Metallica's Black Album Producer Was Confused By 'And Justice For All' Mix

21st Annual ASCAP Pop Awards - Arrivals

A lesser-explored angle of the controversy of the bass-less final mix on Metallica's ...And Justice For All album is how it bewildered producer Bob Rock, who would go on to produce The Black Album.

By the time Rock met with Metallica in 1990 about making the follow-up to Justice, he was one of the most sought-after producers in rock, having recorded Bon Jovi's Slippery When Wet, Mötley Crüe's Dr. Feelgood and The Cult's Sonic Temple, among others.

Rock tells GibsonTV that he bought ...And Justice For All because he had seen the music video for "One" in rotation on MTV. The sound of the album and its utter lack of bottom end underwhelmed Rock, to say the least. But he was downright confused after seeing Metallica on the 'Damaged Justice' tour (he went because The Cult was opening).

"I went to see The Cult and I stayed for Metallica," Rock said. "What I saw in Metallica was not the sound of Justice. I heard this big band that had weight and size. ...The record didn't make sense to me. I know it's a standard for a lot of people, but I'm just being honest here."

Some time went by and Rock got a call from his manager: the members of Metallica loved Dr. Feelgood and wanted him to mix their next album. Rock replied that he wouldn't mix the album, but he would produce it if the band was interested.

Metallica agreed to meet with Rock. The band flew to Vancouver and played him some demoes for what would be their 1991 self-titled album, aka The Black Album.

"I heard 'Sad But True,' and I went, 'Wow!,'" he recalled. "It was all there. The my head, I was just going, 'I can do this. I can make a great record.'"

While the Black Album sessions didn't all go smoothly (as was documented in the 1992 film A Year & a Half in the Life of Metallica), Rock gives the band credit for trusting him.

"The great thing about Metallica — when they make a decision, they commit fully to it," he said. "So even though a lot of things that I brought to them ... in terms of the changes that were made, they embraced, and they do it full-on."

The producer also gave the band credit for knowing that "Enter Sandman" should be the first single from the Black Album. Rock admitted he would have chosen "Holier Than Thou."

Photo: Getty Images

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