Metal

The group Lars Ulrich considered the ultimate heavy-metal band

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For an enduring span, Lars Ulrich has been a stalwart figure synonymous with the expansive realm of heavy metal. Despite not wielding the most illustrious pedigree behind the drum kit for Metallica, Ulrich’s ardent passion for all things heavy has propelled him to advocate fervently for the bands he holds in reverence. This advocacy reached a zenith when he delivered a stirring speech in homage to his idols, Deep Purple, at the prestigious Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Yet, amidst his admiration for various heavy rock acts, Ulrich discerns one band that stands unparalleled as the quintessence of the genre.

Ulrich’s musical journey unfurls when he, a native of Denmark, transplants himself to the cultural crucible of California. Immersed in a cultural odyssey on American soil, he finds himself captivated by the sonic offerings emanating from England, particularly enraptured by the bands of the new wave of British heavy metal such as Saxon and Diamond Head.

Driven by the desire to forge a musical entity, Ulrich embarks on a quest, contacting individuals in search of kindred spirits enamored with metal. This quest leads him to James Hetfield, the foundational force behind the birth of Metallica. In the late 1970s, although heavy metal was alive and thriving during their initial collaborations, the genre itself was still in its nascent stages.

Tracing the lineage of heavy music, Ulrich draws inspiration from the British blues boom era, where bands sought to create compositions heavier than their predecessors. Informed by the sonic explorations of Cream and Jimi Hendrix, bands like Led Zeppelin emerged as early torchbearers of genuine heavy metal. While Led Zeppelin may not encapsulate the metal mindset entirely, psychedelic acts from America, including Blue Cheer and the MC5, concurrently steer rock into darker sonic realms. However, a seismic shift awaited the rock world, spearheaded by four individuals from Birmingham.

Black Sabbath, fueled by the aesthetics of horror movies and an infusion of blues, emerges as the vanguard of the dark sound of heavy metal. Tony Iommi’s furious guitar riffs and Ozzy Osbourne’s haunting vocals redefine the sonic landscape. For Ulrich, deeply immersed in the sounds of Judas Priest during his formative years, the essence of heavy metal finds its epitome in Black Sabbath.

When inducting Black Sabbath into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Ulrich hails them for pioneering the dark music that propelled metal into the mainstream. He emphatically declares, “Black Sabbath is and always will be synonymous with the term heavy metal.” In Ulrich’s perspective, the very fabric of heavy metal is woven from the indelible influence of Black Sabbath. As Metallica crafts masterpieces that infuse punk tempos into Sabbath’s songs, Ulrich acknowledges that any metal band worthy of its salt is inherently indebted to the groundbreaking legacy of Sabbath. In his sage words, a metal band not drawing inspiration from Sabbath likely fails to do justice to the genre’s essence.

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