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Hetfield asked how to sing like Chris Isaak

James’ vocals on Nothing Else Matters and The Unforgiven were inspired by pop star, says Bob Rock

James Hetfield asked how to sing like pop star Chris Isaak before recording the iconic Black Album, producer Bob Rock has recalled.

The frontman had been inspired by Isaak’s trademark hit Wicked Game, and wanted to match the vocal emotion in his own performances.

Rock tells Talk Is Jericho: “He said, ‘Bob, I’ve never really sung before – I’ve just kind of yelled.’ He played me a Chris Isaak record and said, ‘On Nothing Else Matters and The Unforgiven, I want to sing. How do you sing like this?’”

The solution was “a great vocal sound” so that Hetfield didn’t have to double-track, the producer explains.

“I said, ‘What you hear in Chris Isaak’s voice is the nuances when he sings. He isn’t doubled, he’s actually performing. You perform.’

“We set it up so he had a great sound and then he sang. Every day he got better and he got comfortable with it. He became a great singer.”

Metallica’s Black Album, launched in 1991, remains their biggest-selling release. They’re currently working on the follow-up to 2008’s Death Magnetic – despite guitarist Kirk Hammett losing 250 riffs for the project. They return to the UK to headline the Reading and Leeds festivals in August.

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