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James Hetfield recording Enter Sandman

“Enter Sandman” is one of Metallica’s most famous songs, serving as the opening track and lead single from their self-titled fifth album, commonly known as “The Black Album”, released in 1991. James Hetfield, the rhythm guitarist and lead vocalist of Metallica, played a crucial role in the creation and recording of the song.

Hetfield, along with drummer Lars Ulrich, is credited with writing the music for “Enter Sandman”, while Hetfield is responsible for the song’s lyrics. The song’s initial riff, which became its signature, was written by Hetfield. This riff is notable for its catchy, driving rhythm, and it is often cited as one of the most recognizable riffs in metal music.

The recording process for “Enter Sandman”, and the Black Album as a whole, marked a departure from Metallica’s earlier, thrash-oriented sound. The band aimed for a more accessible, mainstream rock sound, which was achieved with the help of producer Bob Rock. Rock pushed the band to refine their songs extensively and focus on sound quality and arrangement, leading to a more polished production than their previous work.

The lyrical content of “Enter Sandman” was initially much darker, dealing with themes of death. However, Hetfield modified the lyrics to make them more ambiguous and less directly related to death, ending up with a theme revolving around childhood fears and nightmares.

The recording of “Enter Sandman” involved layering multiple guitar tracks to create a thick, powerful sound, and Hetfield’s vocals were delivered with his characteristic intensity, adding to the song’s powerful impact. The song’s bridge features a spoken-word prayer, which adds to its eerie atmosphere.

“Enter Sandman” became a huge commercial success and has been a staple of Metallica’s live performances. Its iconic music video also played a significant role in its popularity, receiving heavy rotation on MTV.

This track not only marked a significant point in Metallica’s career, propelling them to greater mainstream success but also left a lasting impact on the rock and metal genres, influencing countless bands and musicians in the years that followed.

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