The Unforgiven (song)

"The Unforgiven"
Metallica - The Unforgiven cover.jpg
Single by Metallica
from the album Metallica
B-side"Killing Time", "So What?", "The Unforgiven (Demo)"
ReleasedOctober 28, 1991
Format
RecordedOctober 1990 at One on One studios, Los Angeles, California
GenreHeavy metal
Length6:27
LabelElektra
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
Metallica singles chronology
"Enter Sandman"
(1991)
"The Unforgiven"
(1991)
"Nothing Else Matters"
(1992)
Music video
"The Unforgiven" on YouTube

"The Unforgiven" is a power ballad by American heavy metal band Metallica. It was released as the second single from their eponymous fifth album Metallica (also known as The Black Album). Though one of the slower tracks on the album, its chord progression is distinctly one of the heaviest. The song deals with the theme of the struggle of the individual against the efforts of those who would subjugate him.[1]

The song has since spawned two sequels, in the form of "The Unforgiven II", from the album Reload, and "The Unforgiven III", from the album Death Magnetic.

"The Unforgiven"

History

Lars Ulrich explained that the band wanted to try something new with the idea of a ballad. Instead of the standard melodic verse and heavy chorus – as evidenced on their previous ballads "Fade to Black", "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" and "One" – the band opted to reverse the dynamic, with heavy, distorted verses and a softer, melodic chorus, played with undistorted electric guitars. The opening section contains percussive instruments performed by Ulrich, and also a small amount of keyboards.[citation needed]

The horn intro was essentially taken from The Unforgiven (a Western movie) and then reversed so its source would be hidden, as Hetfield later explained on the documentary Classic Albums: Metallica - Metallica.

Live performances

"The Unforgiven" was played live as part of Metallica's "Wherever We May Roam" and "Nowhere Else to Roam" world tours, which lasted from 1991 to 1993, in support of The Black Album. It was played again on the Madly in Anger with the World world tour in 2003 and 2004 and has been continued to be played during all of the bands' tours since.

The live version of "The Unforgiven" includes a second solo near the end of the song that the original recording did not have, although this part has rarely been played since the early 2000s.

Music video

An accompanying video was released for the song. The black-and-white video is themed around a boy born in captivity who spends his life in a windowless stone room. As the video progress, he ages into an adult and then an old man. He spends his entire life carving into the stone to create a window while occasionally grasping his one possession: a locket. It is implied that another captive lives on the other side of the stone room. The video ends with the old man finally creating a window, through which he deposits his possession. He blocks off the tunnel through which he crawled to access the cell using the square of stone he created when he made the window, then lies down to die. An 11:33, "theatrical" version of the video exists, featuring several minutes of introductory scenes that precede the timeline of the main portion of the video. This version was featured on The Videos 1989–2004, the band's 2006 music video compilation.

Track listing

US cassette
No.TitleLength
1."The Unforgiven"6:27
2."Killing Time"3:05
US promotional single
No.TitleLength
1."The Unforgiven" (Radio Edit)4:59
International CD single
No.TitleLength
1."The Unforgiven"6:29
2."Killing Time"3:08
3."The Unforgiven" (Demo)6:15
International 12" single
No.TitleLength
1."The Unforgiven"6:27
2."Killing Time"3:04
3."So What"3:07
4."The Unforgiven" (Demo)6:18

Chart performance

Chart (1992) Peak
position
Australian Singles Chart[2] 10
Austrian Singles Chart[3] 30
Dutch Singles Chart[4] 25
Finnish Singles Chart[5] 1
French Singles Chart[6] 28
German Singles Chart[7] 47
Irish Singles Chart[8] 22
Italy (FIMI)[9] 18
New Zealand Singles Chart[10] 24
Polish Singles Chart 9
Swedish Singles Chart[11] 32
Swiss Singles Chart[12] 20
UK Singles Chart[13] 15
US Billboard Hot 100[14] 35
US Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks[14] 10

Personnel

Other Languages
čeština: The Unforgiven
français: The Unforgiven
ქართული: The Unforgiven
русский: The Unforgiven
slovenčina: The Unforgiven
Türkçe: The Unforgiven
українська: The Unforgiven