Metallica's 'Black Album' first to hit 16 million US sales in more than two decades

The US heavy metal band will headline Glastonbury Festival this summer

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The Independent Culture

Metallica’s self-titled 1991 album has become the first to shift more than 16 million copies in the US since Nielsen Soundscan began tracking sales 23 years ago.

SoundScan confirmed the heavy metal band’s success after the record sold 3,000 copies last week to bring its all-time total to 16,002,000.

The album’s cover art is plain black, featuring the iconic Metallica logo and a hissing snake, leading many fans to name it The Black Album (safe to say it differs from the Beatles’ white equivalent).

Famous songs such as “Nothing Else Matters” and “Enter Sandman” feature on Metallica, which debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and is still popular today.

The next most-successful album since SoundScan began in 1991 is Shania Twain’s Come on Over, with 15.5 million sales.

Metallica overtook Twain in December 2009 but both albums remain the only two to shift over 15 million copies in the SoundScan 1991-onwards era. There have been 22 albums to reach at least 10 million, most recently Adele’s 21.

Metallica are set to headline Glastonbury this summer for the first time but reaction to the booking has been mixed.


Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner questioned whether the US group could fit in the festival’s “hippy nucleus” while Judas Priest’s Rob Halford has admitted to a “diva moment” upon hearing the news.

“I rang (organiser) Michael Eavis and said I loved it,” Halford told NME. “I love that he’s bringing metal to Glastonbury but I did say next time he wants to bring metal to Glastonbury, can you make sure it’s British?”

Kasabian have praised Eavis’ “bold” decision, The Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger has predicted Metallica will be “great” and The Smiths’ Johnny Marr reckons it will be “funny”.