Until It Sleeps

Last updated

"Until It Sleeps"
Metallica - Until It Sleeps cover.jpg
Single by Metallica
from the album Load
ReleasedMay 21, 1996 [1]
Label Elektra
Metallica singles chronology
"Sad but True"
"Until It Sleeps"
"Hero of the Day"
Music video
"Until It Sleeps" on YouTube

"Until It Sleeps" is a song by American heavy metal band Metallica, released on May 21, 1996 as the lead single from their 1996 album, Load . It was the band's first number one song on the US Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, as well as their first and only song as of the release of Hardwired... to Self-Destruct to hit the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, debuting and peaking at number 10. The song also peaked atop the charts of Australia, Sweden, and Finland, becoming the band's only number-one hit in the former two countries.

Heavy metal is a genre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the United Kingdom. With roots in blues rock, psychedelic rock, and acid rock, the bands that created heavy metal developed a thick, massive sound, characterized by highly amplified distortion, extended guitar solos, emphatic beats, and overall loudness. The genre's lyrics and performance styles are sometimes associated with aggression and machismo.

Metallica American heavy metal band

Metallica is an American heavy metal band. The band was formed in 1981 in Los Angeles, California by drummer Lars Ulrich and vocalist/guitarist James Hetfield, and has been based in San Francisco, California for most of its career. The group's fast tempos, instrumentals and aggressive musicianship made them one of the founding "big four" bands of thrash metal, alongside Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer. Metallica's current lineup comprises founding members Hetfield and Ulrich, longtime lead guitarist Kirk Hammett and bassist Robert Trujillo. Guitarist Dave Mustaine and bassists Ron McGovney, Cliff Burton and Jason Newsted are former members of the band.

A lead single is the first single to be released from a studio album, by a musician or a band, usually before the album itself is released.



The song was performed with orchestral accompaniment on the album S&M .

An early demo version of this song was entitled "F.O.B.D." (recorded on December 8, 1995), because it reminded the band members of the Soundgarden song "Fell on Black Days", in that the "It grips you...It stains you..." refrain is in the same 6/4 time signature that "Fell on Black Days" is in. The band can be heard saying "Fell on Black Days" on the fanclub-only Fancan 1 CD just prior to jamming on a portion of "Until It Sleeps". The 10" vinyl version of the single is red in color.

Moby, credited as "Herman Melville", did an industrial-sounding remix used as a B-side. [3]

Moby American musician, DJ and photographer

Richard Melville Hall, better known by his stage name Moby, is an American musician, animal rights activist and author. He has sold over 20 million records worldwide, and AllMusic considers him to be "one of the most important dance music figures of the early 1990s, helping bring the music to a mainstream audience both in the UK and in America".

Herman Melville American novelist, short story writer, essayist, and poet

Herman Melville was an American novelist, short story writer, and poet of the American Renaissance period. Among his best known works are Typee (1846), a romantic account of his experiences of Polynesian life, and his whaling novel Moby-Dick (1851).

Industrial music is a genre of experimental music which draws on harsh, transgressive or provocative sounds and themes. AllMusic defines industrial music as the "most abrasive and aggressive fusion of rock and electronic music" that was "initially a blend of avant-garde electronics experiments and punk provocation". The term was coined in the mid-1970s with the founding of Industrial Records by members of Throbbing Gristle and Monte Cazazza. While the genre name originated with Throbbing Gristle's emergence in the United Kingdom, concentrations of artists and labels vital to the genre also emerged in Chicago.

"Until It Sleeps" became the first "officially" pirated MP3 when it was released by Compress ’Da Audio (a piracy group and spinoff of the Warez scene) via an Internet Relay Chat network on August 10, 1996. An EFnet member on the #mpeg3 IRC channel named Coyote666 was responsible for creating the first mp3 ripping software. [4]

MP3 is a coding format for digital audio. Originally defined as the third audio format of the MPEG-1 standard, it was retained and further extended—defining additional bit-rates and support for more audio channels—as the third audio format of the subsequent MPEG-2 standard. A third version, known as MPEG 2.5—extended to better support lower bit rates—is commonly implemented, but is not a recognized standard.

Warez scene

The Warez scene, often referred to as The Scene, is an underground community of people that specialize in the distribution of copyrighted material, including television shows and series, movies, music, music videos, games, applications, ebooks, and pornography. The Scene is meant to be hidden from the public, only being shared with those within the community. However, as files were commonly leaked outside the community and their popularity grew, some individuals from The Scene began leaking files and uploading them to filehosts, torrents and ed2k.

Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is an application layer protocol that facilitates communication in the form of text. The chat process works on a client/server networking model. IRC clients are computer programs that users can install on their system or web based applications running either locally in the browser or on 3rd party server. These clients communicate with chat servers to transfer messages to other clients. IRC is mainly designed for group communication in discussion forums, called channels, but also allows one-on-one communication via private messages as well as chat and data transfer, including file sharing.

Music video

The song also has a music video directed by Samuel Bayer (Nirvana, Green Day, The Smashing Pumpkins). It was shot in various locations around Los Angeles on May 6 and 7 in 1996. It was premiered by MTV on May 21. [5] The video depicts surreal concepts dealing with fall of a human, taken from various paintings by Hieronymus Bosch. Apart from the general forms inspired from Bosch's paintings, the prominent figures in the video are the human-eating monster from The Garden of Earthly Delights , the fall of Adam and Eve from Haywain and Christ in the Crucifige Eum (Crucify Him) scene of Ecce Homo .

Samuel Bayer American film editor and cinematographer

Samuel David Bayer is an American visual artist, cinematographer, and commercial, music video and film director. Bayer was born in Syracuse, New York. He graduated from New York City's School of Visual Arts in 1987 with a degree in Fine Arts. He relocated to Los Angeles in 1991, where he continues to live and work.

Nirvana (band) American rock band

Nirvana was an American rock band formed in Aberdeen, Washington, in 1987. It was founded by lead singer and guitarist Kurt Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic. Nirvana went through a succession of drummers, the longest-lasting and best-known being Dave Grohl, who joined in 1990. Though the band dissolved in 1994 after the death of Cobain, their music maintains a popular following and continues to influence modern rock and roll culture.

Green Day American rock band

Green Day is an American rock band formed in 1986 by lead vocalist and guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong and bassist Mike Dirnt. For much of the band's career, they have been a trio with drummer Tré Cool, who replaced John Kiffmeyer in 1990 prior to the recording of the band's second studio album, Kerplunk (1991).


The video of the song won the MTV Video Music Award for Best Rock Video in 1996.

The song won a 1996 Metal Edge Readers' Choice Award for Song of the Year. [6]

Track listing

US single
1."Until It Sleeps"4:36
International single part one
1."Until It Sleeps"4:33
2."2 X 4" (Live - Escape from the studio '95)6:06
3."F.O.B.D." (aka Until It Sleeps – early 'writing in progress' version)4:56
International single part two
1."Until It Sleeps"4:36
2."Kill/Ride Medley" (Live - Escape from the studio '95)10:19
3."Until It Sleeps" (Herman Melville Mix)4:20
Japanese EP
1."Until It Sleeps"4:35
2."Until It Sleeps" (Herman Melville Mix)4:22
3."Kill/Ride Medley" (Live - Escape from the studio '95)10:19
4."2 X 4" (Live - Escape from the studio '95)6:08
5."Overkill" (Live)4:11
6."F.O.B.D." (aka Until It Sleeps – early 'writing in progress' version)4:56

Charts and certifications

Release history

Worldwide (except North America)May 20, 1996
United StatesMay 21, 1996

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