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Guitar History: Profile of Metallica
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In 1991, Metallica made an album entitled
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Guitar History: Profile of Metallica
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There are rock gods and then there are hard rock, speed metal rock gods. And, no group personifies that special sound like Metallica, a band that one could even say invented that sound. Some even call this guitar style Guitallica.Here's a profile of their incredible guitar playing style. The guitar style is really a team effort. This consists of James Hetfield on rhythm guitar and Kirk Hammett on bass that developed a combination of sinister riffs and driving leads. Joining them was Jason Newsted on lead guitar and the incomparable crazy Dane, Lars Ulrich, on drums.While some of the players have since changed, the Metallica sound originated with Hetfield and Hammett and Newsted adding more depth and complexity to the sound. The early sound of "Ride the Lightning" and "Master of Puppets" was defined by aggressive guitar playing and fast tempos that became known as speed metal or thrash metal. It’s hard not to get the image of the guys’ long hair flailing around as they banged their head against an imaginary wall while playing.However, in 1991, the band decided to slow the pace and came out with a decidedly more mainstream album entitled simply, "Metallica." Here, they proved they didn’t just play fast, but they could also create a rock sound that appealed to the masses with driving guitar and pulsating bass. "Enter Sandman" became a classic song and grabbed the rest of the world’s attention.This set the tone for further exploration of their guitar playing abilities and of the sound they wanted to create. They veered toward the more alternative and farther away from the heavy, pulsing sound of their early days.Suddenly, their personal lives and other factors led them to move away from insane, in your face guitar solos and more toward a focus on composition and lyrics. Many fans were left scratching their heads, especially when they released an album with the San Francisco Symphony in which they took a dramatic approach to their songs. However, they proved that some rock gods can truly play all styles of music. The electric guitar does sound pretty awesome with violins, cellos, and the trombone. With the release of "Load," they stripped their guitars down to a very stark and empty sound and followed this up with "ReLoad" in which they tried to incorporate more blues and country guitar sound like in the song, "The Unforgiven II." This meant more rhythm guitar and harmony structure to the guitar aspects of each track. The guitar solos became a thing of the past, which made the sound of the last few albums very raw and personal for the band.Always innovative and never afraid to change their sound, Metallica rages on. Yet, they have recently returned to their hard-driving roots with guitar solos while throwing their usual sound curve balls with Middle Eastern flair. Consistently listed as one of the top-10 performers of all time, seeing Metallica live––even if you’re not necessarily a metalhead––is a must.
I'm Jonathon Stewart, with About.com.
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