Metallica: 30 plus years of intense, uncompromising musicBy Joseph R. Atilano
It is hard to believe that the “Metal Gods” known as Metallica has passed the 30 year benchmark for remaining active and releasing records. Not only is Metallica one of the most influential bands all of time, they also have for the longest time been an institution and almost singlehandedly have helped kept Metal alive in more than one period of time.
Early Metallica had the fast-paced songs of The Ramones, had the heaviness of Judas Priest and it was in those earlier records of Metallica that their music felt like a sledgehammer to the ears and we didn’t want it any other way. When their major label debut “Kill ‘Em All” was released in 1983, that essentially put Thrash Metal on the map and that ground-breaking album is still highly regarded to this day as one of the biggest landmark albums ever released in music history. If influence is one way to describe greatness in a band, then Metallica had loads of it.
If you check the history and timeline of mainstream Metal bands (Pantera, Megadeth, etc.) that debuted under the Metal genre, then you would see most of the other great Metal bands rose to prominence only after the album ‘Kill ‘Em All’ was released in the market. Because it was that specific release that inspired at first listeners and fans to form their own bands as well and ‘Kill ‘Em All’ was their blueprint to follow.
We sometimes talk about “game changers” and iconic bands that have changed our perspective on how things can be done in the record industry. Metallica is one of those iconic bands that definitely helped shape and broaden our own opinions of what kind of music we should listen to and not listen to during those years. On an added note, this year celebrates the 30th anniversary of the release of “Kill ‘Em All” by Metallica. That is another victory for Metallica—a band that many thought wouldn’t remain active to see the day that they would be honored for their contributions like this to the whole recording industry.
With Metallica at the helm and when they were at the height of their popularity, there was absolutely no one else like them. They were like living “Metal Gods” that nobody could topple them from their stature at that time. Even former Metallica guitarist Dave Mustaine—when he formed his own band called Megadeth—couldn’t match the aggressiveness and the might of Metallica. To this day, I don’t think there has ever been a band like them. And with a name like theirs being that of “Metallica”—it perfectly gave a description to the unfamiliar of just how hard knocking and intense their music was.
Deservingly, Metallica is a household name, especially among music aficionados in the various rock communities around the world. If ever you needed an adrenaline boost or to wake up our languid senses while going to work or just before you played a game, I found I could have those after listening to my favorite tracks from Metallica. It is the kind of ferocity they had that we wanted to emulate which made us wear black shirts, grow out our hair and raise our “demon horns.” When you consider that most bands have influences from other great and popular bands that came before them, Metallica had that same effect on almost all bands that debuted after them!
Now, if you were around my age, you would most likely remember the release of “The Black Album” that spawned mega hits like “Enter Sandman,” “Wherever I May Roam,” “The Unforgiven,” and a few more. This was the album credited for helping bridge underground metal to more mainstream listeners. This was the album that introduced me to the music of Metallica and the metal genre, as a matter of fact. It was in that old cassette tape of mine—with the black album cover and the serpent on it lower right portion—and every other kid’s Metallica cassette tapes being played full blast on the block of my street in the neighborhood that gave parents something to complain about.
While my age group was lucky enough to have heard their music when they were first released and not years later, there are a lot of kids now who are just getting introduced to the music of Metallica. And let me tell you, metal isn’t “dead” in the Philippines. There is a growing number of young “metal heads” forming their own respective bands after having listened to the music of Metallica.
The kids now have the benefit of choosing any of the albums that Metallica has released to appreciate and that is quite an extensive collection of songs for them to discover. I hope they would also feel the excitement I first had listening to those songs, especially from “The Black Album.”
Who knows what the future holds for Metallica? There is no doubt in my mind that there will only be one Metallica and that is something that no one can ever take away from them. I don’t see anything that can stop the band now from reaching another decade and achieving another milestone for them.
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