Guitarist highlighted points such as a very clear definition of the sound they would make and belonging to a larger local scene
When the Metallica released his first album, Kill ‘Em All, In 1983, heavy metal wasn’t exactly new. Bands like Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, among many others, they were already building solid careers in the segment.
However, there was something different about the American group, later credited as one of the pioneers of so-called thrash metal. The sound presented in its beginnings was like a fusion between elements of New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM — in free translation, New wave of British heavy metal) and punk rock. Both movements reached their peaks between the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s.
What was so different about Metallica according to one of its oldest members? The guitarist Kirk Hammett, who joined the group in 1983 in the vacancy left by Dave Mustaine, presented a reflection on the subject in an interview with the American radio 93.3 WMMR (via Blabbermouth / Igor Miranda website).
Hammett admitted he is still amazed when he hears Kill ‘Em All and his successor, Ride the Lightning (1984). The guitarist noted that they were all “very young”, but very determined about what they wanted to do. That was the big difference.
“We had a very clear vision of what we wanted to do, how we wanted to sound, how we wanted to perform things, the type of music we wanted to create. No matter how young we were, we all had a collective vision and knew exactly what we wanted. What we were looking for was unique.”
Interestingly, that wasn’t the first important thrash metal band to have Kirk in training. Before joining the Metallicahe was part of the exodus, another group considered seminal for the subgenre — even though it did not achieve the same success. In the interview, he mentioned his former colleagues and other artists in the segment, generally also belonging to the same region, the San Francisco Bay Area, in the United States.
“Few other bands had the same vision. It was us, the Slayer, Anthrax, Megadeth, Exodus, Overkill, Testament… We had a joint goal. But what strikes me is that we are more or less the same age. I don’t know if that happens nowadays. You just find a big group of people, a scene where everyone is in the same thing and supporting each other. And then the record companies started saying, ‘What’s going on?’ and they were curious.”
Metallica made history
Another point raised by Kirk Hammett during the interview was the impact caused by the Metallica and other thrash metal bands. This, according to him, was not measurable at the time. It was only in the following years that it became felt.
“We were kind of just going with the flow of things. We didn’t stop and reflect on what we had achieved. Today, 40 years later, I’m able to do that and say, ‘Man, we really did it.’”
Owner of a winning career, the Metallica is the most successful metal band in history. There are more than 125 million records sold across the planet, according to an updated count in 2018. Only one of these works, the eponymous 1991 album (also known as Black Album), had more than 30 million copies sold around the world. In the United States, this is the most successful album since the year it was released, with 16 million units there.
On stage, the group also stands out. Your WorldWired Tour, held between 2016 and 2019, it is the 12th highest-grossing musical tour in history, with US$430 million raised from 143 performances.
Earl Johnson is a music writer at Gossipify, known for his in-depth analysis and unique perspective on the industry. A graduate of USC with a degree in Music, he brings years of experience and passion to his writing. He covers the latest releases and trends, always on the lookout for the next big thing in music.