Metallica Takes Back Its Masters, Unveils Blackened Recordings

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Metallica's James Hetfield, left, and Kirk Hammett

The veteran metal band has taken control of its best-selling music and longform video catalog per a 1994 deal with Warner Music. Its new label will be distributed by Rhino in the U.S. and UMG internationally.

As of now, Metallica owns Metallica.

The veteran metal quartet said during the weekend that has taken ownership of all its master recordings and longform videos. The move stems from a provision in the Los Angeles band’s 1994 joint venture deal with Warner Music Group stating that all masters would revert to Metallica on Nov. 30, 2012.

The group -- James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett and Robert Trujillo -- also unveiled Blackened Recordings, its new label that will be the new home of Metallica’s music and videos. Blackened, named for the lead track on the band’s 1988 album … And Justice for All, inked with Rhino Entertainment for manufacture and distribution of its titles in North America and licensed its fare to Universal Music Group internationally.

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"It's always been about control for us as a band," said drummer Ulrich. "Forming Blackened Recordings is the ultimate in independence, giving us 100 percent control and putting us in the driver's seat of our own creative destiny."

Metallica has a long history of wrestling for that control. In April 2000, the band irked many music fans by filing a high-profile lawsuit against Napster citing copyright infringement. That July, Ulrich testified before a Senate panel about Napster and the perceived threat of peer-to-peer file sharing. Napster reached a settlement with the band about a year later. The multiple-Grammy-winning band also held out on selling its music via Apple’s iTunes Store until summer 2006, though its albums were downloadable via some digital services including MSN Music.


Blackened Recordings’ first release will be Quebec Magnetic, a live DVD/Blu-ray directed by longtime collaborator Wayne Isham and culled from a pair of Quebec City concerts on the band’s World Magnetic tour in fall 2009. The set list was determined by 35,000 fan vote at in September. Watch a trailer for Quebec Magnetic, which streets Dec. 10, below.