10 Times Metallica Did Whatever The Hell They Wanted

The landscape of music would never be the same.

metallica james hetfield
Wikimedia Commons

The shining light of the heavy metal community, this year Metallica celebrate 40 years together as a band, a feat that few bands before them have managed to achieve and none with the rabid success of the Bay Area pioneers.

Undoubtedly the most successful metal band on the planet, Metallica’s journey from the snot-nosed thrash punks who wrote the scabrous Kill ‘Em All to the arena conquering juggernauts of the modern day is a storied one.

Full of both critical acclaim and outrage, both the highs and lows of this long standing achievement are down to Hetfield, Ulrich et. al fearlessly pursuing their own creative vision, even if it does sometimes mean shouldering some unwanted consequences.

For all their missteps, however, this stubborn insistence to do things their own way has often been the thing that separated Metallica from the pack. Their pedigree, still standing and selling out stadiums where so many others have fallen before, is a testament to this.

Whether changing the rules of the genre, conquering the big screen or even taking on their own fans, Metallica will not compromise, and here’s ten times that they proved that in spades.

10. 1984 - Fade To Black Redefines The Limits of Thrash

The feral bastard son of New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) and Punk, Thrash Metal exploded out of the California Bay Area in the early 80s as a vicious rejection of the preening Glam Rock craze of the time.

Adorned in denim, leather, long hair and beer stains, the Thrash bands of these early years played a their music at a breakneck pace, full of guitar shreds and double kick drums, whilst barking their vitriol aimed squarely at the Christian Right and Conservative Reagan Establishment of the time.

Metallica emerged as one of the early success stories, and after a few line up reshifts, the iconic Four Horsemen of James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett and Cliff Burton were all but unassailable. Following the relatively meat and potatoes affair of debut Kill ‘Em All, Metallica broadened their horizons on follow up Ride The Lightning,

Without compromising on their brutality, Metallica managed to introduce far more sophistication into their repertoire, largely aided by the classically trained Burton, and nowhere was this more obvious than on the 7 minute masterpiece Fade To Black.

A largely acoustic pseudo-ballad dealing with the despair of suicidal feelings, the song’s light and shade shifts between the angelic and the amplified immediately struck a chord with the fanbase, and its heavy subject matter allowed to to fit perfectly within the genre despite its stylistic shifts. A hint of things to come, this was the first bit of proof that these alcohol fuelled upstarts had more in their arsenal than fast tempos and fiddly solos.

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Hampshire based Writer who spends his time rewatching Deep Space Nine, trying to be an actor and voraciously consuming every Metal album he can find. Final Fantasy IX is the greatest game of all time and this is the hill I will die on.