Metallica On Top In 1991, In The Loder Files

Touring the album that broke them big.

Where do old interviews go to die? Since 1988 they've gone into the MTV News vault, but we've been exhuming them to bring you these classic natterings. Here's the latest in the series, which runs every Tuesday.

In August of 1991, when we talked to Metallica at the "Day on the Green" festival in Oakland, California, the band was at a career peak. The group's fifth album, simply called Metallica, had taken over the top spot on the Billboard chart — a development that would have been unimaginable when they formed as a new-wave thrash-metal outfit in Los Angeles 10 years earlier.

The making of the record had been long and troubled; it took a heavy toll on the group, both financially and personally. It paid off pretty well, though: Along with propelling the band into the rock mainstream, Metallica, in the years since its release, has sold some 15 million copies in this country alone. The album introduced such classic tracks as "Enter Sandman," and it stirred up a mini-controversy with a song called "Don't Tread on Me," which in the wake of the first Gulf War struck some people as kind of militaristic. (Although its key lyric — "To secure peace is to prepare for war" — is an idea that dates back to around the fifth century.)

Following the release of Metallica, the band embarked on a world tour (with a two-and-a-half-hour stage show) that kept them on the road for more than a year. Given the brilliance of some of the new songs, and the celebrated intensity with which the group performs, that outing cemented the band's status as one of the most successful and innovative metal bands ever — and one that's still together today, with most of its original lineup, 25 years after the release of its first album. Pretty heavy.

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