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Musical and Cultural Impacts of Metallica

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Music
Wordcount: 1228 words Published: 8th Feb 2020

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One of the most influential bands in contemporary music is considered to be the Metallica which managed not only to provide the new sound in heavy metal but also contribute to the cultural phenomenon of alternative music. In particular, the primary impact of Metallica on the music industry can be mentioned with the aggressive sound and fast tempos which were not peculiar among the heavy metal bands. Although Metallica emerged as the underground music, the revolutionary sound of this band became appealing to a much wider audience and provided the separate direction for the heavy music. In addition, the shows of Metallica were unique in terms of not being as epic and spectacular as popular glam rock bands in the ‘80’s. In this regard, it is vital to admit that the uniqueness of Metallica was in the sophisticated and yet aggressive heavy music, which influenced the occurrence of the thrash metal and new cultural direction among fans of heavy music.

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Describing the sound of Metallica, one may mention that the most peculiar features of their music are fast and aggressive tempos which provide the energetic experience. Also, the sound of Metallica involves the long instrumental parts which enhance the musical expression of the band. Although with the development of the music, the band embraced the more melodic and conventional sound, the early works of Metallica were centered around the fast and heavy tempos. The original and unique style of the band is the primary reason why it is so appealing even after so many years. Considering that the music of Metallica provides the exciting emotions and desire to move along the fast tempos, this sound was not peculiar to the “hair metal” bands of the ‘80’s. Hence, the sound of Metallica was revolutionary even among the heavy metal bands due to the overall aggressiveness in beats and low-register guitar riffs. Moreover, the style of Metallica also involved the harmonized leads. The combination of excessive aggressiveness and yet harmonized sound managed to provide an example of the sophisticated musicianship in the heavy metal genre. Subsequently, the music of Metallica was considered to be revolutionary due to the fact that its added the extra aggressiveness in the heavy metal and managed to preserve its core music principles.

However, Metallica was revolutionary not only in terms of music but also in a cultural sense. Considering the popularity of “hair metal” bands which had similar appearance and epicness in shows, the occurrence of Metallica was something different and opposing to the style of glam rockers. The style of Metallica was more brutal and did not involve the flamboyant clothing and shows. This uniqueness in the representation of the band also signified that the underground culture can be appealing to a wider audience. Therefore, Metallica embraced the overly brutal style as the revolt against the mainstream culture of bright glam rock bands. In particular, one may mention that the simplistic presentation of the band on the concerts and their clothing emphasized the transition from the glam rock culture to the brutal aesthetics of underground. The refusal to present the stereotypical style of shows which were peculiar to the 80s can be described as a cultural shift of alternative music. In addition, the fans of Metallica managed to relate to this style and considered that this band represented the underground and subcultures as the widely popular cultural phenomenon. Thus, Metallica is known to be the band which successfully popularized the unique and extreme subgenre of heavy metal music in the times of the highly popular glam rock bands.

The primary source of influence for the music and style of Metallica was the New Wave of British Heavy Metal which had a unique musical appeal. For instance, one may mention the bands like Motörhead and Iron Maiden. These bands impacted the development of the speed metal which eventually became the core component of Metallica’s fast tempos and aggressive sound. Notably, the punk rock and rock bands like the Ramones, AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Sex Pistols, Kiss, and Queen significantly influenced the understanding of the genres for Metallica. Nevertheless, considering the genuine uniqueness of Metallica, it is impossible to highlight the most impactful band. Metallica managed to reconsider the core features of heavy metal and rock in order to provide a unique genre. However, the lyrics of Metallica also were important in the success of the band. The themes of the band’s songs were frequently related to the different social, personal, and political matters. Also, some of the lyrics were influenced by books and literary stories. For instance, the lyrics one of the biggest hits of Metallica “One” was inspired by the book Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo. In addition, the song “For Whom the Bell Tolls” was influenced by Ernest Hemingway’s novel with the same title.

Discussing the social influence of Metallica, it is vital to mention that its music managed to unite the diverse people from different subcultures. Namely, the early concerts of Metallica were full of punks, skinheads, metalheads, and rockers because of the consideration that the music of this band managed to appeal to these subcultures. Moreover, considering that the sound of Metallica embraced the features from the different alternative genres, the diverse audience of the band derived from the different subcultures. The simplistic and classical shows of Metallica also created an atmosphere of the genre which cannot be associated with the particular subculture. As a result, Metallica’s concerts revolutionized the idea of being connected to one culture and provided the understanding that all subcultures should be able to find the features of the common subcultural affiliation. For instance, one of the most famous early concerts of Metallica at The Metro, Chicago in 1983 involved the diverse audience which appreciated the incredible energy of the band rather than its association to the particular subculture (RockJock). Subsequently, it is vital to admit that the popularity and appeal of Metallica to the diverse audience reflect its influence on the music industry as a whole. In particular, Metallica is considered to be the perfect example of the band which made underground music with unique features as part of the mainstream culture.

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In conclusion, one may agree that the revolutionary sound and cultural influence of Metallica is one of the most notable occurrences in the music industry. Mainly because this band managed to reinvent the heavy metal and provide a fresh look at the existing alternative genres. Additionally, Metallica signalized the revolt against the glam rock and its bright and flamboyant expression. The sophisticated lyrics and music of the band are still relevant and have a significant appeal even to the contemporary audience. Nevertheless, the most important legacy of Metallica is the understanding that it influenced the unity of the diverse underground cultures.    

Work cited

  • RockJock. “Metallica Live at The Metro 1983.”. YouTube. 2018, https://youtu.be/6Lgd890cFtA


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