From 80s thrash to stadium-filling 90s anthems, and beyond
It’s just over 40 years since James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich formed Metallica, naming their San Francisco thrash band after the music they loved and would spend an unprecedented career transforming. The mix of speed, power, heaviness and precision they perfected in the 80s redefined metal, and when they set out to lay siege to mainstream rock, they did it their own way. Over the years, they’ve proven that their music can be emotionally and musically nuanced in ways that might not have seemed possible when they first burst onto the scene with Kill them all in 1983. Last year, when a huge group of artists, from St. Vincent to Moses Sumney to J Balvin, came together on The Metallica Blacklist to pay homage to the band’s 1991 classic, The Black Album, it was just one more proof of the extent of their influence.
In honor of Metallica’s incredible run, here are the band’s 50 greatest songs, chronicling the strengths of a band that was never afraid to challenge themselves while staying true to a vision and a fundamental message.