Frank Erwin CenterWednesday, April 30

There's an old music business adage that selling a million albums is the easy part and subsequent sales of two or three million is the battle. "Where we are, 10 or 15 [million], is another whole trip altogether," says Metallica bassist Jason Newsted. "Once you're on the top of the hill, the fight is just to stay there."

While Soundgarden succumbed to the battle earlier this month after a 12-year run, Metallica turns Sweet 16 this year with a huge arena tour, a tight summer schedule of European festival gigs, and plans to follow up last year's Load with the year-end release of Re-Load, the band's seventh full-length.

Whatever the secret of their longevity, Metallica's 16th birthday has definitely brought with it the unlikely aura of adulthood -- respectability; earlier this year, even Pat Boone got in the act, interpreting "Enter Sandman" for his In a Metal Mood (see "Record Reviews"). Even better, Apocalyptica, a Finnish quartet of cello players, just released an entire album of classically interpreted Metallica covers. And even if the album wasn't titled Cellos Up Your Ass, isn't it a sign that Metallica has become another institution that even parents can respect?

"It's really cool for the kids to get a little bit of culture and appreciate the work that goes into that kind of instrument," says Newsted about Apocalyptica, adding that the group recently opened a string of Scandinavian Metallica dates to rave reviews. "The regular Metallica fan probably wouldn't even bother with that kind of thing. But their interpretation is amazing.... Anybody can play "For Whom the Bell Tolls" in a bar or club and sound just like the Ride the Lightning album, but playing something that's your own flavor of something else is -- in my mind -- at least a couple steps forward." -- Andy Langer

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