Metallica had already become the biggest thrash metal band by the end of the 1980s, but of course, this didn’t make them stop. On the contrary, it had an even bigger ambition for becoming the world’s biggest rock band and stared its eyes on to that.- prize. But the real problem was how would it get higher even more, although it has already reached the top. How could Metallica compete with its epic metal song, …And Justice For All. So, that was the first connotation of ‘Enter Sandman‘.
“When we were done with …And Justice For All there was no place to go. We’d hit the wall. After playing all those songs on the road for a couple of years we said, ‘There’s got to be a reset here.’” says the drummer of Metallica, Lars Ulrich.
And Metallica wasn’t the only one feeling so. The entire music industry wanted to find the button back then. But on the other hand, Seattle was hosting new stirrings that will also inspire Metallica after. Punk and metal were being mashed together into a new detected sound called “grunge” by Soundgarden, Mudhoney, and Nirvana.
Metallica‘s Kirk Hammett recalls back then and tells how he inspired in the first place,
“It was about two or three o’clock in the morning. I had just been listening to Louder Than Love, the Soundgarden album. I heard that album, I was inspired; I picked up my guitar, and out came that riff.”
So this was the first step of Enter Sandman. Hammett’s sudden inspiration made the basis of the song. It also became the first song of Metallica’s self-titled fifth album, aka the Black Album. This time, Metallica wanted to break its record in a wholly different way from …And Justice For All. So, Enter Sandman included this approach with staying away from complex time signatures and epic running times.
Furthermore, corroding the sound wasn’t the only thing Metallica wanted to change. Even they had a successful relationship with its old producer Flemming Rasmussen, it was time for the new and fresh input to help them execute their great leap forwards.
So the band wanted to work with, who also had worked with Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, The Cult, and Mötley Crüe. That also showed the clear signal of Metallica‘s intents.
Bob Rock, who had worked with Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, The Cult, and Mötley Crüe. Recruiting such a commercial producer was a clear signal of Metallica’s intent.
“Some people thought Bob would make us sound too commercial. You know: ʻOh, Bob works with Bon Jovi, Bob works with Mötley Crüe.ʼ But if Flemming Rasmussen worked on a Bon Jovi record, would Bon Jovi all of a sudden sound like Metallica?”
Even if Metallica wasn’t comfortable, working with some of rock’s biggest egos and mode.
“I really didn’t give a shit, to be honest. When they started doing things the way they had always done, I just gave back to them. They were quite taken aback. When they’d do stupid things I’d call them on it. Lars would show up really late and I’d say, ‘What a fucking asshole you are…’ I don’t think people did that to them before.”
The band had used to previously record their parts separately, but Rock insisted to play together in the studio. And right after, Rock and Ulrich tried James Hetfield to rewrite the lyrics of the song. And it was Rock, along with Lars Ulrich, who pressured James Hetfield into rewriting the song’s lyrics. One of the original subject matters includes Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or cot death. But the drummer and producer both thought the subject matter was too heavy and told Hetfield so.
“That pissed me off so much “I was like, ‘Fuck you! I’m the writer here!’ But that was the first challenge from someone else and it made me work harder.”
So Hetfield started to rewrite the song in a twisted lullaby way. And the name of ‘Enter Sandman‘ was also referring to a mythical figure. After a little, the song has actually proved its worth. Enter Sandman had reached No.16 in the US and No.5 in the UK.
Enter Sandman and the Black Album proved to be turning stones, they’ve turned Metallica from one of metal’s biggest bands into a genuine mainstream phenomenon. It has taken lots of stages jumping off, literally…
Before we finish, here is an article of Metallica and other famous beloved musicians’ documentary including Metallica’s more interviews and more other famous bands, which you might be interested in. Till the news come, hope to see you soon.