Metallica scores its sixth No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 chart with the arrival of Hardwired… to Self-Destruct. The set debuts atop the list with 291,000 equivalent album units earned in the week ending Nov. 24, according to Nielsen Music. Of that sum, 282,000 were in traditional album sales. Hardwired was released on Metallica's own Blackened Records on Nov. 18.
The Billboard 200 chart ranks the most popular albums of the week in the U.S. based on multi-metric consumption, which includes traditional album sales, track equivalent albums (TEA) and streaming equivalent albums (SEA). The new Dec. 10-dated chart (where Metallica launches at No. 1) will be posted in full to Billboard's websites on Tuesday, Nov. 29.
Hardwired's start is the third-largest debut of 2016 - both in terms of overall units and traditional album sales - behind only the arrivals of Drake's Views (1.04 million units; 852,000 in sales) and Beyonce's Lemonade (653,000 units; 485,000 sales).
Further, Hardwired sold more in its first week than any rock album in two-and-a-half years. The last rock album to sell more in a single week was Coldplay's Ghost Stories, which bowed with 382,000 copies sold on the chart dated June 7, 2014.
Hardwired is Metallica's first studio album since 2008's Death Magnetic, which also bowed at No. 1, with 490,000 copies sold in its first week. Metallica's last six studio albums, stretching back to its self-titled album (usually referred to as The Black Album) in 1991, have debuted at No. 1. Before Death Magnetic, the band topped the chart with St. Anger (in 2003), Reload (1997), Load (1996) and Metallica (1991).
Following Death Magnetic, the group released a collaborative album with Lou Reed (Lulu in 2011, which peaked at No. 36), an EP (Beyond Magnetic in 2012, No. 29) and the soundtrack to the documentary Metallica: Through the Never (2013; No. 9).
Hardwired was led at radio by its title track, which became the band's eighth No. 1 on the Mainstream Rock Songs airplay chart (Oct. 8). The track also hit No. 9 on the Hot Rock Songs chart.
Hardwired also bows at No. 1 on the Independent Albums chart, as the set 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 act walked away from Warner Music with its master recordings - like their mega-selling 1991 self-titled album - which the group has since reissued on Blackened Records.
At No. 2 on the new Billboard 200, Bruno Mars' 24K Magic debuts with 231,000 units (194,000 in traditional album sales - Mars' best sales week yet). It's his third studio album, and all three have debuted in the top three on the chart.
24K Magic follows 2012's Unorthodox Jukebox, which opened at No. 2 with 192,000 in sales and reached No. 1 the following year. Before that, Mars' debut full-length set, 2010's Doo-Wops & Hooligans, bowed and peaked at No. 2 (55,000 in its first week, later seeing its best frame over Christmas of that year: 84,000). The albums have sold 2.51 and 2.54 million copies, respectively, to date.
24K Magic's title track (and lead single) gave Mars his 13th top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and has so far peaked at No. 5.
As Metallica and Mars both bow with more than 200,000 units for their respective albums, it marks the first time two albums have simultaneously launched with at least 200,000 in a year. (We've had a number of albums bow with 200,000 or more in 2016 - like Drake's Views and Beyonce's Lemonade - but they all arrived in separate weeks.) It last happened on the Dec. 5, 2015-dated chart, when Justin Bieber's Purpose bowed at No. 1 with 645,000 (522,000 in sales) and One Direction's Made in the A.M. debuted at No. 2 with 459,000 (402,000 in sales).
Next up on the new Billboard 200, Miranda Lambert notches the highest charting country album from a female artist in more than a year, as her new The Weight of These Wings debuts at No. 3 with 133,000 units (122,000 in traditional album sales). The last woman to rank higher on the chart with a country album was Carrie Underwood, who saw her Storyteller album spend its first two weeks on the chart at No. 2 (Nov. 14-21, 2015). It was also the last country album by a woman to launch with a bigger unit total and sales start: 177,000 units and 164,000 copies sold.
The Weight of These Wings, a double album, is Lambert's sixth studio effort. It's her fifth consecutive top 10-charting album, following Platinum (No. 1 in 2014), Four the Record (No. 3, 2011), Revolution (No. 8, 2009) and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (No. 6, 2007). Her first album, Kerosene, debuted and peaked at No. 18 in 2005.
The new album's first single, "Vice," reached No. 2 on the Hot Country Songs chart back in August, marking Lambert's 13th top 10 hit.
As Metallica, Mars and Lambert all launch with more than 100,000 copies sold of their albums, it's the first time in a year that three titles have each concurrently debuted with 100,000 sold. It last happened on the Dec. 5, 2015-dated chart, when Bieber's Purpose and One Direction's Made in the A.M. bowed at Nos. 1 and 2 with 522,000 and 402,000 copies sold, respectively, followed by Logic's The Incredible True Story, which bowed at No. 3 with 118,000 sold.
Back on the new Billboard 200, Pentatonix's A Pentatonix Christmas dips 2-4 with 101,000 units (though it's up 80 percent) and A Tribe Called Quest's We Got it From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service falls 1-5 in its second week (59,000 units, down 56 percent). The soundtrack to Trolls moves 3-6 with 53,000 units (up 12 percent) while Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood's collaborative holiday album, Christmas Together, rises 11-7 with 39,000 units (up 84 percent). The latter set gives Brooks his 17th top 10 album, and Yearwood her third (and first since 2005's No. 4-peaking Jasper County).
Rounding out the top 10 are Rae Sremmurd's Sremmlife 2 (4-8 with a little more than 38,000 units, down 11 percent), the original Broadway cast recording of Hamilton (6-9 with 38,000 units, up 24 percent) and Drake's Views (5-10 with 34,000 units, up 8 percent). Hamilton likely rises thanks to publicity generated by the brouhaha over vice president-elect Mike Pence's visit to the show on Nov. 11.