Metallica

Nancy Kaszerman/ZumaPress.com

There's no doubt that Death becomes Metallica, much to the chagrin of Jessica Simpson.

Metallica's first new album in half a decade, Death Magnetic, shot straight to No. 1, despite only being on sale for three days. The powerhouse band finished the week ended Sunday selilng 490,000 copies, per Nielsen SoundScan, making it the third largest rock debut of the year.

Simpson, meanwhile, saw her foray into country, Do You Know, only lasso a No. 4 debut with sales of 65,000 (and that was in a full week), a significant sales drop from her last pop album, 2006's A Public Affair, which sold 101,000 in its open.

Death Magnetic makes Metallica the first group to score five No. 1 debuts on the Billboard 200, a feat they accomplished with successive albums. The metal icons had been tied at four with the Beatles, U2 and the Dave Matthews Band.

Even in an marketplace where album sales have fallen sharply in recent years, the long wait for Death Magnetic helped the band score its biggest open in a dozen years. The album sold more first-week copies than 2003's St. Anger and 1997's Re-Load, but fewer than Load's 680,000-copy bow in '96. Fittingly, Load also debuted after a five-year wait.

Death Magnetic was originally scheduled to debut in stores yesterday, but the band's record label pushed the release up four days to Friday. The shortened sales period makes Death's opening numbers all the more striking.

Young Jeezy, who crowned last week's chart, dropped to No. 2 selling another 90,000 copies of The Recession. While the album experienced a big sales skid between weeks, it could've been worse: New Kids on the Block's The Block spiraled down 15 spots to No. 16 in its second week.

In sticking with the glass-half-full theme, Simpson did manage a consolation prize: Do You Know did have enough juice to top the country charts.

The week's final Top 10 bow belonged to L.L. Cool J. The rap icon's Exit 13 sold 44,000 copies at No. 9.

Former Halle Berry beau Eric Benét just missed the Top 10 as Love & Life moved 40,000 copies at No. 11. Though not a career high in sales, Love & Life gave the singer a new chart high. The R&B crooner previously peaked at No. 25 with 1999's A Day in the Life.

Other strong debuts included Gym Class Heroes' The Quilt at No. 14, Mitch Hedberg's posthumous comedy album Do You Believe in Gosh? at No. 18 and Natalie Cole's covers album Still Unforgettable at No. 19.

Overall, album sales were up a tick from last week but down 25 percent compared to the same week last year, when Kanye West's Graduation topped 50 Cent's Curtis in one of the biggest chart battles in recent history.

Here's a recap of the Top 10:

1. Death Magnetic, Metallica
2. The Recession, Young Jeezy
3. Rock N Roll Jesus, Kid Rock
4. Do You Know, Jessica Simpson
5. All Hope Is Gone, Slipknot
6. A Little Bit Longer, Jonas Brothers
7. LAX, The Game
8. Tha Carter III, Lil Wayne
9. Exit 13, L.L. Cool J
10. Mamma Mia! soundtrack, various

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