SLAYER's KERRY KING on METALLICA's 'Black Album': 'I never hated it the way a lot of people did'
SLAYER guitarist Kerry King spoke to Metal Hammer magazine about METALLICA‘s 40th anniversary and the relationship between the two bands, having emerged from the same early 1980s underground heavy metal scene in Southern California. Asked what his reaction was to METALLICA‘s 1991 self-titled album, also known as The Black Album, King said: “I may not have been super-stoked on it, but I never hated it the way a lot of people did. To this day, I like that record a lot. I think it’s METALLICA but I don’t think it’s thrash METALLICA. You can hear where all the influences come from, from all of their older stuff. They just super-slowed it down and made it super-heavy; they made it super-catchy. That record probably sold more than all of my records combined. (Laughs) There was so much grief over that when it came out. And to be honest with you, everything that came out after that for a long time, that’s what I have a problem with. But The Black Album? It’s still heavy. It’s got some fast stuff on it.”
King also talked about METALLICA‘s greatest accomplishment, saying: “Man, they’ve had so many. One that I can say we were a part of was the ‘Big Four’ show at New York’s Yankee Stadium. I think we were the first musical concert at the new Yankee Stadium and I think that was big for METALLICA, so I’m happy to be a part of that with them. But their greatest achievement, I would say, has got to be The Black Album. That’s the biggest level of success for them. It may not be my thing, but it’s the first thing that comes to mind.”
Kerry previously discussed his relationship with METALLICA in a 2003 interview with Metal Edge magazine. At the time, he said: “We’ve never been close friends. We’ve pretty much been acquaintances, at best. It’s not like we cross paths that often.
“I loved METALLICA in the beginning,” he continued. “I used to go to Woodstock in Orange County and watch them when (Dave) Mustaine was in the band. I thought Mustaine‘s shit didn’t stink — and so did Mustaine; that’s his problem. I was just blown away. Me and Jeff (Hannemann, SLAYER guitarist) would go up to Woodstock and pay money just to go see METALLICA, because Mustaine would be up there ripping through everything. Everything on that album, even the leads that are on the album, are what Mustaine played — not even looking at what he was playing, just ripping. We were just blown away by that. I was a fan, for sure. I mean, even through ‘Master Of]Puppets’, I was still a fan. When I was a kid, I was a PRIEST fan and a MAIDEN fan, but if I had a band I liked and they made a record I didn’t like, I was just offended. When PRIEST put out ‘Point Of Entry’, I just burned it. I was like, ‘How could you do this to me?’ Then I kind of felt that way with ‘…And Justice For All’. It was kind of a letdown to me; the mix was kind of weird. There were some great songs on it, but to me, it wasn’t better than ‘Puppets’. Then when they did that whole ‘Load’/‘Reload’ thing, I was just… There are probably a lot of people on this planet that were pretty put aside. I even like the ‘Black’ record. It’s no ‘Master Of Puppets’, but it’s got some fuckin’ heavy shit on it.”
Later in the Metal Edge interview, King brought up METALLICA‘s name once again, saying about the band’s then-new “St. Anger” album: “You know what is really weird? I’ll bring up the new METALLICA record again. How do you have one of the best guitar players on the planet and not let him play anything? You have 75 minutes of whatever you call it, and you’re not letting Kirk (Hammett) play a lead? That’s where you made your bread and butter for the last 20 years! How do you do that? I have no idea. I mean, I played that record (‘St. Anger’) twice, and that’s all I am ever going to play it. I played it once, and then I had to make sure, but I just don’t’ get it. This isn’t METALLICA bashing — I mean, I am holding back, trust me.”
Back in 2007, King famously told Norway’s NRK P3TV that he refused to check out METALLICA‘s 2004 documentary “Some Kind Of Monster”, which followed the members of the group through the three most turbulent years of their long career, during which they battled through addiction, lineup changes, fan backlash, personal turmoil and the near-disintegration of the group while making their “St. Anger” album. “I won’t watch that movie because I don’t want to think of them like that,” he said. “I wanna think of fucking ‘Battery’ and ‘Damage Inc.’ and ‘Ride The Lightning’. I don’t wanna see these fragile fucking old men that can’t have a cocktail anymore because they’re afraid of what they’ll become. Fuck that.”