Metallica: Kill’Em All-80’s-1983.

Metallica is an American heavy metal band. The band was formed in 1981 in Los Angeles by vocalist/guitarist James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich, and has been based in San Francisco for most of its career.[1][2] The band’s fast tempos, instrumentals and aggressive musicianship made them one of the founding “big four” bands of thrash metal, alongside MegadethAnthrax and Slayer. Metallica’s current lineup comprises founding members and primary songwriters Hetfield and Ulrich, longtime lead guitarist Kirk Hammett, and bassist Robert Trujillo. Guitarist Dave Mustaine (who went on to form Megadeth after being fired from the band) and bassists Ron McGovneyCliff Burton (who died in a bus accident in Sweden in 1986) and Jason Newsted are former members of the band.

Metallica earned a growing fan base in the underground music community and won critical acclaim with its first five albums.[3] The band’s third album, Master of Puppets (1986), was described as one of the heaviest and most influential thrash metal albums. Its eponymous fifth album, Metallica (1991), the band’s first not to root predominantly in thrash metal, appealed to a more mainstream audience, achieving substantial commercial success and selling over 16 million copies in the United States to date, making it the best-selling album of the SoundScan era. After experimenting with different genres and directions in subsequent releases, the band returned to its thrash metal roots with the release of its ninth album, Death Magnetic (2008), which drew similar praise to that of the band’s earlier albums. Their most recent album is Hardwired… to Self-Destruct, released in 2016.

In 2000, Metallica led the case against the peer-to-peer file sharing service Napster, in which the band and several other artists filed lawsuits against the service for sharing their copyright-protected material without consent; after reaching a settlement, Napster became a pay-to-use service in 2003. Metallica was the subject of the acclaimed 2004 documentary film Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, which documented the troubled production of the band’s eighth album, St. Anger (2003), and the internal struggles within the band at the time. In 2009, Metallica was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The band wrote the screenplay for and starred in the 2013 IMAX concert film Metallica: Through the Never, in which the band performed live against a fictional thriller storyline.

Metallica has released ten studio albums, four live albums, a cover album, five extended plays, 37 singles and 39 music videos. The band has won nine Grammy Awards from 23 nominations, and its last six studio albums (beginning with Metallica) have consecutively debuted at number one on the Billboard 200. Metallica ranks as one of the most commercially successful bands of all time, having sold over 125 million albums worldwide as of 2018.[4] Metallica has been listed as one of the greatest artists of all time by magazines such as Rolling Stone, which ranked them at no. 61 on its 100 Greatest Artists of All Time list.[5] As of 2017, Metallica is the third best-selling music artist since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking sales in 1991,[6] selling a total of 58 million albums in the United States.[7]

1981–1984: Formation, early years, and Kill ‘Em All

The classic Metallica logo, designed by James Hetfield and used on most of the band’s releases.[8][9]

Metallica was formed in Los Angeles in late 1981 when Danish drummer Lars Ulrich placed an advertisement in a Los Angeles newspaper, The Recycler, which read, “Drummer looking for other metal musicians to jam with Tygers of Pan TangDiamond Head and Iron Maiden.”[10] Guitarists James Hetfield and Hugh Tanner of Leather Charm answered the advertisement. Although he had not formed a band, Ulrich asked Metal Blade Records founder Brian Slagel if he could record a song for the label’s upcoming compilation album, Metal Massacre. Slagel accepted, and Ulrich recruited Hetfield to sing and play rhythm guitar.[10] The band was officially formed on October 28, 1981, five months after Ulrich and Hetfield first met.[11][12]

Metallica founding members James Hetfield (top) and Lars Ulrich (bottom)

The band name came from Ulrich’s friend Ron Quintana, who was brainstorming names for a fanzine and was considering MetalMania or Metallica. After hearing the two names, Ulrich wanted Metallica for his band, so he suggested Quintana use MetalMania instead.[13] Dave Mustaine replied to an advertisement for a lead guitarist; Ulrich and Hetfield recruited him after seeing his expensive guitar equipment. In early 1982, Metallica recorded its first original song, “Hit the Lights”, for the Metal Massacre I compilation. Hetfield played bass, rhythm guitar and sang while Lloyd Grant was credited with a guitar solo and Lars Ulrich played drums.[10] Metal Massacre I was released on June 14, 1982; early pressings listed the band incorrectly as “Mettallica”, angering the band.[14] The song generated word of mouth and the band played its first live performance on March 14, 1982, at Radio City in Anaheim, California, with newly recruited bassist Ron McGovney.[15] Their first live success came early; they were chosen to open for British heavy metal band Saxon at one gig of their 1982 US tour. This was Metallica’s second gig. Metallica recorded its first demo, Power Metal, whose name was inspired by Quintana’s early business cards in early 1982.

The term “thrash metal” was coined in February 1984 by Kerrang! journalist Malcolm Dome in reference to Anthrax‘s song “Metal Thrashing Mad“.[16] Prior to this, Hetfield referred to Metallica’s sound as “power metal“. In late 1982, Ulrich and Hetfield attended a show at the West Hollywood nightclub Whisky a Go Go, which featured bassist Cliff Burton in the band Trauma. The two were “blown away” by Burton’s use of a wah-wah pedal and asked him to join Metallica. Hetfield and Mustaine wanted McGovney to leave because they thought he “didn’t contribute anything, he just followed”.[17] Although Burton initially declined the offer, by the end of the year, he had accepted on the condition the band move to El Cerrito in the San Francisco Bay Area.[17] Metallica’s first live performance with Burton was at the nightclub The Stone in March 1983, and the first recording to feature Burton was the Megaforce demo (1983).[17]

Metallica was ready to record their debut album, but when Metal Blade was unable to cover the cost, they began looking for other options. Concert promoter Jonathan “Jonny Z” Zazula, who had heard the demo No Life ’til Leather (1982), offered to broker a record deal between Metallica and New York City-based record labels. After those record labels showed no interest, Zazula borrowed enough money to cover the recording budget and signed Metallica to his own label, Megaforce Records.[18]Dave Mustaine went on to found rival band Megadeth after being fired from the band in 1983.

In May 1983, Metallica traveled to Rochester, New York to record its debut album, Metal Up Your Ass, which was produced by Paul Curcio.[19] The other members decided to eject Mustaine from the band because of his drug and alcohol abuse, and violent behavior just before the recording sessions on April 11, 1983.[20] Exodus guitarist Kirk Hammett replaced Mustaine the same afternoon.[18] Metallica’s first live performance with Hammett was on April 16, 1983, at a nightclub in Dover, New Jersey called The Showplace;[17] the support act was Anthrax’s original line-up, which included Dan Lilker and Neil Turbin.[21] This was the first time the two bands performed live together.[17]Kirk Hammett replaced Mustaine in 1983, and has been with the band ever since.

Mustaine, who went on to form Megadeth, has expressed his dislike for Hammett in interviews, saying Hammett “stole” his job.[22] Mustaine was “pissed off” because he believes Hammett became popular by playing guitar leads that Mustaine had actually written.[23] In a 1985 interview with Metal Forces, Mustaine said, “it’s real funny how Kirk Hammett ripped off every lead break I’d played on that No Life ’til Leather tape and got voted No. 1 guitarist in your magazine”.[24] On Megadeth’s debut album Killing Is My Business… and Business Is Good! (1985), Mustaine included the song “Mechanix”, which Metallica had previously reworked and retitled “The Four Horsemen” on Kill ‘Em All. Mustaine said he did this to “straighten Metallica up” because Metallica referred to Mustaine as a drunk and said he could not play guitar.[24]

Because of conflicts with its record label and the distributors’ refusal to release an album titled Metal Up Your Ass, the album was renamed Kill ‘Em All. It was released on Megaforce Records in the U.S. and on Music for Nations in Europe, and peaked at number 155 on the Billboard 200 in 1986.[25][1] Although the album was not initially a financial success, it earned Metallica a growing fan base in the underground metal scene.[26] To support the release, Metallica embarked on the Kill ‘Em All for One tour with Raven.[27] In February 1984, Metallica supported Venom on the Seven Dates of Hell tour, during which the bands performed in front of 7,000 people at the Aardschok Festival in Zwolle, Netherlands.[28]

1984–1986: Ride the LightningMaster of Puppets, and Burton’s death

Metallica recorded its second studio album, Ride the Lightning, at Sweet Silence Studios in Copenhagen, Denmark from February to March 1984. It was released in August 1984 and reached number 100 on the Billboard 200.[29] A French printing press mistakenly printed green covers for the album, which are now considered collectors’ items. Mustaine received writing credit for “Ride the Lightning” and “The Call of Ktulu”.[28]

Elektra Records A&R director Michael Alago, and co-founder of Q-Prime Management Cliff Burnstein, attended a Metallica concert in September 1984. They were impressed with the performance, signed Metallica to Elektra, and made the band a client of Q-Prime Management.[30] Metallica’s growing success was such that the band’s British label Music for Nations released “Creeping Death” as a limited edition single, which sold 40,000 copies as an import in the U.S. Two of the three songs on the record—cover versions of Diamond Head’s “Am I Evil?” and Blitzkrieg‘s “Blitzkrieg“—appeared on the 1988 Elektra reissue of Kill ‘Em All.[31] Metallica embarked on its first major European tour with Tank to an average crowd of 1,300. Returning to the U.S., it embarked upon a tour co-headlining with W.A.S.P. and supported by Armored Saint. Metallica played its largest show at the Monsters of Rock festival at Donington Park, England, on August 17, 1985, with Bon Jovi and Ratt, playing to 70,000 people. At a show in Oakland, California, at the Day on the Green festival, the band played to a crowd of 60,000.[30]

Metallica’s third studio album, Master of Puppets, was recorded at Sweet Silence Studios from September to December 1985 and released in March 1986. The album reached number 29 on the Billboard 200 and spent 72 weeks on the chart.[32] It was the band’s first album to be certified gold on November 4, 1986, and was certified six times platinum in 2003.[33] Steve Huey of AllMusic considered the album “the band’s greatest achievement”.[34] Following the release of the album, Metallica supported Ozzy Osbourne on a U.S. tour.[30] Hetfield broke his wrist while skateboarding; he continued with the tour, performing vocals, with guitar technician John Marshall playing rhythm guitar.[35]

On September 27, 1986, during the European leg of Metallica’s Damage, Inc. Tour, members drew cards to determine which bunks on the tour bus they would sleep in. Burton won and chose to sleep in Hammett’s bunk. At around sunrise near Dörarp, Sweden, the bus driver lost control and skidded, which caused the bus to overturn several times. Ulrich, Hammett, and Hetfield sustained no serious injuries; however, Burton was pinned under the bus and died. Hetfield said:

I saw the bus lying right on him. I saw his legs sticking out. I freaked. The bus driver, I recall, was trying to yank the blanket out from under him to use for other people. I just went, ‘Don’t fucking do that!’ I already wanted to kill the [bus driver]. I don’t know if he was drunk or if he hit some ice. All I knew was, he was driving and Cliff wasn’t alive anymore.[35]

1986–1994: Newsted joins, …And Justice for All, and Metallica

Burton’s death left Metallica’s future in doubt. The three remaining members decided Burton would want them to carry on, and with the Burton family’s blessings the band sought a replacement.[36] Roughly 40 people, including Hammett’s childhood friend, Les Claypool of PrimusTroy Gregory of Prong, and Jason Newsted, formerly of Flotsam and Jetsam, auditioned for the band. Newsted learned Metallica’s entire set list; after the audition Metallica invited him to Tommy’s Joynt in San Francisco. Hetfield, Ulrich, and Hammett decided on Newsted as Burton’s replacement; Newsted’s first live performance with Metallica was at the Country Club in Reseda, California. The members initiated Newsted by tricking him into eating a ball of wasabi.[36] The band finished its tour in February 1987.

After Newsted joined Metallica, the band left their El Cerrito practice space—a suburban house formerly rented by sound engineer Mark Whitaker dubbed “the Metalli-mansion”—and relocated to the adjacent cities of Berkeley and Albany before eventually settling in the Marin County city of San Rafael, north of San Francisco.[37][38] In March 1987, Hetfield again broke his wrist while skateboarding, forcing the band to cancel an appearance on Saturday Night Live. In August 1987, an all-covers extended play (EP) titled The $5.98 E.P. – Garage Days Re-Revisited was released. The EP was recorded in an effort to use the band’s newly constructed recording studio, test Newsted’s talents, and to relieve grief and stress following the death of Burton. A video titled Cliff ‘Em All commemorating Burton’s three years in Metallica was released in 1987; the video included bass solos, home videos, and pictures.[39]Metallica performing during its Damaged Justice Tour in 1988.

Metallica’s first studio album since Burton’s death, …And Justice for All, was recorded from January to May 1988 and released in September. The album was a commercial success, reaching number six on the Billboard 200, and was the band’s first album to enter the top 10.[29] The album was certified platinum nine weeks after its release.[40] There were complaints about the production; Steve Huey of AllMusic said Ulrich’s drums were clicking more than thudding, and the guitars “buzz thinly”.[41] To promote the album, Metallica embarked on a tour called Damaged Justice.[42]

In 1989, Metallica received its first Grammy Award nomination for …And Justice for All in the new Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance Vocal or Instrument category. Metallica was the favorite to win but the award was given to Jethro Tull for the album Crest of a Knave.[43] The award was controversial with fans and the press; Metallica was standing off-stage waiting to receive the award after performing the song “One“. Jethro Tull had been advised by its manager not to attend the ceremony because he was expecting Metallica to win.[43] The award was named in Entertainment Weekly‘s “Grammy’s 10 Biggest Upsets”.[44]

Following the release of …And Justice for All, Metallica released its debut music video for the song “One”, which the band performed in an abandoned warehouse. The footage was remixed with the film Johnny Got His Gun. Rather than organize an ongoing licensing deal, Metallica purchased the rights to the film. The remixed video was submitted to MTV with an alternative, performance-only version that was held back in case MTV banned the remixed version. MTV accepted the remixed version; the video was viewers’ first exposure to Metallica. In 1999, it was voted number 38 in MTV’s “Top 100 Videos of All Time” countdown;[45] it was featured in the network’s 25th Anniversary edition of ADD Video, which showcased the most popular videos on MTV in the last 25 years.[46]

In October 1990, Metallica entered One on One Recording’s studio in North Hollywood to record its next album. Bob Rock, who had worked with AerosmithThe CultBon Jovi, and Mötley Crüe, was hired as the producer. Metallica—also known as The Black Album—was remixed three times, cost US$1 million, and ended three marriages.[47] Although the release was delayed until 1991, Metallica debuted at number one in ten countries, selling 650,000 units in the U.S. during its first week.[48] The album brought Metallica mainstream attention; it has been certified 16 times platinum in the U.S., which makes it the 25th-best-selling album in the country.[49] The making of Metallica and the following tour was documented in A Year and a Half in the Life of Metallica. The tour in support of the album, called the Wherever We May Roam Tour, lasted 14 months and included dates in the U.S., Japan, and the UK.[47] In September 1991, 1.6 million rock music fans converged in Moscow to enjoy the first open-air rock concert to be held in the former Soviet Union, part of the Monsters of Rock series.[50] In April 1992, Metallica appeared at The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert and performed a three-song set.[51] Hetfield later performed “Stone Cold Crazy” with the remaining members of Queen and Tony Iommi.[51]

On August 8, 1992, during the co-headlining Guns N’ Roses/Metallica Stadium Tour, Hetfield suffered second and third degree burns to his arms, face, hands, and legs. There had been some confusion with the new pyrotechnics setup, which resulted in Hetfield walking into a 12-foot (3.7 m) flame during “Fade to Black”. Newsted said Hetfield’s skin was “bubbling like on The Toxic Avenger“.[52] Metallica returned to the stage 17 days later with guitar technician and Metal Church member John Marshall replacing Hetfield on guitar for the remainder of the tour, although Hetfield was able to sing. Later in 1993, Metallica went on the Nowhere Else to Roam Tour, playing five shows in Mexico CityLive Shit: Binge & Purge, the band’s first box set, was released in November 1993. The collection contained three live CDs, three home videos, and a book filled with riders and letters.[52]

1994–2001: LoadReload, Napster controversy, and Newsted’s departure

After almost three years of touring to promote Metallica, including a headlining performance at Woodstock ’94, Metallica returned to the studio to write and record its sixth studio album. The band went on a brief hiatus in the summer of 1995 and played a short tour, Escape from the Studio ’95, comprising three outdoor shows, including a headline show at Donington Park supported by SlayerSkid RowSlash’s SnakepitTherapy?, and Corrosion of Conformity. The band spent about a year writing and recording new songs, resulting in the release of Load in 1996. Load debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and ARIA Charts; it was the band’s second number-one album.[29] The cover art, Blood and Semen III, was created by Andres Serrano, who pressed a mixture of his own semen and blood between sheets of plexiglass.[53] The release marked another change in the band’s musical direction and a new image; the bandmembers’ hair was cut. Metallica headlined the alternative rock festival Lollapalooza festival in mid-1996.[54][55]

During early production of the album, the band had recorded enough material to fill a double album. It was decided that half of the songs were to be released; the band would continue to work on the remaining songs and release them the following year. This resulted in follow-up album titled Reload. The cover art was again created by Serrano, this time using a mixture of blood and urine.[53] Reload debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and reached number two on the Top Canadian Album chart.[29] Hetfield said in the 2004 documentary film Metallica: Some Kind of Monster that the band initially thought some of the songs on these albums were of average quality; these were “polished and reworked” until judged releasable.[56] To promote Reload, Metallica performed “Fuel” and “The Memory Remains” with Marianne Faithfull on NBC‘s Saturday Night Live in December 1997.[57]

In 1998, Metallica compiled a double album of cover songs, Garage Inc. The first disc contained newly recorded covers of songs by Diamond HeadKilling Joke, the MisfitsThin LizzyMercyful FateBlack Sabbath, and others. The second disc featured the original version of The $5.98 E.P. – Garage Days Re-Revisited, which had become a scarce collectors’ item. The album entered the Billboard 200 at number two.[57][58]

On April 21 and 22, 1999, Metallica recorded two performances with the San Francisco Symphony conducted by Michael Kamen, who had previously worked with producer Rock on “Nothing Else Matters“. Kamen approached Metallica in 1991 with the idea of pairing the band’s music with a symphony orchestra. Kamen and his staff of over 100 composed additional orchestral material for Metallica songs. Metallica wrote two new Kamen-scored songs for the event, “No Leaf Clover” and “-Human”. The audio recording and concert footage were released in 1999 as the album and concert film S&M. It entered the Billboard 200 at number two and the Australian ARIA charts and Top Internet Albums chart at number one.[29]

In 2000, Metallica discovered that a demo of its song “I Disappear“, which was supposed to be released in combination with the Mission: Impossible II soundtrack, was receiving radio airplay. Tracing the source of the leak, the band found the file on the Napster peer-to-peer file-sharing network, and also found that the band’s entire catalogue was freely available.[59] Legal action was initiated against Napster; Metallica filed a lawsuit at the U.S. District CourtCentral District of California, alleging that Napster violated three areas of the law: copyright infringement, unlawful use of digital audio interface device, and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).[60]Lars Ulrich led the case against Napster for Metallica.

Ulrich provided a statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding copyright infringement on July 11, 2000.[59] Federal Judge Marilyn Hall Patel ordered the site to place a filter on the program within 72 hours or be shut down.[61] A settlement between Metallica and Napster was reached when German media conglomerate Bertelsmann BMG showed interest in purchasing the rights to Napster for $94 million. Under the terms of settlement, Napster agreed to block users who shared music by artists who do not want their music shared.[62] On June 3, 2002, Napster filed for Chapter 11 protection under U.S. bankruptcy laws. On September 3, 2002, an American bankruptcy judge blocked the sale of Napster to Bertelsmann and forced Napster to liquidate its assets according to Chapter 7 of the U.S. bankruptcy laws.[63]

At the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards, Ulrich appeared with host Marlon Wayans in a skit that criticized the idea of using Napster to share music. Wayans played a college student listening to Metallica’s “I Disappear”. Ulrich walked in and asked for an explanation. Ulrich responded to Wayans’ excuse that using Napster was just “sharing” by saying that Wayans’ idea of sharing was “borrowing things that were not yours without asking”. He called in the Metallica road crew, who proceeded to confiscate all of Wayans’ belongings, leaving him almost naked in an empty room. Napster creator Shawn Fanning responded later in the ceremony by presenting an award wearing a Metallica shirt, saying, “I borrowed this shirt from a friend. Maybe, if I like it, I’ll buy one of my own.” Ulrich was later booed on stage at the award show when he introduced the final musical act, Blink-182.[64][65]Longtime producer Bob Rock recorded bass for St. Anger following Newsted’s departure in 2001.

Newsted left Metallica on January 17, 2001, as plans were being made to enter the recording studio. He said he left the band for “private and personal reasons, and the physical damage I have done to myself over the years while playing the music that I love”.[66] During a Playboy interview with Metallica, Newsted said he wanted to release an album with his side projectEchobrain. Hetfield was opposed to the idea and said, “When someone does a side project, it takes away from the strength of Metallica”, and that a side project is “like cheating on your wife in a way”.[54] Newsted said Hetfield had recorded vocals for a song used in the film South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, and appeared on two Corrosion of Conformity albums. Hetfield replied, “My name isn’t on those records. And I’m not out trying to sell them”, and raised questions such as, “Where would it end? Does he start touring with it? Does he sell shirts? Is it his band?”[54]

2001–2006: Some Kind of MonsterSt. Anger, and Trujillo joins

In April 2001, filmmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky began following Metallica to document the recording process of the band’s next studio album. Over two years they recorded more than 1,000 hours of footage. On July 19, 2001, before preparations to enter the recording studio, Hetfield entered rehab to treat his “alcoholism and other addictions”. All recording plans were put on hold and the band’s future was in doubt.[67] Hetfield left rehab on December 4, 2001,[67] and the band returned to the recording studio on April 12, 2002. Hetfield was required to limit his work to four hours a day between noon and 4 pm, and to spend the rest of his time with his family.[56] The footage recorded by Berlinger and Sinofsky was compiled into the documentary Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2004. In the documentary, Newsted said his former bandmates’ decision to hire a therapist to help solve their problems which he felt they could have solved on their own was “really fucking lame and weak”.[56]

In June 2003, Metallica’s eighth studio album, St. Anger, debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, and drew mixed reactions from critics. Ulrich’s “steely” sounding snare drum and the absence of guitar solos received particular criticism.[68] Kevin Forest Moreau of said, “the guitars stumble in a monotone of mid-level, processed rattle; the drums don’t propel as much as struggle to disguise an all-too-turgid pace; and the rage is both unfocused and leavened with too much narcissistic navel-gazing”.[69] Brent DiCrescenzo of Pitchfork described it as “an utter mess”.[70] However, Blender magazine called it the “grimiest and grimmest of the band’s Bob Rock productions”, and New York Magazine called it “utterly raw and rocking”.[71] The title track, “St. Anger“, won the Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance in 2004; it was used as the official theme song for WWE‘s SummerSlam 2003.[72]Robert Trujillo joined Metallica in 2003 after the recording of St. Anger.

For the duration of St. Anger‘s recording period, producer Bob Rock played bass on the album and in several live shows at which Metallica performed during that time.[56] Once the record was completed, the band started to hold auditions for Newsted’s permanent replacement. Bassists Pepper KeenanJeordie WhiteScott ReederEric AveryDanny Lohner, and Chris Wyse—among others—auditioned for the role. After three months of auditions, Robert Trujillo, formerly of Suicidal Tendencies and Ozzy Osbourne’s band, was chosen as the new bassist.[56] Newsted, who had joined Canadian thrash metal band Voivod by that time, was Trujillo’s replacement in Osbourne’s band during the 2003 Ozzfest tour, which included Voivod.[73]

Before the band’s set at the 2004 Download Festival, Ulrich was rushed to the hospital after having an anxiety seizure and was unable to perform.[74] Hetfield searched for last-minute volunteers to replace Ulrich. Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo and Slipknot drummer Joey Jordison volunteered. Lombardo performed “Battery” and “The Four Horsemen”, Ulrich’s drum technician Flemming Larsen performed “Fade to Black”, and Jordison performed the remainder of the set.[75] Having toured for two years in support of St. Anger on the Summer Sanitarium Tour 2003 and the Madly in Anger with the World Tour, with multi-platinum rock band Godsmack in support, Metallica took a break from performing and spent most of 2005 with friends and family. The band opened for The Rolling Stones at SBC Park in San Francisco on November 13 and 15, 2005.[76]

2006–2013: Death Magnetic and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction

In February 2006, Metallica announced on its official website that after 15 years, long-time producer Bob Rock would not be producing the band’s next studio album. Instead, the band chose to work with producer Rick Rubin.[77] Around the same time, a petition signed by 1,500 fans was posted online in an attempt to encourage the band to prohibit Rock from producing Metallica albums, saying he had too much influence on the band’s sound and musical direction. Rock said the petition hurt his children’s feelings; he said, “sometimes, even with a great coach, a team keeps losing. You have to get new blood in there.”[78] In December 2006, Metallica released a DVD titled The Videos 1989–2004, which sold 28,000 copies in its first week and entered the Billboard Top Videos chart at number three.[79] Metallica recorded a guitar-based interpretation of Ennio Morricone‘s “The Ecstasy of Gold” for a tribute album titled We All Love Ennio Morricone, which was released in February 2007. The track received a Grammy nomination at the 50th Grammy Awards for the category “Best Rock Instrumental Performance“.[80] A recording of “The Ecstasy of Gold” has been played to introduce Metallica’s performances since the 1980s.[81]Metallica performing in London in 2008

Metallica scheduled the release of the album Death Magnetic as September 12, 2008, and the band filmed a music video for the album’s first single, “The Day That Never Comes“. On September 2, 2008, a record store in France began selling copies of Death Magnetic nearly two weeks before its scheduled worldwide release date,[82] which resulted in the album being made available on peer-to-peer clients. This prompted the band’s UK distributor Vertigo Records to officially release the album on September 10, 2008. Rumors of Metallica or Warner Bros. taking legal action against the French retailer were unconfirmed, though drummer Lars Ulrich responded to the leak by saying, “…We’re ten days from release. I mean, from here, we’re golden. If this thing leaks all over the world today or tomorrow, happy days. Happy days. Trust me”,[83] and, “By 2008 standards, that’s a victory. If you’d told me six months ago that our record wouldn’t leak until 10 days out, I would have signed up for that.”[84]

Death Magnetic debuted at number one in the U.S. selling 490,000 units; Metallica became the first band to have five consecutive studio albums debut at number one in the history of the Billboard 200.[85] A week after its release, Death Magnetic remained at number one on the Billboard 200 and the European album chart; it also became the fastest selling album of 2008 in Australia.[86] Death Magnetic remained at number one on the Billboard 200 album chart for three consecutive weeks. Metallica was one of two artists whose album—the other being Jack Johnson‘s album Sleep Through the Static—remained on the Billboard 200 for three consecutive weeks at number one in 2008. Death Magnetic also remained at number one on Billboard’s Hard Rock, Modern Rock/Alternative and Rock album charts for five consecutive weeks. The album reached number one in 32 countries outside the U.S., including the UK, Canada, and Australia.[87][88] In November 2008, Metallica’s record deal with Warner Bros. ended and the band considered releasing its next album through the internet.[89][90]

On January 14, 2009, it was announced that Metallica would be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 4, 2009,[91] and that former bassist Jason Newsted—who left the band in 2001—would perform with the band at the ceremony.[92] Initially, it was announced that the matter had been discussed and that bassist Trujillo had agreed not to play because he “wanted to see the Black Album band”.[93] However, during the band’s set of “Master of Puppets” and “Enter Sandman”, both Trujillo and Newsted were on stage.[94] Ray Burton, father of the late Cliff Burton, accepted the honor on his behalf. Although he was not to be inducted with them, Metallica invited Dave Mustaine to take part in the induction ceremony. Mustaine declined because of his touring commitments in Europe.[95]Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield performing at 2009 Sonisphere Festival in Pori, FinlandMetallica performing in London in 2009

Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, and Anthrax performed on the same bill for the first time on June 16, 2010, at Warsaw Babice AirportWarsaw, as a part of the Sonisphere Festival series. The show in Sofia, Bulgaria, on June 22, 2010, was broadcast via satellite to cinemas.[96] The bands also played concerts in Bucharest on June 26, 2010, and Istanbul on June 27, 2010. On June 28, 2010, Death Magnetic was certified double platinum by the RIAA.[97] Metallica’s World Magnetic Tour ended in Melbourne on November 21, 2010. The band had been touring for over two years in support of Death Magnetic. To accompany the final tour dates in Australia and New Zealand, a live, limited edition EP of past performances in Australia called Six Feet Down Under was released.[98] The EP was followed by Six Feet Down Under (Part II), which was released on November 12, 2010.[99] Part 2 contains a further eight songs recorded during the first two Oceanic Legs of the World Magnetic Tour. On November 26, 2010, Metallica released a live EP titled Live at Grimey’s, which was recorded in June 2008 at Grimey’s Record Store, just before the band’s appearance at Bonnaroo Music Festival that year.[100][101]

In a June 2009 interview with Italy’s Rock TV, Ulrich said Metallica was planning to continue touring until August 2010, and that there were no plans for a tenth album. He said he was sure the band would collaborate with producer Rick Rubin again.[102] According to, the band was considering recording its next album in the second half of 2011.[103] In November 2010, during an interview with The Pulse of Radio, Ulrich said Metallica would return to writing in 2011. Ulrich said, “There’s a bunch of balls in the air for 2011, but I think the main one is we really want to get back to writing again. We haven’t really written since, what, ’06, ’07, and we want to get back to kind of just being creative again. Right now we are going to just chill out and then probably start up again in, I’d say, March or April, and start probably putting the creative cap back on and start writing some songs.”[104]Metallica performing in Sacramento in 2009

On November 9, 2010, Metallica announced it would be headlining the Rock in Rio festival in Rio de Janeiro on September 25, 2011.[105][106] On December 13, 2010, the band announced it would again play as part of the “big four” during the Sonisphere Festival at Knebworth House, Hertfordshire, on July 8, 2011. It was the first time all of the “big four” members played on the same stage in the UK.[107] On December 17, 2010, Another “big four” Sonisphere performance that would take place in France on July 9 was announced.[108] On January 25, 2011, another “big four” performance on April 23, 2011, at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California, was announced. It was the first time all of the “big four” members played on the same stage in the U.S.[109] On February 17, 2011, a show in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, on July 2, 2011, was announced.[110] On February 22, a “big four” show in Milan on July 6, 2011, was announced.[111] On March 2, 2011, another “big four” concert, which took place in Gothenburg on July 3, 2011, was announced.[112] The final “big four” concert was in New York City, at Yankee Stadium, on September 14, 2011.[113]

In an interview at the April 2011 Big Four concert, Robert Trujillo said Metallica will work with Rick Rubin again as producer for the new album and were “really excited to write some new music. There’s no shortage of riffage in Metallica world right now.” He added, “The first album with Rick was also the first album for me, so in a lot of ways, you’re kind of testing the water. Now that we’re comfortable with Rick and his incredible engineer, Greg Fidelman, who worked with Slayer, actually, on this last record—it’s my hero—it’s a great team. And it’s only gonna better; I really believe that. So I’m super-excited.”[114] In June 2011, Rubin said Metallica had begun writing its new album.[115]

On June 15, 2011, Metallica announced that recording sessions with singer-songwriter Lou Reed had concluded. The album, which was titled Lulu, was recorded over several months and comprised ten songs[116] based on Frank Wedekind‘s “Lulu” plays Earth Spirit and Pandora’s Box.[117] The album was released on October 31, 2011. The recording of the album was problematic at times; Lars Ulrich later said Lou Reed challenged him to a “street fight”.[118] On October 16, 2011, Robert Trujillo confirmed that the band was back in the studio and writing new material. He said, “The writing process for the new Metallica album has begun. We’ve been in the studio with Rick Rubin, working on a couple of things, and we’re going to be recording during the most of next year.”[119]Metallica performing in Bangalore in 2011

Metallica was due to make its first appearance in India at the “India Rocks” concert, supporting the 2011 Indian Grand Prix.[120] However, the concert was canceled when the venue was proven to be unsafe.[121] Fans raided the stage during the event and the organizers were later arrested for fraud.[122] Metallica made its Indian debut in Bangalore on October 30, 2011.[123][124] On November 10, it was announced that Metallica would headline the main stage on Saturday June 9, 2012, at the Download Festival at Donington Park and that the band would play The Black Album in its entirety.[125] Metallica celebrated its 30th anniversary by playing four shows at the Fillmore in San Francisco in December 2011. The shows were exclusive to Met Club members and tickets were charged at $6 each or $19.81 for all four nights. The shows consisted of songs from the band’s career and featured guest appearances by artists who had either helped or had influenced Metallica. These shows were notable because Lloyd Grant, Dave Mustaine, Jason Newsted, Glenn Danzig, Ozzy Osbourne, Jerry CantrellApocalyptica, members of Diamond Head, and King Diamond joined Metallica on stage for all appropriate songs.[126][127] In December 2011, Metallica began releasing songs that were written for Death Magnetic but were not included on the album online.[128] On December 13, 2011, the band released Beyond Magnetic, a digital EP release exclusively on iTunes.[129] It was released on CD in January 2012.[130]

On February 7, 2012, Metallica announced that it would start a new music festival called Orion Music + More, which took place on June 23 and 24, 2012, in Atlantic City. Metallica also confirmed that it would headline the festival on both days and would perform two of its most critically acclaimed albums in their entirety: The Black Album on one night, and Ride the Lightning on the other.[131] In a July 2012 interview with Canadian radio station 99.3 The Fox, Ulrich said Metallica would not release its new album until at least early 2014.[132] In November 2012, Metallica left Warner Bros. Records and launched an independent record label, Blackened Recordings, which will produce the band’s future releases.[133][134] The band has acquired the rights to all of its studio albums, which will be reissued through the new label. Blackened releases will be licensed through Warner subsidiary Rhino Entertainment in North America and internationally through Universal Music.[135][136] On September 20, 2012, Metallica announced via its official website that a new DVD containing footage of shows it performed in Quebec in 2009 would be released that December; fans would get the chance to vote for two setlists that would appear on the DVD.[137] The film, titled Quebec Magnetic, was released in the U.S. on December 10, 2012.[138]

2013–2019: Metallica: Through the Never and Hardwired… to Self-Destruct

In an interview with Classic Rock on January 8, 2013, Ulrich said regarding the band’s upcoming album, “What we’re doing now certainly sounds like a continuation [of Death Magnetic]”. He also said, “I love Rick [Rubin]. We all love Rick. We’re in touch with Rick constantly. We’ll see where it goes. It would stun me if the record came out in 2013.”[139] Also in 2013, the band starred in a 3D concert film titled Metallica: Through the Never, which was directed by Antal Nimród and was released in IMAX theaters on September 27.[140] In an interview dated July 22, 2013, Ulrich told Ultimate Guitar, “2014 will be all about making a new Metallica record”; he said the album will most likely be released during 2015.[141] Kirk Hammett and Robert Trujillo later confirmed the band’s intention to enter the studio.[142] At the second Orion Music + More festival held in Detroit, the band played under the name “Dehaan”—a reference to actor Dane DeHaan, who starred in Metallica: Through the Never.[143] The band performed its debut album Kill ‘Em All in its entirety, celebrating the 30th anniversary of its release.[144] On December 8, 2013, the band played a show called “Freeze ‘Em All” in Antarctica, becoming the first band to play on all seven continents.[145] The performance was filmed and released as a live album the same month.[146]

At the 56th Annual Grammy Awards in January 2014, Metallica performed “One” with Chinese pianist Lang Lang.[147] In March 2014, Metallica began a tour called “Metallica By Request”, in which fans request songs for the band to perform.[148] A new song, titled “Lords of Summer” was written for the concerts and released as a “first take” demo in June 2014.[149] In June 2014, the band headlined the Glastonbury Festival in an attempt to attract new fans. Ulrich said, “We have one shot, you never know if you’ll be invited back”.[150] In November 2014, Metallica performed at the closing ceremony of BlizzCon 2014.[151] In January 2015, Metallica announced a “Metallica Night” with the San Jose Sharks, which featured a Q&A session with the band and a charity auction benefiting the San Francisco Bay Chapter of the Sierra Club, but no performances.[152] They were announced to headline Lollapalooza in March 2015, returning to perform there for the first time in 20 years.[153] On May 2, 2015, Metallica performed their third annual Metallica Day at AT&T Park.[154] Metallica were also announced to play at X Games for the first time at X Games Austin 2015 in Austin, Texas.[155] On June 14, 2015, Hetfield and Hammett performed The Star-Spangled Banner live via electric guitars prior to game 5 of the NBA Finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California.[156][157][158] In late October, the band unveiled a new website with an introduction from Ulrich containing footage from the studio of the band working on new material.[159] On November 2, Metallica were announced to play “The Night Before” Super Bowl 50 at AT&T Park.[160] Metallica announced they would be opening the U.S. Bank Stadium on August 20, 2016, with Avenged Sevenfold and Volbeat as support.Metallica performing in London in 2017

In April 2016, during the week leading up to Record Store Day, for which the band was its ambassador for 2016, Ulrich told Billboard that the band’s expanded role within the music industry had played a part in the amount of time that it had taken to write and record the album. “The way we do things now is very different than the way we did things back in the days of Kill ‘Em All and Ride the Lightning. Nowadays we like to do so many different things.” Ulrich was also optimistic that production of the album had almost reached its completion. “Unless something radical happens it would be difficult for me to believe that it won’t come out in 2016”.[161] On August 18, 2016, the band announced via their website that their tenth studio album, Hardwired… to Self-Destruct, would be released worldwide on November 18, 2016, via their independent label, Blackened Recordings. They also unveiled the track listing, album artwork, and released a music video for the album’s first single, “Hardwired”.[162] The album was released as scheduled[163] and debuted at number one on the Billboard 200.[164]

Metallica announced they would be touring the US in summer of 2017 for the WorldWired Tour. The stadium tour also includes Avenged Sevenfold, Volbeat and Gojira as supporting acts.[165] On August 7, 2017, Metallica was invited by the San Francisco Giants again for the fifth annual “Metallica Night” with Hammett and Hetfield performing the national anthem.[166] In January 2018, the band announced that they would be reissuing The $5.98 E.P. – Garage Days Re-Revisited on April 13 for Record Store Day,[167] and the sixth annual “Metallica Night” was also announced a few weeks later, this time in April, with all proceeds going to the All Within My Hands Foundation, which the band created in late 2017.[168] In February 2018, the band announced a second set of North American tour dates, most of which for cities that they had not visited in up to thirty years.[169]

2019–present: Upcoming eleventh studio album

In an interview with Australian magazine The Music‘s official podcast in March 2019, Trujillo said that Metallica had begun jamming on new material for its next studio album. “I’m excited about the next record because I believe it will also be a culmination of the two [previous] records and another journey. There’s no shortage of original ideas, that’s the beauty of being in this band.” He estimated that the album would be released “a lot sooner than the previous two did… this time around I think we’ll be able to jump on it a lot quicker and jump in the studio and start working. We’ve all vowed to get this one going sooner than later.”[170] In an interview with Australian magazine Mixdown the following month, Hammett said that the band had tentative plans to enter the studio after the conclusion of its WorldWired Tour. He stated, “We’re in our third year since Hardwired. Maybe we can get a bit more focus and go into the studio a bit sooner.” After not contributing any writing to Hardwired… to Self-Destruct, Hammett said regarding his ideas for the new album, “I have a ton of material. I’ve over-compensated, so I’m ready to go anytime.”[171]

In March 2019, Metallica announced that its WorldWired Tour would continue into Australia and New Zealand in October with Slipknot in support.[172][173] Later that month, the band announced that it would perform at the grand opening of San Francisco’s new Chase Center with the San Francisco Symphony in September to celebrate the twenty-year anniversary of S&M.[174] The commemorative shows, titled S&M2, were screened in over 3,000 theaters worldwide on October 9;[175][176] the event featured arrangements from the original S&M concerts as well as new arrangements for songs recorded since then[175][176] and a cover of the Alexander Mosolov piece Iron Foundry,[177] and were conducted by Edwin Outwater and San Francisco Symphony music director Michael Tilson Thomas.[178] S&M2 went on to earn $5.5 million at the box office, making it the biggest global rock event cinema release of all time; a second screening was later announced for October 30 as a result.[179][180][181] In August 2020, the band announced that they would release the S&M2 performances as an album, DVD and box set.[182][183]

In July 2019, Metallica announced a set of South American tour dates for April 2020 with Greta Van Fleet in support.[184][185] In September, ahead of that year’s Global Citizen Festival, it was announced that Metallica would perform at the following year’s festival in September 2020 alongside artists such as Billie EilishMiley Cyrus and Coldplay, in what would be the final event of Global Poverty Project‘s year-long Global Goal Live: The Possible Dream campaign.[186] The following day, on September 27, Metallica announced that Hetfield had re-entered a rehabilitation program and that its Australia/New Zealand tour would be postponed.[187][188][189] In a statement by Ulrich, Hammett and Trujillo, the band spoke of the devastation of the news, saying that Hetfield “[had] been struggling with addiction on and off for many years” and that all tickets would be fully refunded.[187][188][189] Ulrich later added that Hetfield was “in the process of healing himself”, and that the band hoped to return to Australia and New Zealand in 2020.[190] The band’s other commitments, including a benefit concert in March 2020, were still expected to continue as planned;[187] a further five US festival appearances were announced in October.[191] These shows were later postponed or cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and to support Hetfield’s recovery.[192][193] In March 2020, the band began a series on YouTube and Facebook called #MetallicaMondays, where they streamed full archived shows every Monday to relieve boredom while staying home and social distancing amid the pandemic.[194][195] In May 2020, while in quarantine, Metallica performed a virtual acoustic version of “Blackened”,[196] titled “Blackened 2020”, which was later made available for download.[197]

In an interview with Marc Benioff in April 2020, Ulrich stated that Metallica could work on its next studio album while in quarantine.[198] Trujillo told The Vinyl Guide in June that the band was “excited about cultivating new ideas” for its new album. “We communicate every week, which is really great, so we have our connection intact […] what we’ve started doing is basically just really concentrating on our home studios and being creative from our homes and navigating through ideas and building on new ideas. And that’s where we’re at right now”. He also said that the band was working towards eventually entering a studio to record the album.[199]

On August 10, 2020, Metallica played a show at Gundlach-Bundschu Winery in Sonoma, California, which was only attended by a few crewmembers, and it was recorded and played for drive-in movies across the United States and Canada on August 29.[200]

In May 2021, the band announced that they would do one more #MetallicaMondays on May 24 to benefit their All Within My Hands Foundation.[201] The concert dates to September 6, 2018, in Lincoln, Nebraska.[201]


No Life ’til LeatherDemo1982
Kill ‘Em AllFull-length1983
Jump in the FireSingle1984
Ride the LightningFull-length1984
Creeping DeathSingle1984
Master of PuppetsFull-length1986
Master of PuppetsSingle1986 
The $5.98 EP – Garage Days Re-RevisitedEP1987
Cliff ‘Em All!Video1987
Harvester of SorrowSingle1988
…and Justice for AllFull-length1988
Eye of the BeholderSingle1988 
2 of OneVideo1989
The Good, the Bad and the Live: The 6 1/2 Year Anniversary 12″ CollectionCompilation1990 
Enter SandmanSingle1991
The UnforgivenSingle1991
Nothing Else MattersSingle1992
Live at Wembley StadiumSingle1992
For Those About to Rock – Monsters in MoscowSplit video1992 
Wherever I May RoamSingle1992
A Year and a Half in the Life of Metallica Part 1 & 2Video1992 
Sad but TrueSingle1993
Live Shit: Binge & PurgeLive album1993
One (live)Single1994
Until It SleepsVideo1996 
Until It SleepsSingle1996
Hero of the DaySingle1996
Mama SaidSingle1996
King NothingSingle1997
The Memory RemainsSingle1997
Live in London – Antipodean Tour EditionSingle1998 
The Unforgiven IISingle1998 
Turn the PageSingle1998
Garage Inc.Full-length1998
Cunning StuntsVideo1998
Whiskey in the JarSingle1999
Die Die My DarlingSingle1999
Nothing Else MattersSingle1999
S&MLive album1999
No Leaf CloverSingle2000
I DisappearSingle2000
Classic Albums: MetallicaVideo2001
St. AngerFull-length2003
St. AngerSingle2003
The Unnamed FeelingSingle2004
Some Kind of MonsterSingle2004
Vinyl Box SetBoxed set2004 
Heavy Metal BoxSplit video2005 
The Videos 1989-2004Video2006
Live EarthLive album2007
The Day That Never ComesSingle2008
My ApocalypseSingle2008
The Judas KissSingle2008
Death MagneticFull-length2008
All Nightmare LongSingle2008
Broken, Beat & ScarredSingle2009 
The Metallica CollectionBoxed set2009 
Français pour une nuit – Live aux Arènes de Nîmes 2009Video2009
Orgullo, pasión y gloria – Tres noches en la ciudad de MéxicoVideo2009
Frantic / ParanoidSplit2010 
Six Feet Down UnderLive album2010
The Big 4: Live from Sofia, BulgariaSplit video2010
Six Feet Down Under Part IILive album2010 
Live at Grimey’sLive album2010
The ViewSingle2011
Beyond MagneticEP2011
The First 30 YearsSingle2012 
Quebec MagneticVideo2012 
Through the Never (Music from the Motion Picture)Live album2013
One (Awards Show Rehearsal Version)Single2014 
Lords of Summer (First Pass Version)Single2014
Live Metallica: San Juan, Puerto Rico | October 26, 2016Live album2016 
Fifth Member Exclusive Deluxe Box Set SamplerCompilation2016
Liberté, égalité, fraternité, Metallica!Live album2016
Live Metallica: Minneapolis, MNLive album2016
Live Metallica: Webster Hall in New York, NYLive album2016 
Moth into FlameSingle2016
Atlas, Rise!Single2016
Live Metallica: House of Vans in London, United KingdomLive album2016 
Hardwired… to Self-DestructFull-length2016
Live Metallica: Seoul, South Korea – January 11, 2017Live album2017 
Live Metallica: Shanghai, China – January 15, 2017Live album2017 
Live at the Festival Hall, Osaka, Japan – November 18th, 1986Live album2017 
Dyers Eve (Remastered)Single2018 
The Wait (Remastered)Single2018 
Eye of the Beholder (Live at Hammersmith Odeon, London, England / October 10th, 1988)Single2018 
The Shortest Straw (December 1987 / Writing in Progress)Single2018 
One (Live at Long Beach Arena, Long Beach, CA / December 7th, 1988)Single2018 
Helping Hands… Live & Acoustic at The MasonicLive album2019
May 3, 2019 Madrid, Spain. ValdebebasLive album2019 
Live in Argentina (1993 – 2017)Live album2020 
Blackened 2020Single2020
All Within My Hands (Live) / Nothing Else Matters (Live)Single2020 
Moth into Flame (Live)Single2020 
For Whom the Bell Tolls (live)Single2020 
S&M 2Live album2020
Live at Donington ’87Live album2020 
MotherloadLive album2020 
Disappear (Leaked and Live)Demo2021
Lars Ulrich
Drums (1981-present)
James Hetfield
Vocals (lead), Guitars (rhythm) (1981-present)
See also: ex-Leather Charm, ex-Obsession, ex-Phantom Lord, ex-Spastik Children
Kirk Hammett
Guitars (lead), Vocals (backing) (1983-present)
See also: ex-Exodus, ex-Spastik Children
Robert Trujillo
Bass, Vocals (backing) (2003-present)
See also: Infectious Grooves, Mass Mental, ex-Jerry Cantrell, ex-Ozzy Osbourne, ex-Suicidal Tendencies, ex-Black Label Society (live), ex-Fydolla Ho

Past Members:

Cliff BurtonBass (1982-1986)
(R.I.P. 1986) See also: ex-Trauma, ex-Agents of Misfortune, ex-EZ-Street, ex-Spastik Children, ex-The Chickenfuckers
Ron McGovneyBass (1982)
See also: ex-Phantasm, ex-Leather Charm, ex-Obsession, ex-Phantom Lord
Dave MustaineGuitars (lead) (1982-1983)
See also: Megadeth, ex-MD.45, ex-DeuxMonkey, ex-Red Lamb, ex-Fallen Angels, ex-Panic
Jason NewstedBass (1987-2001)
See also: ex-IR8, ex-Newsted, ex-Sexoturica, ex-WhoCares, Jason Newsted and the Chophouse Band, Would & Steal, ex-Flotsam and Jetsam, ex-Ozzy Osbourne, ex-Voivod, ex-Dogz, ex-Dredlox, ex-Echobrain, ex-Gangster, ex-Papa Wheelie, ex-Paradox, ex-Quarteto de Pinga, ex-Rock Star Supernova, ex-Spastik Children
Side A
1.Hit the Lights04:17  Show lyrics
2.The Four Horsemen07:13  Show lyrics
3.Motorbreath03:08  Show lyrics
4.Jump in the Fire04:42  Show lyrics
5.(Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth04:15  Instrumental
6.Whiplash04:10  Show lyrics
Side B
7.Phantom Lord05:02  Show lyrics
8.No Remorse06:26  Show lyrics
9.Seek & Destroy06:55  Show lyrics
10.Metal Militia05:10  Show lyrics

One thought on “Metallica: Kill’Em All-80’s-1983.

  1. Metallica: Kill ‘Em All
    MetalManiaCometh, August 26th, 2020
    For the past few days I was mulling over what I should cover next and the very obvious answer I had was picking Metallica’s highly influential debut, “Kill ‘Em All”. For an album that has had so much coverage and multiple different takes from multiple different people; it puts me off a little to come up with something that will stand on its own against the back drop of voices but I hope to try my best. Coming slap dab in the middle of summer 1983, Metallica came out of the gates running with an album that many would call one of the greatest metal albums of all time, some expressing that it is the greatest. Now I do think it’s one of the greatest and it’s influence is widespread but I’m not one to think it is the best, let alone the best thrash metal debut, but I do believe it is a tremendous album and an album that helped pave the way for the genre as a whole.

    To begin, if there is a way to describe what “Kill ‘Em All” is, it is in all of its 80s glory a “raw, furious thrasher”. Fueled by NWOBHM and classic metal / rock with a dash of punk aggression, all the contents are mixed together in a caldron of sonic proportions only to great the dish named, thrash metal. Ok yeah I know that there is some contention and debate on “who REALLY put out the first thrash metal album” but what really matters is that this album, along with Slayer’s debut a few months later, was what put thrash on the map. The album is unpolished, distorted, and raw but still retains a charm to it. Matter of fact, as I re-listen to it in full today here in 2020, I notice how well it still sounds and how much it holds up. The guitars are nice and loud, the drums back a punch but not overbearing, the bass is loud enough to be heard but at places I do wish it was higher in the mix, and Hetfields shrieky, angsty vocals is in central focus here, but just like the drums in the production it isn’t over shadowing the instrumentation. So yeah, besides the bass being a tad bit low in places, the overall production is pretty great for a debut and packs a bunch of sound.

    For the better part of “Kill ‘Em All”, Metallica’s focus is on NWOBHM influenced riffs but sped up ten times faster. “Hit The Lights” is the perfect representation for my statement, as it has a clear Iron Maiden influence with its galloping rhythm but with the tempo dial turned up a notch. If slowed down a little, I could see “Hit The Lights” ending up on one of Iron Maiden’s early albums honestly. The majority of the album is like a literal speed rollercoaster; speeding down the tracks more than they slowly go up them. Besides “Hit The Lights”; “Whiplash”, “Motorbreath”, “Phantom Lord”, “Metal Militia” all offer that same energy as the riffs and solos spill out in a quick pace but there is some variety here that isn’t all just quick riffing as Metallica does offer some mid-paced performances. “Jump In The Fire”, “No Remorse”, and “Seek & Destroy” all fit that mid-paced bill with influences ranging from Motörhead to Diamond Head sprouting from the seems; giving us the listeners some breathing room. Hell if you were to really slow down “Seek & Destroy”, I could see that as something Black Sabbath could have written. Metallica also adds little moments between songs where a melodic break or a melodic solo happens which I feel adds more to the song than being a straight forward speed thrasher.

    A nice outlier from “Kill ‘Em All” is the late Cliff Burton’s bass solo in “(Anesthesia)- Pulling Teeth”. It is very experimental and totally different from everything else on the album that I couldn’t not stop and talk about it individually. I really love that buildup towards the 2 minute mark, then the rest of the instruments kicking in but not overtaking the bass. It’s a stand out in Cliff’s short career and definitely a standout here. Back to the album as a whole, I will say that it isn’t the most technical or complex in nature. The riffing follows a basic path and pattern, not verging much off from the well placed solos and the occasional melodic break or melodic solo that I’ve mentioned. Some think that “Kill ‘Em All’s” simplicity here is a negative but I don’t share those views. It’s easy for someone now to say “well look at all these albums that have come out since then, this is piss easy compared to them” but just look at when this came out, this album was very much different from what was going on and helped set a standard for the upcoming thrash genre. Even then, “Kill ‘Em All” may not be as complex or technically impressive, it sure as hell is a lot more memorable as a whole compared to a plethora of albums. So yeah, just because something is simple doesn’t make it bad, moving on.

    Getting to our lineup, James Hetfield, Kirk Hammett, Cliff Burton, and Lars Ulrich all preform fantastically, for the most part. James’s performance here is very much different from how he sings on later albums as he is much more raw here. He’s just full of screeches and shrieks as he more so yells at you than he does sing at you. He does have some more melodic singing like he’d utilize on later albums, such as in “No Remorse” and “Seek & Destroy” but for the most part stays pretty powerful and raw in “Kill ‘Em All”. James is also on rhythm guitar and his skill is excellent here as he keeps up with Kirk’s impeccable leads. Cliff Burton is fantastic here as his bass lines really help shape the songs and give the music a extra dimension. Fun fact, Cliff’s only writing credit here is“(Anesthesia)- Pulling Teeth” as he would join the band shortly before the recording of the debut. Never less, his performance here is a stand out in the genre and he’d only get better with his next release.

    Kirk Hammett is a monster on the lead guitar and his early solo work is something that is hard for a lot of musicians to match now. What else makes Kirk’s solos top notch here and in early Metallica albums is how catchy those verses are. You just listen to the onslaught in “Seek & Destroy” or the beginning of “No Remorse” and not tell me that doesn’t want to make you shack head with the rhythm. Then there’s Lars Ulrich who gets the job down remaining consistent throughout. The drumming is not really complicated here on “Kill ‘Em All” nor has Lars ever been a standout drummer for me but he does do a great job on the studio albums, at least the early ones, but the less said about his…live performances, the better.

    I guess the last thing I should mention is the elephant in the room; good ol’ Davey Mustainey. It would be disservice not to talk about Dave’s contributions for Metallica as he did greatly help shape their sound early on. You know his distinct style of writing when you hear “Jump In The Fire”, “The Four Horsemen”, “Metal Militia” and “Phantom Lord” as those songs have a little more, technicality to it? More meat and bones to the riffing I suppose? I mean you just listen to that melodic solo and the slow melodic break in “Phantom Lord” and you know that Dave’s sweaty fingers were all over it. In the end, I’m glad that Dave was fired from the band as it gave us some of the best riff writing and solos in the genre over in the Megadeth camp.

    So after all of this long winded rambling, what is my final verdict on “Kill ‘Em All”? Well I personally think this a fantastic record and a fantastic debut. The album is memorable from beginning to end as Metallica handles catchiness and aggressive speed in tandem as if they were from different sides of the same coin. Their stance on the metal way of life and the lyrical subject matter is something the thrash genre still writes about, even after almost 40 years since this album released. Sure, there are some stuff that could be fixed or changed, like upping Cliff’s bass in the mix or cutting some time down in “No Remorse” but as a whole, “Kill ‘Em All” just fucking slays. It’s simple (for the most part) in its writing but difficult in its execution and Metallica definitely executes. I may not hold “Kill ‘Em All” as my favorite thrash debut, that title belongs to “Feel The Fire”, but the exceptional skills and memorability at play are something many can’t say they can repeat and with how successful and influential “Kill ‘Em All” became, it deserves every bit of it.


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