The veteran metal group ended their partnership with Warner Bros., and as Los Angeles Times writer Randall Roberts points out, the timing isn't coincidental: "Under an agreement that Metallica signed in 1994 ... the band negotiated that ownership of all of its master recordings would revert to them on Nov. 30, 2012. That day has come."
"It's always been about control for us as a band," drummer Lars Ulrich acknowledged in a statement that made the news public. "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."
The new label, named after the opening track from the band's ...And Justice for All, will be the command center for all forthcoming Metallica product, although these guys aren't completely separated from Warners -- distribution will be overseen by Rhino, which is part of the Warner family of labels. (The movie, which is set for a 2013 release, will presumably not be coming out through Blackened.)
Today's news shouldn't come as much a surprise to Metallica fans. The quartet have long been quite happy to do things the way they want, whether it's putting together a curated festival or releasing the divisive, unexpected Lulu with Lou Reed. And especially in a climate when more and more bands are deciding that they don't need major labels, it seemed inevitable that Metallica would eventually take the plunge. They're one of the world's most popular bands, and now they control all their master recordings. A lot of groups would kill to be in their position.
Photo courtesy BB Gun Press.