Metallica is generally known as one of the greatest heavy metal bands to have influenced the music industry since 1981. They stand next to Slayer, Anthrax and Megadeth as one of the founders of the genre known as thrash metal, known for shredding guitar parts and incredibly frenetic drum beats. Metallica’s style is essentially a mash-up of new wave speed metal and hardcore punk, using the guitar style of the former and the percussive style of the latter. While many bands try to emulate them today, they were incredibly unique when they first grew to popularity in the 1980s.
Many of Metallica’s songs are notable for their fast and sudden changes of tempo. Their style is almost violent, yet despite the bizarre treatment of rhythm and the aggressive melodies, many critics and fellow musicians agree that Metallica’s songs are still tightly composed from a technical standpoint. Their style is often especially notable in songs such as “Enter Sandman,” “Fight Fire With Fire,” “Ride the Lightning” and “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” The song “The Ecstasy of Gold” is also particularly notable, as they traditionally use it to open their concerts, although this is not an original song but rather a cover of the similarly titled song from the film The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
The band was not just notable for its general thrash metal style, but for their unique and rebellious lyrical approach. They also push boundaries in ways that most other bands did not when they first arrived on the scene. For instance, there is an electric bass solo on the song “(Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth” that lasts approximately five minutes. This was during the days in which Cliff Burton was their lead bassist and Dave Mustaine was their lead guitarist. These roles have since been filled by Robert Trujillo and Kirk Hammett, respectively. The band’s original drummer and lead vocalist, Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield, are still members to this day.
Like many heavy metal bands, Metallica is known for often taking a rebellious stance against the mainstream establishment. This is especially prevalent in their 2013 film, Metallica Through the Never. This film is not the only medium through which the band has extended beyond the music world, having also been the subject of a 2009 video game, Guitar Hero: Metallica. Their legendary influence is nothing if not widespread.
The band’s lyrics are not all about bucking the establishment. They have also dealt with a fair bit of emotion and serious themes. Such thematic elements include suicide, drug rehabilitation, self-redemption, and claustrophobia. Despite many thinking that the band is a negative influence on its listeners (primarily due to lyrical references to the devil), they have taken a hard stance against drugs and have included this viewpoint in a number of their songs.
Metallica started out with virtually nothing, but became one of the most influential rock bands in the 1980s to continue performing today. The rawness of their lyrics and the energy of their musical style have been in influence on numerous heavy metal bands, and their stance against drugs has been appreciated by many who have taken the time to truly listen to the themes behind their songs. While their band no longer consists of its original lineup, those who were around to hear them in the 1980s have largely agreed that their earlier years have greatly impacted the manner in which they continue to impact the music industry today.
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