Metallica's 1991 self-titled record, dubbed the "Black Album" by fans post-release, is the top-selling heavy metal album of all time and followed what many consider the greatest four-album run in thrash history. While several of the LP's singles like "Enter Sandman" and "Nothing Else Matters" remain inescapable anthems played hourly on radio stations and at sporting events across the country even today, 31 years later, we wanted to know what real fans consider the album's actual top five tracks. According to our readers, the obvious hits aren't the album's top-tier cuts. See the top five vote-getters ranked accordingly below.
An existential lyrical trip through the expansiveness of the human experience, the mid-tempo chug of "Through The Never" continues to captivate fans with its sense of wonder — set to the rhythmic backdrop of Hammett and Hetfield's signature riffing. It functions as the entrance to the album's back half, and, following a squealingly great solo from Kirk, settles into one of the most crowd-moving, groove-heavy riffs to grace the penultimate quarter of a metal song.
In a seemingly un-metal move, "Don't Tread On Me" kicks off with an eight-bar part from West Side Story's popular track "America." Lyrically referencing both the Gadsden flag and a 1775 Benjamin Franklin letter to the Pennsylvania Journal addressing it, the track's meaning has seen conflicting interpretations over the years. James Hetfield tried to set the record straight in 2012, telling The Village Voice: "I love the song, but it shocked a lot of people because everyone thought it was pro-war when they thought we were anti-war, and alls [sic] we're doing is writing songs. We're not standing politically on any side. [It] was just one of those 'don't fuck with us' songs."
In keeping with the slower tempos and less thrash-driven riffage on "Black," "Of Wolf and Man" plays out like an imagined scenario in which man becomes more like the wolf, returning to the essence of a simple yet savage existence. It can also reference the feeling of indulging one's senses with certain intoxicants, sometimes to an extreme; the line "So seek the wolf in thyself" feels at once empowering and foreboding depending on one's perspective, perhaps even hinting at substance issues band members have fought throughout the years.
The fourth and arguably most sinister single from the eponymous record nearly took home the No. 1 spot on this list thanks to its continued radio popularity, undeniable ear-worm hooks, and a fiercely independent, anthemic spirit that has become a legendary mainstay of the band's live performances. While the track only reached No. 82 on Billboard's Hot 100, it performed extremely well in more than a dozen other countries, even soaring to the top two in Finland, Norway, and drummer Lars Ulrich's home country of Denmark.
Then a studio sophomore with the band, bassist Jason Newsted took the lead in crafting "My Friend Of Misery" from a riff he brought in and let the rest of the guys expand upon. Around the album's 25th anniversary, he told Billboard about the track's origins. "It was the bass, by itself, introducing that song, which was not the easiest thing to do at that time within that band ... That was a moment where those guys kind of bowed and said, 'Here you go, man, put your song on there,' being the guy who came up with that; as opposed to being part of the team, I got to be myself for a minute there, which was a real accomplishment."