Metallica Breakthrough success:

When Ride The Lightning caught the attention of major labels, Metallica signed with Elektra Records. Their first release with Elektra was 1986's Master of Puppets, which would serve as their breakthrough album. Despite the fact that no singles were released from the album,the band received minor airplay from album tracks "Master of Puppets" and "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)." The band gained even more exposure when they were asked to open for Ozzy Osbourne, and Master of Puppets climbed to number 29 on the Billboard Top Album Charts.Critics consider the album to be one of the "greatest heavy metal albums of all time".

On September 27, 1986, during the European leg, Cliff Burton was killed near Ljungby,
Sweden when Metallica's tour bus skidded off an allegedly icy road and flipped over.Burton was thrown out of the window and the bus landed on top of him. It is debatable whether Burton was dead at this point or not, although he would certainly have been critically injured.A winch that was lifting the bus off him snapped, causing the bus to crush him a second time.

Burton's death left the band's future in doubt.The three remaining members decided that the bassist would want them to carry on; with the Burton family's blessings the band sought a replacement and began auditions almost immediately. Among the auditions was Les Claypool, a childhood friend of Hammett's.The band liked Claypool but felt his style was "too funky." In the band's Behind the Music episode, Hetfield explains that Claypool was "too good" and "out there" for Metallica. Ultimately Claypool was not offered the job, and Jason Newsted, formerly of Arizona's Flotsam and Jetsam was asked to join. Newsted officially joined Metallica on October 28, 1986 three weeks after Burton's funeral.The band finished their tour in the early months of 1987. Following the tour, the band recorded The $5.98 EP:Garage Days Re-Revisited in July 1987 as a way to test a new studio they had constructed and to test the talents of Newsted....And Justice for All, the first studio album since Burton's death, was released in 1988.On the album very little of Newsted's bass is audible and some fans have speculated this was done intentionally as a reaction to Burton's death or as a way of hazing Newsted. The most likely reason, as mentioned by Hetfield and Ulrich in subsequent interviews, was that because Newsted was not at the mixing sessions he was not able to affect the final mixing process. Ulrich has also stated his opinion that the lack of perceived bass resulted from Newsted exclusively mirroring Hetfield's
rhythm tracks.Although the song-writing was praised, the production of this album was heavily criticized as Lars Ulrich's drums clicked more than thudded and the guitars had a thin sound.The Damaged Justice tour followed to promote the
new album.

Despite criticism, in 1989, Metallica received its first Grammy nomination for the album. The nomination was for the newly created Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance Vocal or Instrument categories. However, the award was given to Jethro Tull for the album Crest of a Knave. The result generated much controversy, as Metallica was widely expected to take home the award and was standing off-stage waiting to receive it after performing the song "One" for the telecast. Jethro Tull (who was considered by most to not even be a HardRock/Metal group) had not even bothered to attend the ceremony, assuming that their chance of winning would be a long-shot. Lars Ulrich even referenced the snub in accepting a Grammy for "Enter Sandman" three years later, stating,"We gotta thank Jethro Tull for not putting out an album this year."

It was during this time the band embraced the mainstream music world with their debut music video for the song "One." The band performed the song in an abandoned warehouse, and was then extensively "remixed" with footage of the film version of Johnny Got His Gun. Rather than organize an ongoing licensing deal, Metallica simply bought the rights to the film outright. This is why the film has not had a subsequent DVD pressing. The end result featured a coherent but shortened "mini-movie" version of "Johnny Got His Gun" with an intricate level of synchronization between the song and the film's dialogue, creating a singular narrative between the two.

The "remix" video was submitted to MTV, with the alternate "performance only" version held back in the event that MTV would ban the remix version. MTV accepted the remix version despite its length (the video ran for nearly ten minutes). The video would be viewers' first exposure to Metallica and was voted #25 in the fall of 1999 when MTV aired its last "Top 100 Videos of All Time" countdown. The video was also prominently featured during MTV's 25th Anniversary edition of "ADD Video," which showcased the top videos to air on MTV in the last 25 years.In 1991, Metallica released their self-titled album,Metallica (popularly known as The Black Album by fans). The record was co-produced with Bob Rock, whose resume included work with hard rock acts The Cult, Bon Jovi and Motley Crüe, The album featured a black cover that had a very pale image of a snake in one of the corners, with the band's name in the opposite corner. The album evoked humorous comparisons to Spinal Tap. The majority of the making of the Metallica album and the following tour was documented in A Year and a Half in the Life of Metallica. The recording sessions were a long and arduous process, lasting over a year due to infighting among the band's members and endless arguments with Rock about the album's direction, scope, and sound. The cost of recording the album was over $1 million (as stated on Behind the Music:Metallica). However, despite the battle to finish the album, it quickly became the band's most successful release, charting at number one on the Billboard charts.The album's first single was, "Enter Sandman",which showed off the new album's slowed-down style of music compared to Metallica's previous work. The Black Album is currently tied for the 26th spot of highest selling album of all time in America.

Due to the albums new style of sound, more charges of selling out would be aimed at Metallica throughout the 1990s, to which the band often joked that they did indeed sell out-each and every date of the tour. In 1992 during a hugely financially successful co-headlining tour with Guns N' Roses, Hetfield suffered severe second and third degree burns to his left arm due to pyrotechnics during the opening of "Fade To Black," leaving him unable to play guitar for a portion of the tour. Former Metallica roadie and Metal Church guitarist John Marshall filled in for the rest of the tour on guitar while Hetfield continued to sing.