Metallica fans are particular. While there're plenty of diehards who still get excited whenever the band releases new material, there're just as many others who treat 1991's "Black Album" like the edge of a cliff and never take another step. We see where those thrash purists are coming from, but they're missing out on a bunch of kickass songs that Metallica have dropped since their unfuckwithable first five albums.
We wanted to know what 'Tallica song released after the Black Album our readers consider to be the best — which meant cuts from Load, Reload, St. Anger, Death Magnetic and Hardwired...To Self-Destruct, as well as their brand new single, "Lux Æterna," were eligible. Below, are the top five vote-getters, ranked accordingly.
Yep, "Fixxxer" beat out "Fuel." The Reload closer is exactly the type of mid-tempo quasi-ballad that Metallica became known for after "Nothing Else Matters" and "The Unforgiven," and fans clearly clung to it despite the band never performing it live until 2021. It's not Metallica at their most thrilling, but it does feature a savory guitar solo, a weird effect thrown over Hetfield's vocals toward the end, and a nice breakdown/build-up to cap off its eight-minute runtime. It's definitely Reload highlight.
Maybe it's because Metallica fans have had nearly 25 years to come around to it, but Load got a lot of love in the votes for this poll. "Bleeding Me" sums up everything Metallica were doing on their controversial 1996 album — twangy guitar leads, cowboy-ish vocal inflections, and tempos that fully leaned into the "Black Album"'s Guns N' Roses comparisons. Some fans hate it, but others love the way this song stomps — that main riff is undeniably thick as hell — and appreciate Hetfield's tortured lyrics about substance abuse.
"This is heavy, this is fast, this is thrash metal, this is Metallica." That's how one YouTube commenter describes "Spit Out the Bone" and we couldn't have said it better ourselves. Hardwired...To Self-Destruct was considered a true return to form by many 'Tallica heads, and songs like this are why — a blistering, seven-minute rager with drums that hit hard as fuck, riffs that take no prisoners and an inspired vocal delivery from Hetfield, who fuses his Eighties cadences with his Nineties-and-beyond sense of melody. It's a true ripper.
Anything after St. Anger would've been a step up, and Death Magnetic certainly was, even it fell into a somewhat formulaic throwback to their golden years. "All Nightmare Long," though, is a truly brilliant Metallica song that can go toe-to-toe with basically any song in their Eighties playbook. The main riff has an out-for-blood jaggedness to it, and while Hetfield's speak-sing vocals are a little pitchy at times, the sheer intensity of the playing — including Hammett's world-class solo — makes it hard for even the crankiest of thrash purists to dislike.
Out of all the songs Metallica released after the "Black Album," voters in this poll consider "The Outlaw Torn" the cream of the crop. There're certainly other tracks on Death Magnetic and Hardwired that go faster and harder, but this slow-burning, nine-minute Load closer clearly has an alluring grip on the fanbase. Besides the fact that it's about late Metallica bassist Cliff Burton, there're a couple kickass instrumental passages on here — some dusky bass noodling from Jason Newsted, several psych-y bridges, an explosive climax — that undeniably lift the song into the upper echelon of the band's latter-day output.