Metallica has been named one of the best groups ever; even those far from metal know their hits and logo. It is not surprising: the musicians left the narrow niche and became the bestselling thrash metal group. Millions of Metallica’s albums are sold all over the world, and crowds of fans love them. The band has also been included into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The history of the group. The group members
The group’s story began in the early 1980s when its members had not even turned 20. Young and daring, the artists did what they liked and felt they could do anything. The group’s founder, James Hetfield, wrote in his graduation prompt he was going to become a rock star.
The future frontman of the legendary group spent his childhood in Los Angeles. The boy inherited his mother’s abilities. The woman was an opera theater singer and introduced a strict religious order based on the Christian Science views to her son’s life. When the mother died, James was a rebellious teenager: the hooligan was involved in petty theft and marihuana sales. However, the young man did not go too far: his earlier interest in music was stronger.
Hetfield started with the piano, switched to the drums, and then began to play the guitar that became his companion up until now. In 1981, James and his friend, the drummer Lars Ulrich, put an advertisement in a newspaper to find groupmates.
Ulrich was born in Denmark. As a child, he was mesmerized by rock’n’roll: the nine-year-old boy visited the concert of Deep Purple for the first time in his life and felt “hypnotized”. At the same time, he was interested in tennis and followed his father’s example: Torben Ulrich was a professional athlete who participated in many prestigious tournaments and became the champion of the country. The man was also fond of jazz, and Lars could see how sports and love for music could be combined. The latter path turned out to be more attractive to the young man: he noticed that the most beautiful girls were hanging out with rockers.
Initially, the musicians named their group Thunderfuck; they were considering other options until Ulrich’s friend asked them to help create the title of the music magazine he wanted to publish.
“Metallica” was one of the possibilities. Lars liked this name so much that he convinced his friend it was absolutely unfit for a magazine – and took it. Thus, the group playing metal got the corresponding name.
Dave Mustaine was the first lead guitarist who joined the team; later, he left and organized Megadeth. Kirk Hammett replaced him. Further on, the bassist Cliff Burton came instead of Ron McGovney.
Cliff’s skills were impressive, and the musicians needed him. However, he refused to move to Los Angeles. The band grabbed their belongings and moved to their friend in San Francisco; the city became their home. This lineup recorded three albums that brought international fame.
It was the period of limitless alcohol consumption; the artists preferred it to food and insisted it was much more nutritious. The British hard-rock pioneers Motörhead and Diamond Head, as well as Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden, were their icons.
In 1986, Metallica had to go through the tragedy: during a European tour, the musician’s bus flipped over because of the slippery road. September 27, 1986, was the last day in Cliff Burton’s life: he died of multiple traumas. After the catastrophe, Metallica was at a crossroads and even considered finishing the career. The young men were depressed and only reduced their pain with alcohol; they treated everybody, including themselves, as petty creatures.
Jason Newsted replaced Cliff; he was the group’s fan and admired Burton. The bassist surpassed 40 candidates and got accepted, yet his life in the team did not go well. The artists vented their anger fueled by grief on the newbie; although Jason spent 14 years in Metallica, he left in 2001 because of personal disagreement with Hetfield. The atmosphere in the group was frustrating.
In 2003, the Mexican Robert Trujillo joined the group as a bassist; he had collaborated with Ozzy Osbourne before. By that moment, the three oldies realized how dangerous their alcohol and drug issues were and took a rehab program. The new member fit in the group well; he is the permanent musician of Metallica today who plays the bass guitar and works as a lead backup singer.
Just like many inexperienced musicians, Metallica practiced with covers at first. At the beginning of 1982, their song “Hit the Lights” was included in the collection Metal Massacre that contained various heavy-metal group’s tracks. Other famous bands, like Slayer, Overkill, and Trouble, debuted the same way. Besides, Metallica recorded the demo No Life ‘Till Leather and started giving first concerts.
The first full-fledged album Kill ‘Em All was released in 1983 but was not distributed to the broader audience. The following work Ride the Lightning did not sell well, but some thrash metal lovers appreciated it.
The group broke into the world of music in 1986 when Master of Puppets was presented; this album is still considered their best disc. The sounding was fresh and driving; the virtuoso performance and in-depth lyrics were also notable.
The song “One” from …And Justice for All (1988) brought the artists the first Grammy; this prize became the regular achievement of the group in a while. “Blackened” and other tracks about anarchy and political injustice also appeared there.
1991 brought the fifth album with the minimalist black cover The Black Album. This work was supposed to be an experiment but helped the group leave the narrow thrash niche and step into the international rock stage; Metallica became the iconic figure of the 20th century. The disc could boast numerous hits: “Enter Sandman”, “The Unforgiven”, and “Nothing Else Matters” that showed the musicians as the masters of ballads and acoustics.
The release made the band so popular that it was more than difficult to surpass themselves. The next two albums failed to do that. In the late 1990s, the collaboration release with the San Francisco symphony orchestra S&M and the cover collection Garage Inc. were the most successful projects; the latter disc included the hit “Die Die My Darling”.
The 2000s were marked with two albums: St. Anger (2003) and Death Magnetic (2008). Although they were not revolutionary for the present-day music, fans were grateful and welcomed the release enthusiastically.
In 2013, the feature movie Metallica: Through the Never was presented; it was the mixture of cinematography and concert accompanied by the adventure plot. It was a beautiful gift for fans.
Although the 1980s-1990s were full of the drunken rage, these years proved to be the most fruitful time and made the band iconic. Today, Metallica continues to create new music and give shows for millions of fans. As in 2019, the group consists of four members: the vocalist and rhythm guitarist James Hetfield, the solo guitarist Kirk Hammett, the drummer Lars Ulrich, and the bassist Robert Trujillo.
The intervals between Metallica’s releases get more extended: new albums used to appear every two or three years; today, they come out every five-eight years. The most recent disc Hardwired...To Self-Destruct came out in 2016 and debuted from the first position in Billboard 200; it became platinum later. The collection included the live version of “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and two discs; the overall playing time was 80 minutes.
Following the new release, the musicians went to the WorldWired 2017 tour and visited 25 cities. Since that time, Metallica has been touring with few breaks; however, they revealed they were going to work on the eleventh album soon.
Fans were glad to hear the news; one can follow the group’s events and see new photos on the official Instagram page. There are many music videos and concert cuts there; one can see the artists’ hearts are young, and they bring much fire to their shows.
On July 21, 2019, Metallica gave a concert in Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow; it was a part of WorldWired Tour. Ghost and Bokassa opened the show. Russian fans received a wonderful surprise: the group performed the song “Blood Type” by Viktor Tsoi.
- 1983 – Kill ‘em All
- 1984 - Ride the Lightning
- 1986 - Master of Puppets
- 1988 - …And Justice for All
- 1991 - Metallica (The Black Album)
- 1996 - Load
- 1997 - Reload
- 2003 - St. Anger
- 2008 - Death Magnetic
- 2016 - Hardwired...To Self-Destruct
- “Nothing Else Matters”
- “Enter Sandman”
- “Atlas, Rise!”
- “Spit Out the Bone”
- “The Unforgiven”
- “Moth Into Flame”
- “The Day That Never Comes”
- “Mama Said”
- “Some Kind Of Monster”