Note: This piece first appeared in Australian Guitar #134. Subscribe to our print edition here!
Ahead of their monumental Australian stadium tour this October, we’re brushing up on our panoramic knowledge of Metallica (‘cause when you’re as bad at math as our editor, you’ve gotta make up for it somehow).
Words by Matt Doria.
A is for Awards, of which Metallica have won a truly jaw-dropping amount. In addition to their obligatory induction into Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame – solidified in ’09, virtually as soon as they were eligible – the Californian thrash Gods have landed such lucrative wins as nine Grammys (with a further 14 nominations), over 40 magazine-sponsored trophies (including all 14 of their nominations by Metal Edge), and the prestigious MusiCares Stevie Ray Vaughn Award, which was handed to frontman James Hetfield in 2006 for his efforts in helping those struggling with addiction fight their way to recovery. In total, Metallica’s ever-crammed trophy room hosts a total 82 wins out of 123 nominations.
B is for the Big Four, the heavy metal equivalent of the Avengers consisting of Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax and Megadeth. The four are unitedly credited for establishing the legacy of thrash metal in the early ‘80s (the term itself originating from Anthrax cut “Metal Thrashing Mad” – prior to it, Hetfield described the bands’ collective sound as ‘power metal’ or ‘speed metal’), and sparking a reignition of the mainstream’s love for heavy music in general.
C is for Cinemas, which Metallica conquered in 2013 with the release of their debut feature film, Through The Never. Inspired by earlier movie-music crossovers like Pink Floyd’s The Wall and Yellow Submarine, the 90-minute epic combines an original thriller narrative – somewhere between Mad Max and The Twilight Zone, as bassist Robert Trujillo once described – with live footage of Metallica’s 2012 performances in Vancouver and Edmonton, Canada. Though wickedly polarising (there’s almost no dialogue, and the story beats take at least a couple of replays to really click in the mind) it remains a must-see for all Metallicaholics and film buffs – especially in 3D.
D is for Damage, Inc. – the fittingly titled world tour Metallica embarked on in support of their 1986 classic, Master Of Puppets. The most notable blowout of it came with the death of founding bassist Cliff Burton, who was crushed by their tour bus when it spun out of control on an icy Swedish highway. In Burton’s honour, however, Metallica trucked on, enlisting Jason Newstead as his temporary fill-in (though he’d go on to slap bass with the band until 2001) and slamming through the remainder of the tour’s mammoth 144 shows. Elsewhere along the jaunt, Hetfield managed to break his wrist twice (both in skateboarding accidents), and drummer Lars Ulrich came resoundingly close to being fired; the band only put their plans to oust him on ice after Burton’s death.
FUN FACT: Newstead’s welcoming to Metallica saw the band trick him into eating a ball of wasabi. Please try this at home if you’d like to become a successful bassist in a world-touring band.
E is for El Cerrito, California, where the legendary ‘Metallica Mansion’ still reigns as an emblem of metal history. Though hailing from the rock ‘n’ roll utopia of Los Angeles, the band moved to El Cerrito in ‘82 at Burton’s request – it was the only condition he leveraged over them before agreeing to join the band – and it was there, in his dingy, dim-lit garage that they would hash away at their two breakthrough records: Ride The Lightning (1984) and Master Of Puppets (1986). Of course, there were plenty other moments in Metallica history made at their El Cerrito palace – we’re not sure if many of them are suitable for this family-friendly publication, though...
F is for the Future, which, as the band have teased in recent interviews with local rags The Music and Mixdown, holds the elusive 11th Metallica album. In a chat with the latter, Hetfield declared: “I have a ton of material. I’ve over-compensated, so I’m ready to go anytime.” As for exactly when the album will make it to shelves, Trujillo has remained optimistic that we’ll be wrapping our ears around some new ‘Talica ASAP, telling The Music, “We’ve all vowed to get this one going sooner than later.” We’ve got our fingers crossed for some sort of release in 2020, though it’s likely we’ll be waiting until at least 2021 for a proper LP.
G is for Glastallica, the name tenderly adorned to Metallica’s headlining performance at Glastonbury 2014, which critics (and other billed artists) denounced in vitriol for their supposed dissonance from the rest of the lineup. The show itself was absolutely mental, though, with a two-hour long, career-spanning set packing out the paddocks with music lovers spanning the full gamut. The performance was also introduced with a seven-minute short film by renowned filmmaker Julian Temple – a solid watch in its own right, but one we’d imagine would’ve spurred goosebumps aplenty when it was beamed onto the curtain hiding Metallica’s exorbitant mainstage production.
H is for Hardwired... To Self-Destruct, the album Metallica have been plugging 24/7, 365 for the past three years without a breather. Their sixth consecutive #1 on the US Billboard 200 charts, Hardwired is an epic, 77-minute Journey through Metallica’s brutal, thrashy highs and slow-burning lows – and the reason they’ll be tearing shit up in Australian stadiums once more in October.
Thursday October 17th - Optus Stadium, Perth WA
Sunday October 20th - Adelaide Oval, Adelaide SA
Tuesday October 22nd - Marvel Stadium, Melbourne VIC
Thursday October 24th - Marvel Stadium, Melbourne VIC
Saturday October 26th - ANZ Stadium, Sydney NSW
Tuesday October 29th - QSAC, Brisbane QLD