I don't want to spend a ton of time reviewing this album for the music so much as talking about what it meant to me in my formative metal years. This was the second metal album I ever bought, being beaten only by Ride the Lightning. This was an absolutely incredible album to me at that time. I had never heard anything so complex and fast and intense in my life. My older brother listened to Metallica, sure, but he listened to The Black Album. This was different. This was Metallica at probably their most aggressive and extreme.
I had fallen in love with Metallica from the first album I ever bought. This second album reinforced that and kept me looking for more. I would still end up getting Master of Puppets before I ever got The Black Album. Even though the songs from that album were the first ones I really heard, that was not the most exciting album to me.
I listen back to this album now, and it is still a very interesting listen. It does feature some of the best riffs Metallica had ever written and it was certainly their most difficult and complex album. The drums are perhaps too high in the mix, and let's face it, Lars Ulrich is not the best drummer in the world. The bass is also too low in the mix, perhaps the band was being unfair to Jason Newsted, still grieving the death of Cliff Burton. This is an extremely angry Metallica.
"One" is perhaps one of their best-known songs, and certainly their best-known video. Every other track on here is bludgeoning and suffocating, filling the listener's ears with riff after riff delivered at breakneck speed.
While Ride the Lightning was my first metal album, I believe it may have been this album that convinced me that metal was the music to pursue.