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Can Metallica’s Rare Vinyl Albums Still Be Found? A Collector’s Guide to Hidden Gems

Can a band with 100s of millions of fans still have rare records?

Metallica, one of the most popular bands in the world, has sold over 125 million albums worldwide. Finding rare albums for such a massively appealing band can be challenging. Some of the albums discussed here were released during a time when vinyl was not the preferred medium, making them rare, while others are obscure and genuinely hard to find. Let’s dive in.

metallica blaack album graded by VMG
Metallica self titled “Black Album” (1991)

A top choice for many Metallica collectors is their 1991 self-titled release, known as the “Black Album.” Released in a year filled with significant music milestones, this album sold over 30 million copies and launched Metallica into mainstream success with hits like “Enter Sandman” and “The Unforgiven.” Despite its popularity, the album is collectible due to its being released during a time when vinyl was less common. Prices range from $400 to $1,000 depending on condition, with sealed copies featuring the “Enter Sandman” hype sticker fetching $1,000 to $2,500. The all-black cover is particularly condition-sensitive. According to Discogs, 1.6k people own the album, and nearly 4k want it. Sealed copies with the hype sticker are particularly prized.

metallica ride the lightning green cover graded by VMG
“Ride the Lightning” (1984)

Next is a unique variant of “Ride the Lightning,” released in 1984. This album helped bring Metallica’s thrash metal sound to a wider audience while staying true to their roots. Initially released by Megaforce Records with 75k copies, it was later mass-released by Elektra. The Megaforce release can be distinguished by a black box logo on the back cover, while the Elektra release has no background on the logo and additional text on the back.

The labels also differ: Megaforce is silver with “Megaforce” on the right side, while Elektra is black and red with “Elektra” at the top. A rare variant has a green cover instead of blue, mistakenly printed by Bernett Records, Music For Nations in France. This variant sells for $200 to $500 and is highly sought after by collectors.

metal massacre vinyl record encapsulated by vmg
“Metal Massacre” (1982)

The most intriguing album for collectors is Metallica’s first appearance on vinyl, the 1982 compilation “Metal Massacre.” Initially released by Metal Blade Records (MBR 1001) and later by Metalworks Records (MW 6363), the second pressing replaced Steeler’s “Cold Day in Hell” with Black ‘n Blue’s “Chains Around Heaven.”

metal massacre back cover

The second pressing of “Hit the Lights” is a re-recording that features Dave Mustaine as the sole lead guitarist, unlike the first version, which included both Lloyd Grant and Dave Mustaine. The original version also incorrectly credited Ron McGovney for playing bass instead of Hetfield, despite McGovney not actually playing. The second version, featuring Dave Mustaine on lead guitar and Ron McGovney on bass, is the same as the one from the “No Life ’Til Leather” demo recorded in July 1982.

Ratt’s “Tell the World” was excluded from later pressings, starting with Metal Blade’s 1984 re-issue. The 40th-anniversary reissue includes “Cold Day in Hell,” “Chains Around Heaven,” “Tell the World,” and the second version of “Hit the Lights.”

For collectors, the first pressing that included Ratt and Steeler is highly recommended. According to a November 2012 interview with fuse.tv, Brian Slagel mentioned that the first pressing, released in June 1982, had only 2,500 copies. The album is condition-sensitive with its mostly black cover and sells for $400 to $1,000. A sealed copy would be a grail for any collector.

These are our top three must-have Metallica albums. Happy collecting and enjoy the chase! 


Check out episode 8 of Vintage Media Grading–The Podcast by pressing the “play” button above.

To learn more about having your collectible vinyl records graded and encapsulated, including slab preparation services, visit us at VMGvinyl.com

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One Response

  1. My prized possessions! Thanks for sharing, I love when I get the chance to talk/share the records in my collection. I’ll be sending more soon!

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