Time & Location
About The Event
Say the words ‘heavy metal’ to anyone in the world, no matter their age, location or musical taste, and the first band to come from the majority of people’s mouths would be Metallica. The San Franciscan quartet are a year away from celebrating their 40th anniversary as a band, and the fact that they do so as the biggest metal band of all time – and with no one looking even remotely, vaguely close to troubling that fact – says it all.
Metallica are icons. Gods. Whatever hyperbole you wish to insert here, the shoe fits. An omnipresent, monolithic presence on the metal scene, it’s often worth reminding yourself exactly why this has happened to Metallica, rather than the temptation, when discussing their unwieldy career, to focus on their various missteps.
Metallica changed the face of heavy metal in the early 80s. Essentially the first thrash metal band – and, okay, if not the first, then certainly the one that perfected the style the quickest – they oversaw a sea change from what metal was thought as, and where people thought it came from. Pre-Metallica metal was bombast from Britain. Metallica turned it into brutality from the USA.
They ushered in an era in which we still reside, where metal is predominately thought of as an American genre. They took the speed and technicality of NWOBHM and injected it with US hardcore’s fury, but remembered to keep its classical roots as well. From thrash, death metal, grindcore, black metal and every other extreme metal genre was spawned. Could it have happened without Kill ‘Em All in 1983? Would metal bands have been so daring, so progressive and so sonically rich, whilst still remaining heavy without Master Of Puppets in 1986? Would metal ever have managed to find a place on MTV and rock radio without the pitch black, hard rock blueprint of 1991’s The Black Album?
It’s hard to say. What certainly is true is that Metallica, at the very least, sped that process up. Most likely, they were the act that bashed all of those doors down for everyone else. Endless fantastic bands have rushed through those doors ever since, but still we go back to Metallica. Still we flock to stadiums every other year to hear those classic songs. No matter what motormouth drummer Lars Ulrich has recently said to piss, you still stick on Ride The Lightning and bang your head.
When you remember how disastrous Lulu, their 2011 collaboration with Lou Reed, was, you watch the video for One and forgive them everything. For most bands, a failed Grammy performance with Lady Gaga, a box office flop of a movie, a battle with their own fans over illegal downloading, the sound of that fucking snare on St Anger would be enough to kill their career stone dead.
That is the power of Metallica, and that is why they are still the biggest heavy metal band of all time. Even when they get it wrong, you forgive them, because when they get it right, they get it more right than metal has ever been.