Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
From left to right:Kirk Hammett, James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, and Rob Trujillo
"You can always tell a Metallica fan; a fan of any other band, you ask them, 'What music do you like?' they say, 'I like U2, I like Genesis', you ask a Metallica fan, they're like Metallica, man! Oh, scuse me, I gotta get to work...'"
Jim Breuer
...[N]otoriously grumpy rock gods.

The one, the only. Formed in the early '80s when aspiring Danish tennis player/drummer Lars Ulrich placed an ad in a Los Angeles newspaper, which, in one of those moments of synchronicity, was answered by singer/guitarist James Hetfield. With lead guitarist Dave Mustaine and bass guitar virtuoso Cliff Burton, Metallica was one of the pioneering bands of Thrash Metal, and is considered one of the "Big Four" of thrash, along with Anthrax, Slayer, and Megadeth (the last formed after guitarist Mustaine was kicked out of the band and replaced by Kirk Hammett, late of Exodus).

In the heady days of The Eighties, they forged their way from being the supporting act at tiny club gigs to opening for and headlining stadium tours, with next to no support from radio. Their '86 album Master of Puppets was hailed by critics as a metal masterpiece, but on the subsequent tour, Burton was killed in a bus accident. Choosing to continue on in spite of their grief, they auditioned and hired Jason Newsted, an intense young musician who became the perennial "New Guy" and the butt of 14 long years of hazing, starting with being mixed out of the ...And Justice For All album entirely. It was with this album that the band first started getting accusations of "selling out", after they put out a music video for the song "One", something fans claimed they had promised in the past they'd never do.

In The Nineties, the band moved away from thrash metal (according to Hammett, "Touring behind it, we realized that the general consensus was that songs were "too fucking long", though the rise of Grunge and alt-rock probably also had something to do with it), first coming out with their massively successful self-titled album Metallica (aka "The Black Album"), then the rock-, country- and blues-tinged alt-rock pair Load and ReLoad. The band were mostly quiet for a while, and when they finally set about making a new album, they had a full-on Creator Breakdown, with a fed-up Jason leaving the group (from a combination of his continued hazing treatment, Hetfield's refusal to allow him to become a full songwriting partner, and a neck injury that needed rest), James going into rehab for alcoholism, and the entire future of the band in doubt. St. Anger, the album forged in the midst of all this, is disdained by most fans, though for others it's an interesting experiment hamstrung by its intentionally unpolished production and overly introspective lyrics. Luckily for the band, new bassist Robert Trujillo both helped them mellow out and encouraged them to mix up their setlist on a nightly basis, pulling out songs they hadn't played for the better part of 20 years. Their latest album, Death Magnetic, is the most in-character effort they've had in years, but is a casualty of the Loudness War, and whether it's any good depends entirely on who you ask. In 2011, they collaborated with Lou Reed on Lulu, which has been panned by just about everyone that has an opinion on it. In 2012, to tie into their 30th anniversary mega-reunion shows, they released Beyond Magnetic, an EP consisting of four songs left over from the studio sessions for Death Magnetic.

Metallica is perhaps best known for its somewhat turbulent relationship with its fans. Some of this is the result of their long career and their experimentation with other musical styles. The fanbase tends to divide thusly: "hardcore" metalheads that stay away from anything after Justice, or after Master if they're not into prog-metal (Hetfield even mentioned in interviews that the band lost some especially vocal fans after the acoustic guitar intro on "Fade to Black"); fans who got into the band with the Black Album and like their anthemic '90s style better; those who uncritically love everything the band releases; and some who seem to exist solely to antagonize the band and other fans. Metallica hasn't always helped this situation. Lars Ulrich's crusade against Napster left a bad taste in the mouths of many, who wondered if he hadn't just shot his own band in the foot. Ulrich has never outright apologized for some of the things he said during this time, although the band has been much more internet-friendly since then, playing nice with iTunes, putting up old shows online for free, and allowing recent concertgoers to download a copy of the show they attended. They also cottoned on with atypical shrewdness to the popularity of Guitar Hero and the potential that their guitar-driven songs had in the format. After licensing a few of their more popular tunes for the series, they went the whole hog by releasing their most recent album as downloadable content, and followed it up by co-developing Guitar Hero: Metallica, an entire game allowing players to perform as the band themselves. (The Metallica tracks in any given Guitar Hero or Rock Band game are generally amongst the hardest, because...well, it's Metallica.)



  • James Hetfield - vocals, rhythm/secondary guitar
  • Kirk Hammett - lead guitar
  • Robert Trujillo - bass
  • Lars Ulrich - drums

Past members:

  • Dave Mustaine - guitar, 1981-1983
    • Put on a Bus (literally) right after flying to New York to record "Kill 'Em All" and vowed to avenge this perceived slight, forming Megadeth soon after. Claims to have written much of the material, including Kirk Hammett's guitar solos, on Metallica's first two albums, though this is Dave Mustaine we're talking about.
      • Kirk confirms that he was instructed to start his solos on Kill 'Em All like Dave's, due to how late he showed up into the process. Dave has songwriting credits on nearly all of Kill 'Em All and Ride the Lightning, but long form composition was always James and Lars.
  • Ron McGovney - bass, 1981-1982
    • Played bass on early Metallica demo tapes. Quit because he hated Mustaine. Largely unremembered by any but the most hardcore fans.
  • Cliff Burton - bass, 1982-1986
    • Probably would have lasted longer if he hadn't died in a Bus Crash (literally) while on tour in Sweden. Was noted for both his technical wizardry on the bass and his uncompromising personal beliefs. A classically trained pianist who both Hetfield and Hammett have said taught them much of what they know about music theory, Burton famously forced the group's relocation from Los Angeles with his reply to Hetfield and Ulrich's job offer: "Move to San Francisco and I'll join your band."
  • Jason Newsted - bass, 1986-2001
    • An Ascended Fanboy who ended up being The New Guy for 14 years. After endless hazing by the other members, repeatedly having his bass mixed out of the songs, and only having three writing credits on four albums, he finally had enough of the abuse and quit, kicking off the chain reaction that nearly destroyed the band. Additionally, he had never enjoyed the songwriting influence of the others (only three co-writing credits in his tenure), and his efforts to have side projects, such as Voivod, were constantly being shot down by Hetfield. His only stated reason for leaving was that he'd sustained a neck injury from headbanging, though it's believed he made more of this than there really was in order to avoid airing his grievances in public.
  • Bob Rock
    • Never an official member of the band, but provided the bass for parts of St. Anger. He's more (in)famously known for producing or co-producing all of Metallica's albums from The Black Album through St. Anger.


  • 1983 - Kill 'Em All
  • 1984 - Ride the Lightning
  • 1986 - Master of Puppets
  • 1988 - ...And Justice for All
  • 1991 - Metallica (the Black Album)
  • 1996 - Load
  • 1997 - ReLoad
  • 1998 - Garage Inc.
  • 1999 - S & M
  • 2003 - St. Anger
  • 2008 - Death Magnetic
  • 2011 - Lulu, an album in collaboration with Lou Reed


  • 1987 - The $5.98 EP: Garage Days Re-Revisited
  • 2012 - Beyond Magnetic

Metallica provides examples of the following tropes:

The band members themselves/live performance

  • The Alcoholic: Most of the band members have struggled with alcoholism at some point, to the point where the band was nicknamed "Alcoholica" by some fans, In particular, Dave Mustaine, whose alcoholism and violent behavior when he was drunk was a big factor in his being fired from the band, and James, who had to undergo rehab for his issues with it.
  • Ascended Fanboy:
    • Jason, who was a fan of the band before being hired as the new bassist, and became famous as part of his new gig. Unfortunately for him, the rest of the band never let him forget that he was, first and foremost, Cliff's replacement.
    • Also true for Rob, though less so, as he came to the group with his own professional history (Suicidal Tendencies, playing bass with Ozzy Osbourne on tour) and a more even footing.
  • Audience Participation Song: It's actually harder to name Metallica songs that haven't become this at one point or another. "Seek And Destroy", "Enter Sandman" (especially if you're an old-school ECW fan or a fan of Virginia Tech football), "Creeping Death", "Master of Puppets", and "The Memory Remains" are some of the most prominent. "Suicide & Redemption", an instrumental, became one during Metallica's first ever live performance of it without the band even calling for it, when the crowd started singing the melodic, slow solo in the middle of the song.
  • Badass Baritone: Hetfield pulls this trope off nicely. Notable in interviews due to the relatively high voices of Lars and Kirk.
  • Badass Beard/ Badass Mustache: Hetfield has gone for this look to one degree or another since the Justice days. As his hair has thinned out on top, his beards have gradually gotten bigger.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Every one in the band dropped the F bomb at least once per sentence in the early days, as can heard on Live Shit: Binge and Purge. They were surprisingly restrained about it at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert, though.
    • Even then, James still managed to add a couple of f-bombs into the lyrics of "Stone Cold Crazy."
  • Continuity Porn: Their 30th anniversary shows. The only thing they DIDN'T have was Cliff's ghost. It featured Jason Newsted, Glenn Danzig, Rob Halford, Ozzy, Lou Reed, Bob Rock, Dave Mustaine, Ron McGovney, Lloyd Grant, and Hugh Tanner (who wasn't even in Metallica) among others.
  • Cool Old Guy: Ray Burton, Cliff Burton's father. He's over 80 and still sometimes appears in Metallica things, and appears remarkably cheery despite his often depressing life (he's outlived his two sons and his wife).
  • Fan Service / Fan Disservice:
    • Lars has a tendency to strip down during shows, especially hot ones, until he's down to his tighty whiteys with sweat flying everywhere.
    • James also occasionally removes clothing, but he stops with his shirt, and so the majority of Metallica's fans have never seen James Hetfield in his underwear (unlike Lars).
  • Great Balls of Fire:
    • The very thing that resulted in James getting severe burns on the left side of his body and (indirectly) allowing Guns N' Roses to cause a riot by refusing to play for more than half an hour. They later mocked this very trope during the Load tour, where the stage setup "collapsed" during "Enter Sandman" and a member of the crew ran across the stage while on fire. They then came back out and played encores using small lights hanging from the scaffolding and mobile amps wheeled onto the stage.
    • Used to great effect during their performances of "One".
  • Heel Face Revolving Door: Dave Mustaine can't seem to remember whether or not James Hetfield is his enemy. Currently, they seem to be getting along quite well, if the Big Four shows at the Sonisphere Festival are any indication. For whatever reason, though, Dave still dumps on Ron McGovney, the original bassist. The other members neglect him in favor of Cliff sometimes, too (it's honestly hard not to), but Dave went as far as referring to the Ron-era band as a three-piece with him happening to be around them and in their band, but not really important at all. Ron disputes this, saying that he learned to play bass in a short time, and without his house and sometime managerial skills, the group would never have gotten off the ground.
  • Important Haircut: Lampshaded, years before people knew what Lampshading was, by friend of the band and Alice in Chains bassist Mike Inez on that group's MTV Unplugged performance (which was filmed shortly after Load was released) when he scribbled "Friends don't let friends get Friends haircuts..." on his bass. And Metallica was in the audience for that performance. Made Hilarious in Hindsight during the 30th Anniversary shows, when Alice in Chains's Jerry Cantrell performed with Metallica, and he was the one with the "Friends haircut".
  • Keet: Those who knew Lars Ulrich when he was a teenager describe him as being a hyperactive young man who was extremely enthusiastic about heavy metal. Brian Slagel of Metal Blade Records recalls that whenever they would go to the specialty record stores in the early 1980s to buy imported NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal) albums, Lars would jump out of the car before it had even stopped moving because he was so anxious to get new metal albums to listen to. After Brian Slagel had founded Metal Blade records he planned on putting together a compilation album called Metal Massacre featuring local heavy metal bands. When Lars found out about this he got so excited that he begged Slagel to let him record a song for the album despite the fact that Lars wasn't even in a band at the time. This motivated Lars to call up James Hetfield and Lloyd Grant (after the two realized they were short two members, and could get James to play bass) to help him record a song for the album, and that's the story of how Lars' keet-ness resulted in the birth of Metallica.
  • Kick the Dog: Done to each other by James and Dave; the most notable incident is when James literally kicked Dave's pit bull for attacking Ron McGovney's 1972 Pontiac LeMans.
  • Lead Bassist: Cliff Burton, type A and (among older/more fanatical fans) type C.
  • Long Runner Lineup: As much as Jason was the New Guy for 14 years, his tenure is the longest of the band without changing members so far (14 years). Right behind is the Trujillo line-up, since 2003. Cliff likely would have stayed longer were it not for his tragic death.
  • Michael Kamen: Served as the composer for S&M.
  • Nice Guy: Kirk, Jason, and Cliff deserve special mention.
  • Nice Hat: Lloyd Grant has one sweet hat on during the 30th anniversary show.
  • Nobody Loves the Bassist:
  • Once Per Episode: "Are you alive? How does it feel to be alive?", usually said by James before the solo to "Battery" or "Fight Fire With Fire".
  • Rashomon Style: The exact details of how Dave Mustaine left the band tend to change depending on who's telling the story.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The two founding members of Metallica, James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich, are known for having very different personalities. Lars is known for being loud, outgoing, and enthusiastic while James is stoic, taciturn, and introverted.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Kirk Hammett and James Hetfield.
  • Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll:
    • In their early days the band was sometimes nicknamed "Alcoholica" because all the members were such heavy drinkers.
    • Metallica's struggle with alcohol was a significant reason for their nasty split with Dave Mustaine. "Some Kind of Monster" was in part about how years of that lifestyle frays a person.
  • Start My Own: After being fired from Metallica for his drug, alcohol, and violence problems, Dave Mustaine formed Megadeth.
  • Streisand Effect: The band's, and Lars's in particular, opposition to the Napster peer-to-peer downloading service served only to make their songs even more widely pirated and, even though Napster ended up being shut down, their actions largely contributed to the rise of decentralized peer-to-peer servers.
  • Survivor Guilt: It's thought that a great deal of James' angst in the post-Puppets albums stems from having survived the bus accident that took Cliff's life.
  • Ur Example: Kill 'Em All is generally believed to be the first full-length Thrash Metal album ever released. Thrash metal had previously been included on various compilation albums, but Kill 'Em All was the first album entirely devoted to thrash.
    • Others argue that Welcome to Hell by Venom was the first thrash metal album, but Kill 'Em All was the first one to sell a lot of copies.
  • What Would Cliff Do?: Popular among fans. Expect Cliff to be cited both against ("Cliff is spinning in his grave" is common) and in favor of (Cliff wasn't just into metal) whatever they've just announced.

Media and Fandom

  • Ascended Meme: Metallica's first album was called Kill 'em All and the cover art was a hammer in a pool of blood. Then they spotted a fan wearing a homemade shirt at one of their shows that said "Alcoholica" and had replaced the hammer with a bottle spilling booze, and titled it "Drink 'em All." They stole the idea and printed up their own shirts.
  • Digital Piracy Is Evil: The Napster controversy. To the band's credit, they've been much better about embracing the Internet and new technology since then, but some downloaders are still bitter. Lars has joked that his obituary will have "Napster" in its first paragraph.
    • Notably averted when they posted an ENTIRE ALBUM on the internet 12 days before it was fully released worldwide.
    • They also allowed fans to stream Death Magnetic from their official web site prior to the album's release.
  • The Eighties: Thrash metal, denim, and long hair.
  • Iconic Logo: One of the most iconic in all of metal music. It's so widely recognized that if you see anyone's logo for any purpose, and the consonants at the ends have stretched-out uprights with barbed ends, you know exactly who they're ripping off.
    • This was averted from Load through St. Anger, which featured variants on the original logo.
  • Kill'Em All: Not an example, but the Trope Namers.
  • Licensed Game: Guitar Hero: Metallica.
  • Manly Tears: Many were shed over Cliff's death. Try watching either this or this without shedding a few of your own.
  • Mythology Gag: The bonus disc Demo Magnetic has demo versions of all of the songs from Death Magnetic, with different titles. The title that the demo version of "Suicide and Redemption" (a long instrumental) goes by is "K2LU", an apparent reference to that other long instrumental "The Call of Ktulu".
  • The Nineties: General metal, alt-rock, black clothes, and short haircuts.
  • Record Producer: The band has had:
    • John Zazula (executive producer) and Paul Curcio on Kill 'Em All.
    • Flemming Rasmussen for Ride The Lightning (only engineered), Master of Puppets, ...And Justice For All
    • Bob Rock worked on The Black Album, Load, Reload, S&M, Garage Inc., St. Anger and Some Kind of Monster.
    • Rick Rubin on Death Magnetic (whom Kerry King claims to have been stolen).
    • The band has self-produced (or at least co-produced) nearly the entire discography with the exception of Kill Em' All and Death Magnetic.
  • Refuge in Audacity: The band originally wanted to call their first album "Metal Up Your Ass" (complete with metal spike coming out of someone's toilet), but the record label wouldn't have any of it. So they changed it to Kill 'Em All, which the company apparently had no problem with, and then made an Ass t-shirt with the original concept art.
    • Ironically enough, the record executives were the ones they wanted to kill all off.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Arguably, Jason for Cliff. The rest of the band had never really got over their grief, though, and never let him forget that he was the New Guy.
  • Ride the Lightning: Again, not an example, but the Trope Namers.
  • Rockumentary: Some Kind of Monster
  • San Francisco: The home of the band, and the setting for many of the videos, including an obligatory chase scene with Hetfield in a black muscle car for "I Disappear."
  • Signature Style: Graphic artist Pushead's work is so synonymous with Metallica's image that the band really doesn't need a Mascot like Megadeth's Vic Rattlehead or Iron Maiden's Eddie the Head.
  • Something Completely Different: Arguably the point behind Metallica. Besides Hammett's comment about the songs being "too fucking long" and his claim that one of the band members swore that they'd never play "...And Justice For All" (the song) again after a grueling concert (he also mentioned "seeing the front row start to yawn by the 8th minute"), Hetfield recounted that they were encouraged to actually pursue the direction when they saw that a previously Glam Metal-infected MTV was showing harder Grunge stuff.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: Hetfield likes to do this, a lot.
    • On the back of their S&M album, in lieu of a track listing, they just added a picture of the setlist they used for the show. All the song names have been shortened this way. ("Puppetz")
    • Used in the recording sessions shown on Some Kind of Monster, and lampshaded in the film Some Kind of Monster when James noticed someone misspelled "Metallica" to read "Metllica"
    • Apparently in high school, he wrote his name as "Jaymz" on his papers and whatnot.
    • Besides "Jaymz", the band members were named "KRK", "Jasun", and "Larz" in the inner sleeve for The $5.98 EP: Garage Days Re-Revisited.


  • After the End: "Blackened".
  • And I Must Scream: "One."
    • Also applies to "Trapped Under Ice" which is about a person who is cryogenically frozen but still conscious.
  • Arc Words: 17 years apart, but they're there: "Fuck it all and fucking no regrets" from "Damage Inc." (1986) and "St. Anger"'s title track (2003).
  • Author Vocabulary Calendar:
  • Bad Dreams: "All Nightmare Long"
  • Bawdy Song / Auto Erotica: Notably averted when the band repurposed Dave Mustaine's "The Mechanix", full of double entendres about sex in an auto repair shop, into "The Four Horsemen", an ode to the Apocalypse. The song is arguably better for it, but don't let any Megadeth fans hear you say that...or Mustaine, for that matter. They then played it completely straight in their word-for-word Cover Version of the most profane British punk songs ever recorded, "So What?!", even though the song is a parody about two drunken idiots attempting to outdo each other.
  • Bedlam House: "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)"
  • The Bible: "The Four Horsemen", about the characters of the same name, and "Creeping Death", about the ten plagues of Egypt.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: "Ain't My Bitch," St. Anger to some extent, and most of all, their cover of the Anti-Nowhere League's "So What?".
  • Contemplate Our Navels: Started with "Dyers Eve" from ...And Justice for All. Increased on the Black Album and the Load and ReLoad years, reaching its peak on "St. Anger" and "Some Kind of Monster".
  • Cosmic Horror: The band has three pieces, two lyrical and one instrumental, directly inspired by the Cthulhu Mythos, of which Kirk Hammett and Cliff Burton are/were huge fans: "The Call of Ktulu" from Ride the Lightning and "The Thing That Should Not Be" from Master of Puppets, and "All Nightmare Long," from Death Magnetic, which was inspired by the Hounds of Tindalos, though most people just remember the zombies from the video.
  • Cue the Sun: The ending to "The Unforgiven II"
  • Death Row: "Ride The Lightning" which is about execution by the electric chair.
  • Do Not Do This Cool Thing: "For Whom the Bell Tolls". Although it's about the futility of war, it's a kick ass song that gets one's adrenaline pumping.
  • Driven to Madness: From "The Thing That Should Not Be"

Drain you of your sanity
Face the thing that should not be

Taste me, you will see
More is all you need
Dedicated to
How I'm killing you

  • Eagle Land: And Justice For All (the album) is a Type 2. "Don't Tread On Me" from The Black Album is a Type 1. James said they wrote the latter in response to the anti-American vibe that the former had given and that, even though he feels there is a lot of bad stuff in America, he still considers himself lucky to live there.
  • Eldritch Abomination: "The Thing That Should Not Be" is inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft, and may even be about Cthulhu himself.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: "The Four Horsemen", "Fight Fire With Fire", and "Blackened".
  • Enter Eponymous: "Enter Sandman".
  • Fate Worse Than Death: "One" details the life of a soldier, after he loses all his limbs, his sight, his speech, and his hearing due to a landmine. He has machines that breathe for him, and so he's unable to die. His mind functions perfectly, leaving him a prisoner in his own body.

Darkness, imprisoning me
All that I see
Absolute horror
I can not live
I can not die
Trapped in myself
Body my holding cell

The final curtain all I see
How true is this?
Just get it over with
If this is true
Just let it be.

  • A God Am I: From "Ride The Lightning" which denounces capital punishment.

Who made you God to say
I'll take your life from you

On the fight, for they are right
Yes, but who's to say

Fearless wretch
He watches
Lurking beneath the sea.

Someone help me
Oh, please God help me
They're trying to take it all away
I don't want to die

  • Intercourse with You / Hormone-Addled Teenager: Mostly averted, as the band doesn't really have any songs about sex. However, "The Four Horsemen" was originally called "The Mechanix", filled with double entendres about sex in an auto mechanic shop. It was released in the original form on Megadeth's debut album, "Killing Is My Business...and Business Is Good". Additionally, "Jump in the Fire", a song sung from Satan's perspective, was originally about teenage sexual frustration; this version can be heard on the No Life 'til Leather demo.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: "Enter Sandman" which quotes the "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep" nursery rhyme verbatim.
  • Isn't It Ironic?:
    • Not a particularly bad offender but the use of "Master of Puppets" in the film Old School is a little odd during the scene where Beanie, Mitch, and Frank are kidnapping the pledges, seeing as the song is about drug addiction.
    • The use of "For Whom The Bell Tolls in Zombieland. Again, not a bad offender, but the song is about war between humans and other humans, not between humans and zombies.
  • Mad Lib Metal Lyrics: In general, Metallica is noted for averting this, but they play it straight in "Metal Militia".
  • Mercy Kill: The narrator of "One" asks for this.

Fed through the tube that sticks in me
Just like a wartime novelty
Tied to machines that make me be
Cut this life off from me
Hold my breath as I wish for death
Oh, please, God, wake me

  • Missing Mom: "The God That Failed" is about James's mother, Cynthia, who was a strict Christian Scientist. She refused treatment for cancer due to her beliefs, and died when James was 16.
  • Mondegreen: It's inevitable the way they stretch their syllables on.
    • In "No Leaf Clover" it sounds like they're saying "And I'm constipated" when really they're just repeating "And it comes to be that".
    • "Don't Tread on Me": A lot of people mishear the line "So be it, threaten no more" as "Soviets threaten no more," which is understandable as the album was released during the implosion of the USSR.
    • "AND OF BAKED APPLE PIES!" ("and of things that will bite" from "Enter Sandman").
  • Motor Mouth: Compared to most Metallica songs, "That Was Just Your Life" from Death Magnetic counts.
  • Myth Arc: "The Unforgiven" trilogy, possibly. They're united in subject matter, even if they're not about the same guy.
  • Murder Ballad: Their cover of The Misfits' "Die, Die My Darling". Not exactly a ballad, but...
  • Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep: Famously quoted verbatim in "Enter Sandman".
  • One Nation Under Copyright: "And Justice For All" (song)
  • The Power of Rock: "Metal Militia"
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • "Am I Evil" (cover): "Am I evil / Yes I fucking am!"
    • "Damage Inc.": "Slamming through / Don't fuck with razorback" and "Fuck it all and fucking no regrets"
    • "Dyer's Eve": "I've outgrown that FUCKING lullaby!"
    • The live, orchestrated version of "Master of Puppets" from S&M. The second time the line "Dedicated to how I'm killing you" is played, James replaces the word "killing" with "fucking".

Dedicated to how I'm fucking you!

    • Kirk's comment about Justice:

Touring behind it, we realized the consensus was that the songs were too fucking long.

I got something to say/I raped your mother today.

I'm your truth, telling lies
I'm your reasoned alibis
I'm inside, open your eyes
I'm you!

Need… more and more
Tainted misery.
Bleed… battle scars
Chemical affinity.
Reign… legacy
Innocence corrode.
Stain… rot away
Catatonic overload.

I'm your truth, telling lies
I'm your reasoned alibis
I'm inside, open your eyes
I'm you!

I got something to say/I raped your mother today.

I got something to say/I killed your baby today.

Music/Music referential

James: Shit! Fuck! Cunt! Faggot! Slut! Your Mom!

  • Audience Participation Song: Some songs seem made to elicit this effect.
    • Go to a Metallica concert and you'll be able to chant "Die! Die! Die" along with the whole audience during the song "Creeping Death."
  • Concept Album:
    • Disputed, but Ride the Lightning, Master of Puppets, and ...And Justice for All each have thematic elements linking their songs together (death, those whose fates are controlled by others or who control others' fates, and the miscarriage of justice, respectively).
    • Death Magnetic is a borderline case, with Hetfield saying the general idea of the title was inspired by the untimely deaths of several friends and colleagues.
  • Cover Version: Lots. They covered "Remember Tomorrow" by Iron Maiden for the Maiden Heaven tribute album. They also did a cover of "Ecstasy of Gold", one of the songs Ennio Morricone did for The Good the Bad And The Ugly, and usually open their concerts with the original piece. There's also a heavier version of "Stone Cold Crazy" by Queen, which they even played at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert. It was one of the earliest metal songs, and numerous metal bands have played covers as a way of tribute.
    • Cover Album: The $5.98 EP: Garage Days Re-Revisited, including songs from Diamond Head, Killing Joke and The Misfits (this was also Newsted's debut). Later, an entire double album of them, Garage Inc., with one disc being reissues of their older covers and the other being new covers, including Bob Seger's "Turn the Page", Thin Lizzy's version of "Whiskey in the Jar", and Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Tuesday's Gone".
    • They also have tribute albums of their songs covered by other artists; Metallic Attack: The Ultimate Tribute by other metal artists and one by punk artists, A Punk Tribute to Metallica.
    • Generally speaking, if Metallica covers a song, it's going to be awesome. Even The Wizard of Oz music.
  • Distinct Double Album: The compilation of covers, Garage Inc..
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The pre-Kill 'em All demos. James is wailing like Robert Plant (actually more like Sean Harris, but still), Dave is wailing away, Ron is plunking along and Lars is being Lars. The production quality is also often (no surprise) quite poor.
  • Epic Rocking: They frequently have songs over 5 minutes long, but some really fit the trope, such as "One", "To Live is to Die", "The Outlaw Torn", "And Justice for All" (the song), and the King Diamond medley "Mercyful Fate".
    • Considering the 5-minute referential, Death Magnetic and ...And Justice for All (the album) are 100% made of this trope.
    • The Lulu album has 3 songs over 10 minutes, with the longest being "Junior Dad", which is almost 20 minutes long!
  • For Doom the Bell Tolls: "For Whom the Bell Tolls", obviously.
  • Heartbeat Soundtrack: "That Was Just Your Life".
  • Instrumentals: "(Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth", "The Call of Ktulu", "Orion", "To Live Is To Die", "Suicide & Redemption".
  • Lampshade Hanging: "King Nothing" is structurally identical to "Enter Sandman". The last line of the song is "Off to never never land..."
  • Large Ham: Whenever James is being overtly evil, he screams and hams up. "CANNOT KILL THE BATTA-RY!"
  • Loudness War: Death Magnetic is particularly infamous for this.
    • And yet the Guitar Hero song pack has the unaltered master tracks that avoid this, no seriously. The general rule for Death Magnetic is to buy the album, throw it out, and burn this version instead.
    • Beyond Magnetic, being songs left over from the sessions for DM, has a rough mix that's very loud but manages to avoid DM's clipping issues.
  • Medley:
    • Giving a recorded example, we have the appropriately named "Mercyful Fate", which mashes up five songs from King Diamond's old band.
    • During the Load tour, a mash-up of older songs called "Kill/Ride Medley" was frequently used.
  • Metal Scream: Metallica are Gods at this.
  • Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Every album in the 80's and in the 21st century ranged from 7 ("Seek and Destroy") to 9 ("Battery", "Disposable Heroes") with ballads starting around 4 to end around 8, with the exception of "Fade To Black," which goes up to about 6 or 7 on the hard parts, and "Escape", which is a radio-styled Scrappy that is at about 5/6. The Black Album's songs are between 6-8, with "The Unforgiven" around a 4 and "Nothing Else Matters" at a 2. The Loads were 6 and 7, with some 2-4s in there as ballads, and a couple songs (such as "Fuel" and "Wasting My Hate") bordering on 8.
  • New Sound Album: The Black Album, Load, ReLoad, St. Anger, S & M. Inverted with Death Magnetic, an "Old Sound Album".
  • Non-Appearing Title: "Fade to Black", "...And Justice for All", "Disposable Heroes", "Enter Sandman" and "The Unforgiven III"
    • Additionally, while "Enter Sandman" doesn't have a line that goes "enter sandman", it does have the following:

Keep you free from sin/'till the sandman he comes

  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Hetfield sometimes sings with great emphasis, on syllables at times. A good recorded example is "Through the Never."
  • Self-Backing Vocalist: Hetfield does all the backing vocals himself on the albums. At concerts, Kirk, Jason, and now Rob do the backing vocals.
  • Something Something Leonard Bernstein: "Battery".
  • Song Style Shift: "Fade to Black," "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)", "One" and "The Day That Never Comes". Furthermore, their instrumentals after Ride mellow out considerably two thirds in before becoming heavy again.
  • Sophisticated As Hell: When introducing the song "Seek and Destroy" live (as seen in their 1989 Seattle show), James would sometimes say the title in a faux-fancy manner.

James: It goes something like "Seek... and... Destroy."

  • Speedy Techno Remake: "YOU LIVE IT YOU LIE IT", a happy hardcore remix of "Frantic", made by the electronic musician Renard under his "Captain Gotobed" alias.
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: "Nothing Else Matters", "Hero of the Day" and "The Day That Never Comes". "Fade to Black", "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" and "One" start out like this, but build up in intensity.
  • To the Tune Of:
    • Metallica borrowed the intro of Bleak House's "Rainbow Warrior" for "Welcome (Sanitarium)"; the bridge is based on "Tom Sawyer". The latter was acknowledged/lampshaded by thanking Rush in the Master of Puppets liner notes.
    • They lifted large parts of "Children of the Damned" by Iron Maiden for "The Unforgiven II"

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