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Bob Rock Recalls Working on the Black Album: “I Had to Prove Myself Constantly on that Album”


When he isn’t defending the work that he did on St. Anger, Bob Rock can often be found defending his work on other Metallica records, such as their self-titled, also known as the Black Album. Rock spoke to CBS about working with the band, where he recounted producing Metallica.

“When you make a record, you really don’t know how it’s gonna turn out. I think what made it different for me is that they were very opinionated and it was really hard to do the record, but they challenged me and I challenged them, and I think we ended up that it wasn’t all just happy. Not fighting, but there was that edge through the whole project, and that ended up being something special. And the thing about that Metallica album that you hear is that James [Hetfield] started singing rather than yelling, and I think it’s his most personal lyrics on any record he’s made.”

Rock also said that he eventually became friends with the members of Metallica but that it wasn’t an easy task.

“Eventually. It took a while. Yeah, it took a while. I had to prove myself constantly on that album.”

After making five albums with Rock, Metallica selected producer Rick Rubin for Death Magnetic. At the time, Lars Ulrich told Revolver that they did it because Rubin was the more cutting-edge producer at the time, while heavily praising Rock.

“The same thing that brought us to Bob 15 years ago is now kind of bringing us to Rick. We want to work with the guy who’s got the total finger on the pulse. And Bob was the first one to bless it, to say, ‘Look, I don’t know what else I can offer you 15 years later.’ We finish each other’s sentences. We know what he’s going to say, and he knows what we’re going to say. We made, what, like, five records with him? And he really had been the fifth member of our band for the last 15 years. As painful as it is, getting his blessing first was really important to us.”

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