Over the years, there have been very few artists and bands that have been able to stand the test of time. You see, music has become somewhat seasonal over recent years. Since the surge of social media, and therefore, prominence in the way we consume our music, the longevity of music has become shorter than ever. There was once a time where mobile phones didn’t have cameras, radio was our time for exclusives from our favourite artists, and lining up outside of the local record shop was the only version of a Spotify subscription on the market.
But when we’re talking legendary status in the music world, there are only a few names that come to mind. You could think about the likes of Prince, Amy Winehouse, Queen… But there is one name that is continuing to make the same noise now, as they were doing then. Metallica has been the most popular heavy metal band on the planet for around 40 years now. Having been formed in 1981, the group consisted of the original four: drummer, Lars Ulrich; guitarist and lead vocalist, James Hetfield; bassist, Ron McGovney and guitarist, Dave Mustaine.
However, once the original four completed their first recordings and performances, the line-up changed with bassist, Cliff Burton, and guitarist Kirk Hammett replacing McGovney and Mustaine prior to the release of their full-length debut album, Kill ‘Em All, in 1983.
Following the successes of Metallica’s debut studio album, the world really began to listen. Heavy Metal was more popular than ever, and the following the band had created, was growing at an exponential rate. Next up for Metallica was their 1984-released album, Ride the Lightning. This was later considered to be one of the classic albums of thrash metal history. But while the band continued to take on the world, they were soon signed by a major label, Elektra Records, later proving to be a pivotal move in Metallica’s quest for world domination. Their third album, Master of Puppets followed in 1986 under the Elektra umbrella, another record tipped as one of the most influential metal albums of all time.
Soon after the release of album number three, tragedy hit the Metallica camp. The subsequent tour was postponed when bassist, Cliff Burton was killed in a bus accident. Of course, a period of mourning then followed. The remaining members then ultimately decided to continue with the band, recruiting a new bassist that followed with a new album.
As new bass guitarist, Jason Newstead was introduced, the subsequent album came in the form of Justice for All. The fourth album was one that gained the most commercial success, charting within the Billboard top ten. But aside from the charting and sales, the music took a new direction. Creating a more cohesive and structurally complex sound than before, the new-look Metallica began to show a new lease of growth and maturity. In line with the new Metallica sound, the commercial success also led to the band’s first-ever music video for their top 40 single “One”.
Continuing to build on the success of Justice for All, the year 1991 saw the release of their self-titled album, also known as The Black Album. It went on to top several charts across the world and shot the band into a new level of global popularity. The best-selling disc yet held some of Metallica’s most famous records. Take in well-known singles, “The Unforgiven,” “Enter Sandman,” and “Nothing Else Matters,” for some added context.
The release of the previous album allowed the band to build when it came to their next.
The group was now a group of veterans, and creating masterpieces was nothing short of light work. Metallica did leave some time between The Black Album and their next, however. A number of years touring slowed down the creation of another new album, but soon their second number one-charting album, Load, was born. Many of the Metallica purists were critical of the album, with the sound taking yet another musical direction that distanced them from their early thrash metal days.
Another number one then came for Metallica. Their album, ReLoad, hosted the successful track, “The Memory Remains,” a song that would go on to steal the show during the following years of touring. The band also came out with releases such as the covers/compilation album, Garage Inc., and the live effort, S&M. Years of touring and experimenting with their sound then lead to two of the biggest culture-shifting moments in the history of Metallica. The metal band contributed to the ‘Mission: Impossible II’ soundtrack, while simultaneously filing a lawsuit against Napster. The band -- led by drummer, Lars -- alleged that the file-sharing network had infringed upon their copyrights by allowing people to download their music for free, and this, eventually led to the service’s demise.
More changes were then made to the band. Newstead was the newest departure in early 2001, and then Metallica began working on their next album with producer, Bob Rock temporarily taking over on bass. The recording process was the most turbulent the band had experienced, with front-man, James Hetfield, enduring regular stints in rehab. The recording process was filmed and released as the 2004 documentary ‘Some Kind Of Monster’.
The album St. Anger then finally came out in 2003. The record did have some mixed reviews, however, but it still managed to premier in the first position of the Billboard 200 and topped various international charts. The effort was thought to have had less traditional heavy metal sounds and lacked guitar solos, but St. Anger still won a Grammy for its title cut. The band then recruited their latest bass player, Robert Trujillo, and went on a lengthy tour.
Five years after the release of St. Anger, the group dropped Death Magnetic. The reviews were positive following its release, and it ended up being Metallica’s fifth consecutive number-one debut. This record also marked the return of their thrash metal beginnings with its technically complex guitar solos. The band then headed back out on tour, where they would also drop a number of short EPs.
Now, Metallica is still as relevant as they have ever been. Having released a project titled My Friend of Misery (From Jason’s Tapes), the group has also ventured into other avenues, more specifically, fashion. The classic Metallica band tees have been iconic for all metal fans across the globe, and as of last week, the latest Metallica collection has seen them team up with ourselves here at BODA. Comprising of three t-shirts, a hoodie, and two Kay Michaels jacket linings, this latest BODA SKINS x Metallica collection comes to show where the rock band is in its journey right now: still innovating, still evolving and still brilliant.