New Metallica Biography ‘Enter Night’ Reveals Band in New Light
The official Metallica biography may still be a while off (if it ever happens at all), but one of the most comprehensive, controversial and thought-provoking books about the band, Mick Wall's 'Metallica: Enter Night,' will come out in North America in May.
The book begins with the horrific 1986 bus accident in Sweden that took the life of bassist Cliff Burton -- the great test of Metallica's fortitude and, possibly, the catalyst that guided the course of their career for many years to come. From there, Wall -- a prolific author whose last book was the Led Zeppelin biography 'When Giants Walked the Earth' -- pulls from past and present interviews with Metallica, other musicians, producers and various insiders to tell the story of the band's greatest triumphs, worst tragedies and occasional failures.
"What I wanted to do was try and tell the story from the point of view of someone who isn't necessarily a huge fan," Wall told Blistering.com, "someone who doesn't let them off the hook or forgive them their sins, but tries to understand the more mature aspect of their story, and presents the reality of their story. As is in the case of Led Zeppelin's story, no one is all good, no one is all bad, and no band does nothing but make amazing albums. They make duds, they become selfish, they become full of avarice, they admire themselves too much sometimes, and at other times they hate themselves too much."
Wall decided to follow up his Led Zeppelin book with a revealing Metallica retrospective because, while there have been numerous books written about the band, most have come from a fan's perspective, emphasizing the good and whitewashing the bad. With 'Enter Night,' Wall strived to tell the story of Metallica without pulling punches, chronicling the incredible heights that the band reached and the success they have maintained -- often under great pressure and seemingly insurmountable odds.
"None have had the extraordinary courage and sheer arrogance to try and achieve what Metallica wanted to achieve," Wall told Blistering.com "Metallica was the first by leaving the whole thrash metal thing behind and become bigger than Bon Jovi, which was an extraordinary feat in itself.
"It was an idea of utter madness, and such a ridiculous suggestion back in the late '80s. But somehow, they managed it, and then in the '90s with the shift into grunge, and the general wiping out of all the Metallica-like generation of bands. They then did something even more audacious and insane, and that was get even bigger and more successful."
Metallica's greatest moment of self-doubt, said Wall, came at the end of the '90s when they followed up the multi-million selling 'Black Album' with the more stripped down, bluesy 'Load' in 1996 and 'Re-Load' in 1997. Not only was the band struggling to develop without repeating themselves, they were also going through a bit of an identity crisis and taking out their frustrations on Jason Newsted, the bassist who replaced Burton.
"By the tail end of the '90s, they were quite self-harmful when they tried to reinvent themselves as a band of the '90s," Wall said. "I mean they put on make-up, they had body piercings, and Kirk Hammett and Lars Ulrich were now kissing each other in public, which only sent James Hetfield insane.
"They were also bullying the new boy Jason Newsted. The only thing Newsted ever got out of Metallica was rich. He got no respect, and he was never treated as an equal. In 15 years, he got exactly three co-songwriting credits on what happened to be their three least interesting tracks. And in the end he walks out in a state of dreadful anger and bitterness, which then causes the band to kind of explode."
Metallica's worst mistake, asserted Wall, came with the Napster debacle. The first major file-sharing service, Napster created a peer-to-peer template that allowed music fans to share copyrighted material, and Metallica led a the crusade against them by suing them and delivering to the company the names of thousands of fans who had downloaded Metallica songs.
Ironically, Wall said in the Blistering.com interview that Metallica's least popular album, 2003's 'St. Anger' was one of their greatest artistic moments. While it was far from their best album musically -- and seemed to counter everything the band embraced (the production was tinny and snare drum sounded like a trash can lid, there were no solos, the music lacked strong hooks or clear direction) -- 'St. Anger' was a bold and daring statement. It was a f--- you of sorts to those who expected Metallica to sound like Metallica, and the perfect set-up for the return to form of 'Death Magnetic' five years later.
"It's a fantastic journey [Metallica] have been on," Wall said, "and that's what I was looking for -- a great story to tell."
Watch Metallica's 'Enter Sandman' Video