Question: What happens when you let a bunch of artists take free rein of one of the most commercially successful heavy metal albums of all time? Answer: you get a whole bunch of ‘Enter Sandman’ covers.
The Metallica Blacklist, the 53-song four-hour monolith consisting of every artist under the sun giving their take on tracks from Metallica’s most popular album, 1991’s The Black Album, has finally been released. That means we get to hear twelve different versions of ‘Nothing Else Matters’ helmed by everyone from Phoebe Bridgers to Darius Rucker.
For anyone masochistic enough to listen to the entire thing, there are some hidden gems (the album as a whole works best as a random playlist, complete with skipping songs at will. There’s no reason to hear ‘The Unforgiven’ seven times in a row, even if one is a psychedelic pastiche from Cage the Elephant, the current experts in psychedelic pastiches).
Highlights include Rodrigo y Gabriela being the only ones brave enough to take on ‘The Struggle Within’. Meanwhile, Kamasi Washington’s bananas jazz fusion version of ‘My Friend of Misery’, folk troubadours Goodnight, Texas also being the only ones brave enough to take on ‘Of Wolf and Man’ (no love for ‘The Struggle Within’ or ‘Of Wolf and Man’ on The Metallica Blacklist, apparently), and Jason Isbell’s twangy cover of ‘Sad But True’, and J Balvin’s ballsy reggaeton reimagining of ‘Wherever I May Roam’.
But one cover is sure to be more divisive than all the others: Mac DeMarco’s surprisingly faithful version of ‘Enter Sandman’. DeMarco has pulled this kind of thing before, specifically with his pitch-modulated piss-take of Nickelback’s ‘Photograph’ for the Save Stereogum compilation.
DeMarco pulls out an impressively gnarled growl, but as with everything DeMarco does, it’s hard not to see it as some kind of perverse parody. There’s clearly love for the original, but his rendition of The Lord’s Prayer in the song’s breakdown is clearly tongue-in-cheek.
Overall, The Metallica Blacklist could have easily been streamlined to the twelve best covers and made into a proper tribute album instead of a gargantuan glut of occasionally inspired renditions. Then again, that wouldn’t really be in Metallica’s wheelhouse for ignoring restraint, so it winds up being an appropriate tribute to the band in more ways than one.
Check out the entirety of The Metallica Blacklist down below.