Have you ever been curious about Metallica’s musical development and where they acquired their signature sound? In this article, we explore the band’s musical development.
The United States and the United Kingdom were major incubators for heavy metal’s growth in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It grew out of the fusion of psychedelic rock and blues rock. Its thick, massive sound sets heavy metal apart from other genres. This dense sound combines loud and heavily amplified distortion, pounding drums, and lengthy guitar solos. The impact is bolstered by the voices, which are essentially a yell, and the deep bass.
Aggressive singing is a key component of Heavy Metal’s high energy level. Black Metal, Death Metal, Power Metal, Thrash Metal, Speed Metal, and countless others are all offshoots of the original Heavy Metal style. Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, and Anthrax are the “big four” of the Thrash Metal subgenre. Aggressive lyrics, instrumentation, and rapid tempos are hallmarks of thrash metal.
Is Metallica considered Thrash, Death, or Heavy Metal?
They released thrash metal with heavy metal influences throughout the 1980s. The release of The Black Album had a considerably harder metal and hard rock style, with undertones of grunge, although the thrash metal style has since dispersed. Their music during the mid-1990s was virtually entirely hard rock.
Metallica’s music lacked the heaviness characteristic of true metal at the time. The music on Garage Inc. was extremely varied, with just around half of the tracks being metal. Took a major step in the right direction in reintegrating them into the metal community in the 2000s. There are elements of death metal, thrash metal, and nu metal.
Heavy Metal had already matured when Metallica formed in the early 1980s. But, a style developed simultaneously with music, mostly because their aesthetic had such a profound impact on what their followers dressed, so Metallica sported the stereotypical Heavy Metal style:
- Sleeveless shirts
- Tight denim pants
- Long waves or curls
- A generally untidy appearance
Aside from increasingly donning denim and leather jackets, their appearance remained unchanged from the 1980s into the 1990s. By 2000, the band members had all spruced up a bit, with James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich getting buzz cuts and Kirk shortening, straightening, and re-establishing his fringe.
Denim jackets were less common, while leather ones remained popular; they also stopped shortening their sleeves and were more frequently seen in a plain black tee. Metallica wore simple outfits in 2005, like t-shirts, jeans, and flannel shirts.
Though Kirk and Robert maintained their long hair, Lars and James’s hair never grew back. When performing live, Metallica typically wore all black.
Metallica’s massive commercial success may be directly attributed to the band’s high-caliber music and its infectiously upbeat songs. Metallica has put out nine full-length albums of original material. No Metallica record has not been successful, albeit some have been more so than others.
A peak sales chart for each album is provided below. For example, Metallica’s self-titled record, sometimes known as “The Black Album,” has been certified 15 times platinum, with the corresponding numbers placed vertically.
According to the statistics, Metallica’s self-titled album has sold nearly twice as many copies as their second-best album. Metallica’s records and musical abilities have developed since the band’s inception, as evidenced by the steadily growing fan base accompanying their commercial success.
Metallica’s career declined after “The Black Album,” although the band’s subsequent releases were still commercially successful. People think Metallica’s quality dropped following their self-titled album due to the band’s new image, which consisted of all the members having their hair shaved off.
Key Musical Elements
Since heavy metal is primarily characterized by its loud nature, the dynamics of Metallica’s songs tend to be also loud. Many songs have varying dynamics, such as “Fade to Black,” which begins quietly but gradually builds in volume.
Metallica’s songs feature harmonies resulting from multiple instruments playing various notes simultaneously. At the beginning of Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters,” for instance, there is harmony because Kirk plays two separate notes simultaneously.
Almost all of Metallica’s songs feature catchy hooks. Their guitar riffs, repeatedly played, serve as the basis for the songs’ melodies. For example, the guitar riff that opens “Enter Sandman” is reprised at the beginning of verses and during the chorus, making up the song’s melody.
The drums, the singers, and the other instruments contribute to the song’s rhythm. Most Metallica songs have a fast and complex rhythm, with the fast beat of the drums and the lack of space between the notes matching the rhythm guitarist’s short and thick strumming pattern.
The complexity stems from the small amount of space between many of the notes in the songs, and their solos are beyond the complex, packing as many notes as possible into a short amount of time. The song “Damage Inc.” perfectly illustrates this concept. Metallica’s music is often associated with speed and complexity; however, the band’s song “Nothing Else Matters” is a good example of a slower, less intricate tune.
The heavy metal genre, of which Metallica is a part, is commonly defined by a quick pace and a high volume, and so are most of the band’s songs. The song “Master of Puppets” is a fantastic example because of its quick and exciting percussion beats and the sped plucking of power chords on the rhythm guitar.
Approximately 90% of Metallica’s merits are artistic. Metallica’s dedication to their music and creations, the time and energy they put into both for their fans and their enjoyment of themselves, are examples of their artistic abilities. James Hetfield is a prime example of this. This fiery, unyielding determination, devotion, and energy made James an inspirational figure for millions of fans.
Metallica’s versatility as a band can also be seen in the fact that they have never been afraid to try new things in their 32 years together. There has been no deliberate attempt to maintain the same sound or following as the debut album. “We try not to let ourselves be influenced too much by what’s happening around us musically,” “We never let commercial music trickle into our psyches too much.” “Kirk Hammett”
Metallica’s song structure is one of its most marketable features; the band’s songs typically consist of an introduction, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, solo, chorus, and finish.
Metallica’s commercial success can be attributed partly to the band’s unwavering adherence to the hallmarks of their musical subgenre, including brisk tempos, a meaty bass line, severely distorted guitars, and violent vocals.
Without a doubt, Metallica has had an impact on modern business across many sectors, from fashion to manufacturing standards to music and beyond. They’ve experimented with and combined aspects from many different styles, but we can all agree that the “Metallica genre” best matches their style and sound.
Death metal enthusiast here. I am a Romanian musician and producer with over 13 years of experience in the music industry. I’ve experienced all types of Metal up until now, playing Melodic Death Metal, Brutal Death Metal, and Black Metal with different bands. Learning by doing is my base principle, which is why I’ve been drawn to sound design from an early age. Read more…