What Metallica mean to me

ride-the-lightningFor me it started with Ride the Lightning. That was the first Metallica album I heard. The time was right, I was 14 and ready to progress from Bon Jovi and the likes onto something a bit more, well, a bit more metal. It wasn’t the most current Metallica album, that would be …And Justice for All, but it so happened to be the one I picked up in my local library. And it was the beginning of two hugely important relationships that shaped the music I listened to back then and the music I still listen to, 23 years later.

The first of these was with a guy called Barry. He worked at the library, in the music section. Long hair, check shirts, mid 20s and working with music all day every day, he was the guy I hoped I would grow into. He worked in a library, I was pretty sure I could sell this one to my mum as a career path.

The second was with the band. Both these relationships dovetailed nicely. Barry, seeing my interest in Metallica, would start to suggest albums and bands that I should give a listen to. It was through this that I first listened to Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax and then moving further on to bands like Mudhoney and the Pixies. And through listening and then reading about Metallica I would find out about their love of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) acts like Diamond Head and then through that I wold dig even further back and then start to explore bands like Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and the mighty Led Zeppelin.

Barry’s guidance – and his penchant for ordering in a helluva lot of metal for such a small library – and the inspiration from Metallica to look back at the roots of heavy metal remain massive influences on my listening. The bands I mentioned earlier all remain on heavy rotation to this day.

And that’s what Metallica mean to me. I think it’s a similar story to a lot of people around my age. They’re the band that’s the cornerstone of their musical tastes. Not only that but Metallica are the sort of band that you form a bond with. You just need to look at the 30th anniversary concerts they had to see how much they mean to their fans, the Metallica family.

The band became huge, almost transcending the genre, overcoming tragedy, personal demons and an ill-advised foray into guyliner. But they remain both hugely influential and following 2008’s Death Magnetic album and the monster tour that accompanied it, as potent a musical force as ever.

Enjoy our week and a half of Metallica.

Graeme Campbell

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