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05 - The Unforgiven
Manchester, TN

Retrieved from Wikipedia:
The Unforgiven on Wikipedia
"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
FormatCD single, cassette, vinyl
RecordedOctober 1990 at One on One studios, Los Angeles, California
GenreHeavy metal
Writer(s)James Hetfield
Kirk Hammett
Lars Ulrich
Producer(s)Bob Rock
James Hetfield
Lars Ulrich
Metallica singles chronology

"The Unforgiven" is a power ballad by American metal band Metallica. It was released as the second single from their eponymous fifth album Metallica (a.k.a. The Black Album). Though one of the slower tracks on the album, its chord progression is distinctly one of the heavier. 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.


  • 1 "The Unforgiven"
    • 1.1 History
    • 1.2 Live performances
    • 1.3 Music video
    • 1.4 Track listing
    • 1.5 Chart performance
    • 1.6 Personnel
  • 2 "The Unforgiven II"
    • 2.1 Track listing
    • 2.2 Chart performance
    • 2.3 Personnel
  • 3 "The Unforgiven III"
    • 3.1 Chart performance
    • 3.2 Personnel
  • 4 References


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 classical guitars. The opening section contains percussive instruments performed by Ulrich, and also a small amount of keyboards.[2]

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 tour 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 which 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 which 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.


  • James Hetfield – rhythm and acoustic guitars, lead vocals
  • Kirk Hammett – lead guitar
  • Jason Newsted – bass guitar, backing vocals
  • Lars Ulrich – drums

"The Unforgiven II"

"The Unforgiven II"
Metallica - The Unforgiven II cover.jpg
Single by Metallica
from the album ReLoad
B-sideHelpless (live)/The Four Horsemen (live)/Of Wolf and Man (live)
The Thing That Should Not Be (live)/The Memory Remains (live)/King Nothing (live)
No Remorse (live)/Am I Evil? (live)/The Unforgiven II (Demo)
ReleasedFebruary 23, 1998
FormatCD single, Cassette
Recorded1996, at The Plant Studios, Sausalito, California
Writer(s)James Hetfield
Kirk Hammett
Lars Ulrich
Producer(s)Bob Rock
James Hetfield
Lars Ulrich
Metallica singles chronology

"The Unforgiven II" was written by James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich and Kirk Hammett and appears on the album ReLoad as a sequel to "The Unforgiven" (which appears on the album Metallica). Both songs have similar musical themes. The chord progression during the verses is strikingly similar to the one used in the chorus on "The Unforgiven". Over a decade later, the song was followed by a second sequel, "The Unforgiven III", from the album Death Magnetic.[15][unreliable source?]

"The Unforgiven II" video is similar to the first video's story, though a tunnel is substituted for the blank room shown in the first video. It begins with a shirtless boy stuck in a wall, showing the wall breaking piece by piece as the boy ages. As the video progresses, it becomes more abstract, with waves crashing on the other side of the wall and rupturing it, making the wall smaller each time. The final scene shows the remaining piece of the wall turning into a woman, with the now older boy's hand still embedded in her back. The boy opens his hand, allowing the woman to take the key out of his hand and allowing him to take his hand out of the wall.[16]

"The Unforgiven II" was first performed live on December 8, 1997, at that year's Billboard Music Awards. The song was not played in a live setting again for the next 17 years, until Metallica re-introduced it into the setlist for their 2015 European festival tours.[17] Following its performance in Gelsenkirchen, Germany's Rock Im Revier festival, Metallica then included it in the setlists of their next three shows.[18]


  • James Hetfield – rhythm guitar, lead vocals
  • Kirk Hammett – lead guitar
  • Jason Newsted – bass
  • Lars Ulrich – drums

"The Unforgiven III"

"The Unforgiven III"
Song by Metallica from the album Death Magnetic
ReleasedSeptember 12, 2008
GenreHeavy metal
LabelWarner Bros.
Writer(s)James Hetfield
Kirk Hammett
Lars Ulrich
Robert Trujillo
Producer(s)Rick Rubin
Death Magnetic track listing
  1. "That Was Just Your Life"
  2. "The End of the Line"
  3. "Broken, Beat & Scarred"
  4. "The Day That Never Comes"
  5. "All Nightmare Long"
  6. "Cyanide"
  7. "The Unforgiven III"
  8. "The Judas Kiss"
  9. "Suicide & Redemption"
  10. "My Apocalypse"

"The Unforgiven III" appears on the album Death Magnetic, released in 2008. It is the second sequel of the song "The Unforgiven", which appears on the album Metallica. It was preceded by the song "The Unforgiven II" (which appears on the album ReLoad). "The Unforgiven III" is structured similarly to "The Unforgiven", containing a heavy verse and a soft chorus, "The Unforgiven II" had the opposite by having a soft verse and a heavy chorus. The chorus of "The Unforgiven III" is missing the "What I've felt, what I've known" phrase which was included in its predecessors' choruses. "The Unforgiven III" is also missing the "Never Free. Never Me. So I dub thee Unforgiven" phrase which was included in the predecessors' songs. Unlike its predecessors, "The Unforgiven III" is not the 4th track off of Death Magnetic, due to the band wanting "The Day That Never Comes" to be the 4th track after they returned to writing ballads. Finally, "The Unforgiven III" is also missing the opening horn note, opening instead with an acoustic piano with a horn section in the background. The chords progression during the piano intro is the same as the choruses of the previous songs. It is the first instalment in the series not to be released as a single.

In an interview for MTV, James Hetfield said that the song is "continuation of the same storyline about sin and consequence, forgiveness and unforgiveness." Hetfield has also said that, of all parts of "The Unforgiven," this is his favourite.[21] Robert Trujillo said "it's got a great flow and it's very dynamic. It's somehow connected to the body music of the album."[22]

Stephen Thomas from AllMusic in his review of the album, described the song as having "symphonic tension" and "threading curdled blues licks through the thrash".[23] It was not released as a single, as its predecessors were. A live version was performed for the first time on April 14, 2010 in Oslo, Norway. Its last live performance to date was in Melbourne, Australia on November 21, 2010.[24] In 2010, it was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance but lost to "War Machine" by AC/DC.[25]


  • James Hetfield – rhythm guitar, lead vocals
  • Kirk Hammett – lead guitar
  • Robert Trujillo – bass
  • Lars Ulrich – drums


  1. ^ True, Chris. "Metallica: The Unforgiven". AllMusic. Retrieved June 12, 2013. 
  2. ^ Bosso, Joe. "Metallica's Black Album track-by-track". Music Radar. Retrieved June 12, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "Australia Top 50 Singles". Retrieved 2010-02-26. 
  4. ^ a b Austrian Singles Chart
  5. ^ a b Dutch Singles Chart
  6. ^ a b French Singles Chart
  7. ^ a b German Singles Chart
  8. ^ a b Ward, Jaclyn. "The Irish Charts - All there is to know". Retrieved 2011-07-15. 
  9. ^ a b Italian peaks
  10. ^ a b New Zealand Singles Chart
  11. ^ a b Swedish Singles Chart
  12. ^ Swiss Singles Chart
  13. ^ a b "The Unforgiven by Metallica Songfacts". Retrieved 2012-06-03. 
  14. ^ a b c d "Metallica – Artist chart history". Billboard charts. Retrieved March 30, 2008. 
  15. ^ Lathem, Christina. "Analysis of Metallica's "The Unforgiven II"". Yahoo. Retrieved June 12, 2013. 
  16. ^ "Metallica - The Unforgiven II (Official Music Video)". NME. Retrieved June 12, 2013. 
  17. ^ "Hear Metallica Perform 'The Unforgiven II' Live For The Second Time Ever". Billboard. Retrieved June 17, 2015. 
  18. ^ "The Unforgiven II". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  19. ^ The Official Finnish Charts
  20. ^ Norwegian Singles Chart
  21. ^ Video on YouTube
  22. ^ "Headbangers Ball > Headbangers Ball 20th Anniversary - 20 Years of Metallica". MTV. Retrieved June 12, 2013. 
  23. ^ Thomas, Stephen (September 12, 2008). "Metallica: Death Magnetic". AllMusic. Retrieved June 12, 2013. 
  24. ^ "The Unforgiven III". Retrieved June 12, 2013. 
  25. ^ "AC/DC Wins GRAMMY For 'Best Hard Rock Performance' - Jan. 31, 2010". Retrieved June 12, 2013. 
  26. ^ " – Metallica – The Unforgiven III". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved July 10, 2016.
  27. ^ " – Metallica – The Unforgiven III" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved July 10, 2016.
  28. ^ " – Metallica – The Unforgiven III". Tracklisten. Retrieved July 10, 2016.
  29. ^ "Metallica: The Unforgiven III" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland. Retrieved July 10, 2016.
  30. ^ " – Metallica – The Unforgiven III". VG-lista. Retrieved July 10, 2016.
  31. ^ " – Metallica – The Unforgiven III". Singles Top 100. Retrieved July 10, 2016.
  32. ^ Chart Log UK 1994–2010: M Retrieved July 10, 2016.

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