Metallica’s Essential Songs – Album By Album

On April 14th 2023 Metallica, the most successful ever Heavy Metal band, release their thirteenth studio album 72 Seasons. The record lands 40 years after their debut Kill Em All arrived in 1983, and changed the course of heavy music forever, as the Bay Area teenagers led the way in creating the new sub-genre of Thrash Metal.

Over the course of the eighties Metallica would release the ground breaking Thrash albums Ride The Lightning (1984), Master Of Puppets (1986) and And Justice For All … (1988), before releasing the self titled pinnacle of their career (otherwise known as the ‘Black Album’) in 1991. An album which saw them experiment with a slower Heavy Rock influence, and which to date has sold over 30 million copies.

Their shift away from their Thrash Metal roots was complete when they released Load (1996) and Reload (1997), diving further into an Alternative Rock influence in a time shortly after Grunge had become the in-vogue sound, and Seattle bands such as Alice In Chains and Soundgarden had clearly influenced the Metal masters. While in 1998 Metallica released their studio covers album Garage Inc. which featured a host of classic songs from the likes of Black Sabbath and Mercyful Fate.

As the new millennium arrived, Metallica hit a cross roads in their career as the now middle aged men had to come to terms with reigniting the fire within. This proved difficult after nearly two decades in which they had reached the very top, by selling millions of records and headlining festivals and stadium shows across the world. They also underwent their fourth line up change, to complete the transition into a new era for the band.

Formed in 1981 by drummer Lars Ulrich and guitarist James Hetfield, the initial line up was completed by bassist Ron McGovney and guitarist Dave Mustaine. As the band built their name gigging and worked their way towards the release of Kill Em All, McGovney was replaced by Cliff Burton, and then Mustaine was sacked. The fiery guitarist was replaced by Kirk Hammett (Exodus), and would of course go on to form Megadeth, and write his own story in the history of Thrash Metal.

Tragedy struck in 1986 when Cliff Burton was killed after the bands tour bus crashed in Sweden, whilst Metallica were touring Master Of Puppets, and he would be replaced by Jason Newsted (Flotsam And Jetsam) who would remain until he quit in 2001. Newsteds departure would coincide with the remaining three members struggle to put together their critically panned ninth album St Anger (2003). Which featured longtime producer Bob Rock filling in on bass duties, before Rob Trujillo (Suicidal Tendencies / Ozzy Osbourne) joined for the proceeding tour, completing the line-up that stands today twenty years later.

The modern era of Metallica would see them return to form with Death Magnetic (2008), their heaviest and most Thrash orientated album since the eighties, before releasing the surprising and highly polarising Avant-Gard and experimental collaboration Lulu (2011), with the ageing Rock icon Lou Reed (The Velvet Underground). Their last album Hardwired To Self Destruct (2016) arrived bristling full of catchy new songs, with a little sprinkling of everything they’d delivered before, throughout their long and illustrious career.

And as 72 Seasons arrives, following a campaign of drip feeding a number of once again Thrash-tinged new singles into the ears of fans over the last few months, we pick what we feel is the best track from each of their albums through the years. Providing a chronological snapshot of the very finest music Metallica have to offer. KZ

Words by Abstrakt_Soul

Kill Em All : Seek & Destroy (1983)

Written by Hetfield / Ulrich

Ride The Lightning : For Whom The Bell Tolls (1984)

Written by Hetfield / Ulrich / Burton

Master Of Puppets : Master Of Puppets (1986)

Written by Hetfield / Ulrich / Burton / Hammett

And Justice For All : Harvester Of Sorrow (1988)

Written by Hetfield / Ulrich

Black Album : Nothing Else Matters (1991)

Written by Hetfield / Ulrich

Load : Bleeding Me (1996)

Written by Hetfield / Ulrich / Hammett

Reload : The Memory Remains (1997)

Written by Hetfield / Ulrich

Garage Inc. : Whiskey In The Jar (1998)

Written by ??? (Irish Folk Song made famous by Thin Lizzy)

St. Anger : St. Anger (2003)

Written by Hetfield / Ulrich / Hammett / Rock

Death Magnetic : The Day That Never Comes (2008)

Written by Hetfield / Ulrich / Hammett / Trujillo

Lulu : The View (2011)

Written by Reed / Hetfield / Ulrich / Hammett / Trujillo

Hardwired … To Self-Destruct : Here Comes Revenge (2016)

Written by Hetfield / Ulrich

72 Seasons : If Darkness Had A Son (2023)

Written by Hetfield / Ulrich / Hammett


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