Most music critics point to Metallica’s album Load as the point in the band’s career when they “sold out”, due to the band’s decision to depart from Heavy Metal both in their image and their songs, but rabid fans and purists will point to the Black Album, particularly one of its singles – Enter Sandman – as the point where Metallica “sold out”.
Of course, the claim that Metallica turned their backs on heavy metal during the Black Album is harsh and a bit of an overreaction. The album and its songs still belong to the heavy metal genre. The only difference is that the songs are a bit more radio-friendly and commercially viable, and that’s not a bad thing at all – Enter Sandman on its own brought Heavy, Speed, and Death Metal to the attention of music lovers who would not have checked the genres out if Hetfield and the gang didn’t dangle a softer brand of Metal in their faces.
That’s not to say that Enter Sandman is soft. It features angular chord progressions, thumping basslines, growling vocals, and featured a heavily overdubbed rhythm guitar track that features Hetfield playing and recording the same riff three times in order to create a sound he describes as “wall of guitars.”
Many fans of metal’s heavier, rougher acts (such as Metallica’s earlier material) were introduced to it via Enter Sandman. If you’re looking for a jumping off point for the genre, or just want to be reminded of the time when Metallica managed to toe the fine line between commercial and niche metal, you should check out Enter Sandman.