The greatest metal band of the 80’s and 90’s is Metallica. Starting out in 1981 with the release of Kill em’ All, Metallica set the new precedent for metal with their street, fast ,raw, and angry noise. They were opposed to the glam imagery of Metalists before them and pioneered the metal subgenre Thrash, characterized by an aggressive, faster paced sound then previously seen within metal. The band has had varied members over the years but founders include front man James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich. Lead guitarist Kirk Hammond came into replace Cliff Burton after he was tragically killed in a road accident whilst on tour, making him the third longest and final of the core three Metallica members.
After widespread success within the metal community through the release of Master of Puppets and AndJustice for All, Metallica decided to move in a new direction for their next album. With the release of 1991’s self titled album, commonly referred to The Black Album, Bob Rock took over production and Metallica bridged the divide between metal enthusiasts and more mainstream music lovers. Metallica was a defining moment for the band, as it was made in a way that would appeal to a larger audience whilst still appeasing their more traditional metal fans. Tracks such as Nothing Else Matters and The Unforgiven were massively popular, with regular airplay on radio stations across the globe, and the album sold over 7 million copies alone in the US, going platinum in 11 countries. Metallica were the biggest band in the world.
2001 saw however, bassist Jason Newstead abruptly quit the band after nearly 15 years, due to Hetfields insistence that he was spending too much time on his other band Echobrain. Newstead, feeling stifled of creative input in Metallica, felt this was bulls**t and decided no one could restrict him like that. The ensuing 3 years saw Metallica through a difficult period, with front man Hetfield battling addiction, no one in to replace Newstead, and creative clashes with principal contributors Hetfield and Ulrich, seeing Metallica on the brink of self implosion. The 2003 Documentary Some Kind of Monster portrays the band over this period, however after Hetfield underwent rehab, followed by a one year hiatus from the band, Metallica regrouped and released St Anger to mixed reviews, with some metal enthusiasts criticizing the bands lack of guitar solos, and progressive rock elements. However Metallica kicked on and in 2008 released Death Magnetic, their 9th studio album, which heralded a return to Metallica’s thrash roots. They were back. Metallica continue to be one of the world’s biggest band and have cemented their place as pioneers, and a significant influence, in metal and music history.