Metallica is set to rock the top of the Billboard 200 albums chart for a sixth time, as the band's new Hardwired… to Self-Destruct is likely to debut at No. 1 next week. Industry forecasters suggest the set, which was released on Nov. 18 through the band's own Blackened Recordings, could earn perhaps 300,000 equivalent album units in the week ending Nov. 24. Of that sum, traditional album sales could equal over 280,000.
The Billboard 200 chart ranks the most popular albums of the week based on multi-metric consumption, which includes traditional album sales, track equivalent albums (TEA) and streaming equivalent albums (SEA). The top 10 of the new Dec. 10-dated Billboard 200 chart -- where Metallica may debut at No. 1 -- is scheduled to be revealed on Billboard's websites on Sunday, Nov. 27.
Hardwired is distributed by Alternative Distribution Alliance, the indie distribution arm of Warner Music Group. Metallica had previously released its music through Warner Music's Elektra Records (beginning in 1984) and then later through Warner Bros. Records. The band renegotiated its contract with Warner Music in 1994, and that contract expired in 2012. As part of that deal, the band walked away from Warner Music with its master recordings -- like their mega-selling 1991 self-titled album (also known as The Black Album) -- which the group has since reissued on Blackened Records.
Hardwired is Metallica's first studio album since 2008's Death Magnetic, which opened at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, selling 490,000 copies in its first week, according to Nielsen Music.
Also on tap for big debuts on next week's Billboard 200 are Bruno Mars' 24K Magic and Miranda Lambert's The Weight of These Wings. Mars' new effort could bow at No. 2 with perhaps 200,000 units, while Lambert may fly in at No. 3 with around 145,000 units. If Metallica and Mars start as expected -- both north of 200,000 units -- it will mark the first time two albums have launched with at least 200,000 units since the Dec. 5, 2015-dated chart, when Justin Bieber's Purpose bowed at No. 1 with 645,000 and One Direction's Made in the A.M. debuted at No. 2 with 459,000.