James Hatfield explains how Metallica pioneered thrash metal

Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr

No matter how you feel about them, Metallica has had a profound influence on culture. They are by far the most well-known of this group and are considered one of the “Big Four” of thrash metal, along with Slayer, Megadeth, and Anthrax. They received a lot of praise for their early efforts in developing the blistering style.

In addition, Metallica has taken a slightly different route than its contemporaries. The band has seen enormous crossover success since their 1980s peak because to a more rock-oriented style that gave rise to songs like “Enter Sandman” and “Nothing Else Matters.” Although the band has had members come and go and numerous chapters, the fact that they are a household name despite being a metal band speaks volumes about the seriousness of their efforts. At the moment, they are comprised of vocalist James Hetfield, guitarist Kirk Hammett, bassist Robert Trujillo, and drummer Lars Ulrich.

Metallica frequently sparks discussion among its followers and adherents of more general metal music because of their lengthy and fluctuating discography. Discussions frequently center on how their early years, which included late bassist Cliff Burton as their hidden weapon, were their greatest. This era, which ostensibly consists of their 1983 debut Kill ‘Em All, 1984’s Ride the Lightning, and their final album with Burton, 1986’s Master of Puppets, is unquestionably their most influential, having an impact on everything from Korn to Stranger Things.

The thrash Metallica perfected on these albums serves as an example of how powerful music can be when it completely deviates from the norm, combining the lightning speed of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) with the directness of hardcore punk and an overall disdain for Reagan’s America.

So how did Metallica start the thrash metal genre? In a 1992 interview with Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi for Guitar World, James Hetfield reflected on the early years of his band and how they came to be known as a defining act in the thrash genre. When questioned directly about how Metallica invented thrash, Hetfield replied: “Like Tony, we also played cover tunes when we first started. We were really influenced by the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, which included bands like Venom and Diamond Head – underground stuff.”

He continued, “We learned a bunch of their songs from a batch of obscure singles that Lars had collected. Most people thought we were performing originals because they had never heard any of the shit before – which was good for us! We took all the credit. You know: ‘Hey, you guys write good songs,’ ‘Yeah, I know’.”

Hetfield claimed that the band began to play more quickly as a reaction to the unappreciative fans, which irritated them. He remembered: “We certainly weren’t going to tell them the truth. Eventually, we started playing everything faster because, just like with Sabbath, the crowd wasn’t paying attention to us, and that pissed us off.”

Metallica’s tempo and volume increased as a result of other causes. These were the LA audiences that were focused with mingling and Lars Ulrich’s “nervousness”. Hetfield said, “In LA, people were just there to drink and see who’s there and shit. We decided to try to wake everybody up by playing faster and louder than anybody else.”

The frontman concluded, “Nervousness also contributed to our sound. Lars was always nervous on stage, so he’d play faster and faster. That was a huge challenge for us, but nobody wanted to wimp out and tell him that he was playing too fast. We just figured, ‘Hell, we’ll just play fast, too.'”

Write A Comment