland Book Review, 1/6/15
    “If you're any kind of fan of Metallica, then you must read Into the Black.”

    This Is Books' Music, 1/4/15
    “A worthy book for those who like and love Metallica.”

    The National (United Arab Emirates), 1/8/15
    “Erudite and witty…Anything but hagiography.”
  • New York Post, 11/5/14
    “Spills everything including the bad-boy days and bad haircuts.”, 11/6/14
    “A readable, engaging biography.”

    Parade Magazine, 11/16/14
    “Authors Paul Brannigan and Ian Winwood detail how one of the world's biggest metal bands was forged.”

    Dead Rhetoric, 11/18/14
    “Written in an articulate, vocabulary-enhanced method (read: both gentlemen have a marvelous grasp of the English language), the way in which this era (or ‘eras') of Metallica is presented is that of respect, and at times, with a critical eye…In totality, a marvelous read, probably one of the best on the band.”, 11/20/14
    “With comprehensive analysis of Metallica's artistic development and songs, and a walk through the evolution of collections like ‘Death Magnetic,' Brannigan and Winwood shed light on the Hall of Famer's highs and lows on the rock and roll world stage.”

    The Real Rene, 11/22/14
    “A well researched book…Paul Brannigan and Ian Windwood were present at a lot of Metallica's most famous moments and have a tremendous collection of interviews with all the members of the band…A really good book for any Metallica fan, and if you are not a fan, well get this book and be educated.”
  •, 2/2/15
    “This book actually has a great deal of insight to offer its readers because the authors actually were physically present and granted behind-the-scenes access to some very private and important periods in the band's career…[Brannigan and Winwood] really dug deep into analyzing the major events, and did not just note them in the course of the book's timeline…[An] incredible book…The epitome of what any book chronicling a band's history should be modeled after.”

    Midwest Book Review, February 2015
    “Provides a fine survey of the band's evolution…Chapters analyze Metallica's development, its songs, and its recordings and make for a powerful survey recommended for any popular music history holding.”
  • My Big Honkin Blog, 12/9/14
    Into the Black provided a great reminder of just how much crap these guys were on the receiving end of simply because they created music that attracted a huge audience…Because they were afforded the extraordinary access during the timeframe in question, Brannigan and Winwood are able to offer up a real time perspective on the recording, writing, performing, promoting and personalities that are constantly at play within the band. Forget about a historical look back, this one is being detailed as it happens which offer a unique perspective on everything.”, 12/17/14
    “The definitive story of Metallica.”, 12/21/14
    “There is no shortage of Metallica books, with several published over the past few years. While some take more scholarly approaches, making the recording process, albums and songs the primary focus, Brannigan and Winwood hone in on the people and personalities…Metallica's story since 1991 is an interesting one, and the book does a good job relating it. The authors didn't just cobble together other media reports to write the book, they have firsthand experience with the band…A breezy and interesting read, featuring both behind the scenes gossipy nuggets and enlightening moments in the band's history.”
  • "Paul Brannigan and Ian Winwood do something Metallica often struggle with: talking about the band with reason and balance...They dig deep into the successes and failures with a candid approach. It paints a portrait of a band that never fails to follow its conscience, even at the risk of alienating fans and friends."
    Curled Up with a Good Book

On Sale
Nov 4, 2014
Page Count
312 pages
Da Capo Press

Paul Brannigan

About the Author

Paul Brannigan and Ian Winwood are two of the UK’s foremost music writers. A contributor to Rolling Stone, Classic Rock, Q, and Metal Hammer magazines, Brannigan is the author of the acclaimed This Is a Call: The Life and Times of Dave Grohl, while Winwood has written for Rolling Stone, the Guardian, Mojo, Kerrang!, NME, and the BBC. Both reside in London.

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Ian Winwood

About the Author

Ian Winwood is one of the world’s foremost music writers. He has written for Rolling Stone, The Guardian, Mojo, Kerrang!, and the BBC, and is the coauthor, alongside Paul Brannigan, of Birth School Metallica Death and Into the Black. Winwood resides in London.

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