What Genre Is Metallica?

Metallica is nearly synonymous with “metal” and for good reason. This band soon became one of the heaviest hitters in the genre after they burst on the scene in the 1980s. 

Metallica is solidly planted in San Francisco, with its longtime members including James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich. Metallica was one of the most influential bands in the Bay Area metal scene. 

The band was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2009 after nearly four decades of contributions to the industry. 

Metallica’s music genres

Heavy Metal

The markers of this genre are fast tempos, loud instrumentals, and significant guitar solos. This is exactly what Metallica has produced for much of its career. 

The band’s third album, “Master of Puppets,” is probably its heaviest metal work. 

The heavy metal scene was also defined by its lack of attention to detail and emphasis on what music critic, Jon Pareles, called “brute force”.

Thrash Metal

While Metallica didn’t pioneer heavy metal, it certainly played a leading role in the creation of the subgenre of thrash metal. 

Metallica is considered one of the Big Four of thrash metal. The other three highly influential groups are Slayer, Megadeath, and Anthrax. 

Thrash metal is characterized by even more aggression and more intricate guitar riffs. 

“Ride the Lightning” is a great intro to the thrash metal genre. 

The album isn’t as fast-paced as its predecessor “Kill ‘Em All,” but it does keep with the thrash metal theme of a general heaviness that’s conveyed both instrumentally and lyrically. 

Speed Metal

Metallica is influenced by speed metal, another subgenre of metal. 

Speed metal is even faster than thrash, yet the vocals are comparatively less abrasive. 

This subgenre was largely born out of the new wave of British heavy metal from the 1970s. 

Metallica was influenced by speed metal, and this infusion of the subgenre can be heard most notably on “Kill ‘Em All,” which is an album full of some of its most pounding, intense tracks.


It’s not fair to say that Metallica is simply metal, because the band is much more than that. 

Since its inception, Metallica has experimented with a range of sounds that have both influenced and been influenced by all the various niches and subgenres of metal. 

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