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Lars Ulrich on the fall and rise of Metallica

After conquering the world, Metallica let their creative impulses run riot – and have had a wobbly few years as a result. But as Lars Ulrich says, to succeed, you've got to take chances...

Every generation has its icons, that handful of unassailable bands whose arrival heralds a musical and cultural step-change, and whose success is matched by their influence. In the early 1970s, it was Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. A decade later, it was Iron Maiden. And then came Metallica.

For the last 30 years, the San Francisco giants have been the benchmark by which every metal band is judged. The 100mph rush of their early days ushered in a new era for metal, but it was third album Master Of Puppets – released just a few months before the first issue of Hammer – that took them to another level.

“That was the record that changed things, sure,” says Lars Ulrich today. “It opened up doors to all these places we didn’t know existed. We were touring with Ozzy, we were starting to get famous, we were starting to be accepted by people who weren’t the denim and leather kids.”

For the first half of their career, Metallica barely put a foot wrong. Master Of Puppets led, via the prog-metal excursions of …And Justice For All, to The Black Album – still the biggest pure-metal album ever released – and tours that circled the world more times than a Russian spy satellite.

But sometime around the mid-90s,things started to go wrong for this once-bulletproof band. The unexpected one-two of Load and its companion album Reload wrongfooted fans who expected the Even Blacker Album. Today, those two records stand up way better than their detractors would have you believe.


From the archive

From the archive

From the archive

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