The pioneers of thrash metal and just plain “metal” established themselves as a heavy act with four brutal albums during their run in the 80s.
The first, “Kill ’em All” sent the proverbial metal-up-your-ass attitude with blistering guitar riffage, blazing leads shared by Kirk Hammett and Dave Mustaine respectively, and punk inspired vocalizations. Cliff Burton’s alien like bass skills lent a helping ‘umph’ to the drum stylings of Lars Ulrich.
“Ride The Lightning”, Metallica’s second effort, blended melodic/classical syncopation with heavy doses of straight up metal. Stand out tracks on this album include ‘Fade To Black’, ‘Trapped Under Ice’, and ‘The Call of Kthulu’. Once again, Dave Mustaine appears without actually having been apart of the band since the ‘No Life Til Leather’ days.
The most mainstream of the Metallica albums during the 80s has to be “Master of Puppets”. A fantastic array of melodic thrash and straight up groove inspired tracks earned Metallica a trip around the world once again. Cliff Burton shines more than ever on this album, regaining the limelight as bass guitar hero. Sadly, it was to be his last album with the band before his untimely death courtesy of a tour bus accident in Sweden with the band. Dave Mustaine’s sun-scorching solos and bluesy razor-edged licks are absent on this album, letting Kirk Hammett shine all on his own.
“…And Justice For All” seemed to lighten the band’s mood and add more melodies to the already classical inspired tracks. The addition of a new bass player in Jason Newsted lent the change a somewhat alternative feel.
After the 80s, the band seemed to find its true mainstream audience with a plethora of radio-friendly efforts that include teaming up with Bob Rock for the “Black Album”, “Load” and “Re-Load”. With the emergence of Bob Rock, this trend seemed to solidify well into the new millennium with the release of “St. Anger” in 2003.
The cover album “Garage Inc” and a live Michael Kamen-led San Francisco Symphony collaboration titled “S&M” were the only highlights of the 90s.
In 2008, Metallica released their long-awaited answer to the panned “St. Anger” titled “Death Magnetic”, by far their best album since “…And Justice”.
Metallica followed-up with 2016’s “Hardwired… to Self-Destruct” which upped the bad-assery by easing the grip on melody for full on heavy destruction.
Definitely a force to be reckoned with during the 80s, Metallica inspired a legion of bands to come, and has still garnered new fans and attention after more than 30 years.