According to Billboard.bizMETALLICA is the third-best-selling artist of the SoundScan era, with 54.26 million albums sold since 1991. Garth Brooks boasts the most albums sold, with 69.52 million. THE BEATLES ranks second (65.55 million), while Mariah Carey (54.24 million) and Celine Dion (52.21 million) round out the top five.

The Nielsen SoundScan system began compiling sales electronically 23 years ago on a weekly basis, providing more accurate sales figures that form the basis for the Billboard music charts.

As previously reported, METALLICA‘s self-titled 1991 album should surpass 16 million copies sold in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan, in about three or four months at its current rate of sales (about 2,000 to 3,000 per week).

The set — often referred to as “the black album” — was already certified 16 times platinum on December 13, 2012 by the RIAA (Recording Industry Association Of America) for shipments in excess of 16 million copies in the U.S.

“Metallica” in 2009 surpassed SHANIA TWAIN‘s 1997 record, “Come On Over”, as the best-selling CD of the SoundScan era.

Although METALLICA had scored their first radio and video airplay with their previous effort, 1988’s “…And Justice For All”, the black album was the band’s biggest commercial breakthrough, producing five singles and making them into one of the most popular rock bands in the world.

The album was the first of four collaborations with producer Bob Rock, with whom the band clashed throughout the recording of the disc.

METALLICA performed “the black album” in its entirety at a number of European festivals in 2012.