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Metallica perform The Black Album in its entirety at Louder Than Life festival

James Hetfield of Metallica
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Metallica returned to performing for large crowds over the weekend for the first time since the start of the pandemic, with not one but two sets at Kentucky’s Louder Than Life music festival.

For their first show on Friday (September 24), the thrash heroes served up a 16-track set with picks from across their sprawling catalog. Opening with Whiplash, Hetfield and co tore through the likes of Harvester of Sorrow, The Memory Remains, Master of Puppets, before concluding with an encore of Battery, Fuel and Seek & Destroy.

But Sunday (September 26) played host to a notably rarer setlist from the band, as they performed their seminal 1991 self-titled record – dubbed The Black Album by most – in its entirety. 

After opening with a trio of tracks not from The Black Album – Hardwired, The Four Horsemen and Welcome Home (Sanitarium) – the band began performing the record in reverse order, starting with closer The Struggle Within, and ending with Enter Sandman, before closing the set with an encore of Blackened and Creeping Death.

Metallica recently celebrated the 30th anniversary of Metallica with a full remaster of the album, and The Metallica Blacklist, a sprawling record which sees 53 different artists pay tribute to the 1991 LP with their own covers of its tracks.

Among its highlights are an industrial reimagining of Sad But True by St. Vincent, an awe-inspiring acoustic reworking of The Struggle Within by Mexican duo Rodrigo y Gabriela, and a mostly faithful take on Enter Sandman by Weezer.

Before the two shows at Louder Than Life, Metallica treated fans in Chicago and their hometown of San Francisco to two intimate gigs on September 20 and 16, respectively.

Shortly prior to the band’s San Francisco 400-capacity show at The Independent, the band wrote on social media: “Hey! Gonna let you in on a little secret. We’re playing tonight at The Independent in downtown SF. Grab a $20 bill and get your ass to the box office right now! Proof of vaxx is required to get a wristband and it’s gonna sell out fast.”

Check out Metallica's Louder Than Life setlist from September 26 below.

  1. Hardwired
  2. The Four Horsemen
  3. Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
  4. The Struggle Within
  5. My Friend of Misery
  6. The God That Failed
  7. Of Wolf and Man
  8. Nothing Else Matters
  9. Through the Never
  10. Don't Tread on Me
  11. Wherever I May Roam
  12. The Unforgiven
  13. Holier Than Thou
  14. Sad But True
  15. Enter Sandman
  16. Blackened
  17. Creeping Death
Sam Roche

Sam is a Staff Writer at Guitar World, also creating content for Total Guitar, Guitarist and Guitar Player. He has well over 15 years of guitar playing under his belt, as well as a degree in Music Technology (Mixing and Mastering). He's a metalhead through and through, but has a thorough appreciation for all genres of music. In his spare time, Sam creates point-of-view guitar lesson videos on YouTube under the name Sightline Guitar.