was the most influential heavy metal band of the '80s. The band
was formed in Los Angeles, California in 1981 by drummer and former
tennis prodigy Lars Ulrich, and guitarist and vocalist James Hetfield,
who met after each had separately placed classified advertisements
in the American publication The Recycler. Bassist Ron McGovney
was also an original member, and the band used a few transient
guitar players, such as Brad Parker and Jef Warner, in the course
of settling on a four-person lineup.
got its name when drummer Lars Ulrich was helping San Francisco-area
metal promoter Ron Quintana pick out a name for a new magazine
to promote metal and the NWOBHM (New Wave Of British Heavy Metal)
bands. Quintana came up with a suggestion "Metallica,"
but Lars quickly suggested another and decided to use that name
for the band he and James Hetfield had just started.
In early 1982,
Metallica recorded "Hit the Lights" for the first Metal
Massacre compilation. Guitarist Lloyd Grant was brought in to
do the lead guitar solos on the track but was never a full member
of the band. Desperate for a full-time lead guitarist, Ulrich
posted an ad in the local newspapers. Dave Mustaine, a guitarist
from the band Panic responded, and upon arrival started a sound
check. Ulrich and Hetfield were so impressed with Mustaine's soundcheck
that they immediately asked him to join. A few months later the
band recorded a full demo, No Life Till Leather, which quickly
drew attention on the underground tape trading circuit. By this
point bassist Cliff Burton had also joined Metallica, lured from
his band Trauma in exchange for the other members of Metallica
relocating to the San Francisco area.
in San Francisco, the group quickly built a healthy local following
in the Bay Area Thrash scene via word-of-mouth and live performances.
Metallica then travelled to New York in 1983 at the urging of
local promoters Jon and Marsha Zazula, and after a few gigs the
band signed with the Zazulas' brand new label, Megaforce Records.
Megaforce released Metallica's first two albums. Shortly after
arriving in New York, Mustaine was fired due to various disruptive,
unproductive behaviours all related to alcoholism and other addictions.
Kirk Hammett was drafted from Exodus to replace him. Mustaine
would go on to create the speed metal band Megadeth.
first album, Kill 'Em All, set the template that they would follow
throughout the 1980s, prominently featuring the heavy vocals and
rhythm guitar of James Hetfield. A year later, the next album,
Ride the Lightning, expanded and improved their form with longer
songs that featured both instrumental pyrotechnics and lyrics
which rose above some of the more puerile songs on Kill 'Em All.
most significant feature of Ride the Lightning was the inclusion
of "Fade to Black," a slower, more interior song that
mused on the thoughts of someone contemplating suicide, written
after a series of band setbacks including the 1984 theft of the
equipment used to record Kill 'Em All. Indeed "Fade to Black"
is the first such song in a tradition of these kinds of songs
that would come to include "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)"
and the band's first single to receive a video, "One."
The inclusion of these slower, introspective songs distinguished
Metallica from most other thrash metal bands such as Anthrax,
Slayer, and Megadeth.
formation was seen by some fans as a direct reaction to the prevalent
rock and roll music of the early 1980s. Inspired by bands such
as Motörhead, Diamond Head and Saxon, the so-called New Wave
of British Heavy Metal, as well as hardcore punk like the Misfits
and Discharge, Metallica was single-minded in their desire to
break the grip of soft metal on heavy metal fans.
a major label deal with Elektra Records in 1984, Metallica went
on to produce another album, Master of Puppets, released in February
1986 and regarded by many of their fans as their best work. However,
on September 27th of that year, during a European leg of shows,
bassist Cliff Burton was killed in a tour bus accident in Ljungby,
of a psychological defence against the potentially debilitating
grief that now surrounded them, the band immediately found a new
bassist in Jason Newsted, formerly of Flotsam and Jetsam. Shortly
thereafter Metallica released The $5.98 EP: Garage Days Re-Revisited
as a preliminary effort with their new member. This album continued
the band's interest in recording obscure songs by relatively obscure
(to American audiences) British metal and hardcore bands. In 1988
they recorded ...And Justice for All, an album full of some of
the band's most structurally complex music.
The band actually
refuses to play many of the songs from this album live because
of its complex structures: an amusing example of the wisdom of
this stance can be seen on the Live Shit: Binge & Purge DVD,
in which the band becomes quickly lost in an attempt to play the
track "The Frayed Ends of Sanity." Critics regarded
...And Justice for All as a milestone in the history of metal,
noting its intense focus on topics related to personal control
and independence. Importantly, many writers also celebrated this
album (and, by extension, Metallica itself) for the way it appeared
to divorce hard rock from the blues in ways bands such as Mötley
Crüe or Poison resisted.Also,the production of this album
was heavily criticised as Lars Ulrich's drums clicked more than
thudded and the guitars had a thin sound to them.James Hetfield
excelled himself,however,with some of the best riffery heard in
metal music.Kirk Hammett's solos were innovative and Lars' drumming
In 1991, the
self-titled album, Metallica (popularly known as The Black Album)
broadened the band's horizon again. The record was co-produced
with Bob Rock, whose resume included work on albums by such pop-metal
acts as Bon Jovi and Mötley Crüe, to create a more commercially
viable product. The album featured a black cover that evoked humorous
comparisons to Spinal Tap. The album featured the hits "Enter
Sandman", which exemplified the radically pared-down style
of songwriting across the album, and "Nothing Else Matters",
a more plaintive, acoustic ballad that outraged some of their
more hardcore fans. The album was a massive crossover hit, bringing
Metallica firmly into the mainstream, and it was with this album
that the band first encountered significant accusations of having
"sold out." Charges of selling out would follow Metallica
throughout the 1990s.
Burnt out from almost
three years of touring upon the Black Album's success, Metallica
took a respite until late 1995, when they came back into the studio
with a new zest for recording. Ulrich and Hetfield, both of whom
were very strict on Hammett and Newsted in previous endeavours,
claimed to have loosened the reins somewhat. The resulting albums,
Load (1996) and Reload (1997) represented a significant musical
change for Metallica. The band's breakneck metal tempos and layered
guitar compositions had largely been replaced by bluesy rock songs,
full of bent notes, warm guitar tone, slide guitar, and shuffle
and swing rhythms. Hetfield's vocals took a larger role than ever
before, and several songs (such as "Mama Said" and "Low
Man's Lyric") showed the band's willingness to experiment
with drastic stylistic changes. The intricacy and intelligence
of Metallica's songwriting had not been watered down, but it had
been presented in a radically different - or perhaps simply radically
more varied - stylistic package.
Many of these changes
had been anticipated by earlier experiments (especially on the
Black Album), but listeners generally regard Load and Reload as
the band's turning point. This perception may be due to the fact
that with these albums, Metallica also reinvented their visual
image: the CD booklet for Load contained many controversial photographs
of the band, taken by Anton Corbijn. The band members - who had
recently cut their hair - were depicted wearing pimp suits, smoking
cigars, and sipping brandy, sometimes wearing heavy makeup. Previously
rabid fans began to sarcastically refer to the band as "Poptallica"
or "Alternica" in light of the band's appearing to conform
to the more mainstream style of pop or alternative rock music.
In spite of, or because
of, these changes, Load and ReLoad spawned a plethora of radio
hits, including "Fuel," "Until it Sleeps,"
and "The Memory Remains." Many in the band's thrash
metal fanbase remained hostile and cited these songs as "proof"
that the band had sold out. Metallica, according to them, was
no longer playing metal. Rather than the fan base shrinking, though,
it actually swelled, fueled by a turnover stratified by taste
that was somewhat akin to a change in generations. For each disappointed
headbanger that regarded Load as Metallica's worst offering, there
was a new listener who had been grabbed by it and saw it as their
In 1998 Metallica returned
briefly to its role as a cover band and compiled a double CD called
Garage Inc.. The first CD contained newly recorded tracks, ranging
from obvious Metallica influences such as Danzig, Thin Lizzy and
Sabbath to more unexpected choices such as Bob Seger and Nick
Cave. The second CD gathered together previously released covers,
including the complete Garage Days Re-Revisited EP, which had
at that point become a scarce collectors' item, as well as a collection
of b-sides going as far back as 1984.
On April 21-22,
1999, Metallica recorded two performances with the San Francisco
Symphony Orchestra, then conducted by Michael Kamen. Kamen, who
had previously worked with the band on "Nothing Else Matters"
from The Black Album, had approached the band shortly after that
collaboration with the idea of pairing Metallica's music with
a symphony orchestra. Kamen and his staff composed additional
orchestral material for a number of Metallica songs, and the concerts
featured a collection of tracks dating as far back as Ride the
Lightning. Metallica also wrote (and Kamen scored) two brand new
songs for the event, "No Leaf Clover" and "- Human."
The recording was eventually released as the album S&M in
November 1999 on CD, VHS, and DVD..
In 2000, Metallica
discovered that a demo of their song "I Disappear" had
been floating across the Napster file-sharing network. They soon
discovered that their entire catalogue was also freely available.
The band immediately determined to sue Napster and in the process
asked that 300,000 Napster users found to be trading Metallica
songs be kicked off the network. In 2001 Metallica and Napster
agreed to an out-of-court settlement, and the band never actually
sued any fans for copyright infringement. Nevertheless, the controversy
created a public relations nightmare. In particular, Lars Ulrich
found himself portrayed as a greedy and pretentious rock star
completely out of touch with his fans. Many saw him as a pawn
of the record industry, supporting the right of the labels to
charge high prices as the middle men.
support him when it comes to illegal music sharing, believing
that he tried to do what he could to save the music industry.
He is posted as a symbol against illegal music on the Internet
and the phrase "The man who started the fight against illegal
file-sharing" is used. The people who support him believe
that piracy and illegal file-sharing are damaging the music industry.
Before they went into
the studio to record their next album in 2001, Jason Newsted left
the band, ostensibly due to "the physical damage I have done
to myself over the years while playing the music that I love."
However, subsequent interviews with Newsted and the remaining
members revealed that Newsted's desire to release and tour with
his Echobrain side-project — and Hetfield's intense resistance
to such an idea — was the primary cause of Newsted's departure.
a low-point in recent Metallica history, as Hetfield soon entered
rehab due to "alcoholism and other addictions" in July
2001. For nearly a year the entity known as "Metallica"
ceased to function in any meaningful way, and Ulrich and Hammett
for the first time seriously considered the possibility that Metallica
might be finished. Upon Hetfield's return, though, the band slowly
and cautiously continued as an incomplete 3-piece throughout the
writing and recording of their next album. Longtime producer Bob
Rock handled bass duties for the sessions.
eventually found a new member in early 2003, bassist Rob Trujillo
(ex-Suicidal Tendencies), who was then playing with Ozzy Osbourne's
band and touring with Zakk Wylde in Black Label Society (He appears
in Black Label Society's DVD Boozed, Broozed, and Broken Boned).
In an interesting turn of events, Jason Newsted, who had joined
Canadian heavy metal band Voivod, filled Rob's shoes playing bass
for Ozzy during the Ozzfest 2003 tour (which Voivod also supported).
In June 2003,
Metallica released their eighth full-length studio album, St.
Anger. The album debuted at number one on the album charts, heralded
as the band's most aggressive album in over a decade. Metallica
seemed to have recorded an intentionally "raw" and unpolished
album as a response to critics' complaints that they had lost
their edge. Harsh criticism followed, however, for the record's
underproduced sound (notably the sound of Ulrich's snare drum
and Hetfield's "flexible" sense of pitch), overwrought
songs, and total lack of guitar solos.
Metallica won a Grammy in 2004 for St. Anger, the band's seventh
such award.The movie Some Kind Of Monster followed the album and
offered an inside view into the daily affairs of Metallica like
never before.It focussed on the growing tensions within the band.Also
,it fulfilled its actual purpose-the making of St.Anger.Many fans
who had previously blasted St.Anger felt themselves going back
to give the record a second chance.
the songs had a new meaning to them.In an interview James Hetfield
said that he felt that St.Anger was similar to "Justice".The
song "Dirty Window" in particular had a similar feel
along with the sudden changes of tempo that had made Metallica