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With 1988’s …And Justice for All, Metallica pushed their prog tendencies—wildly intricate compositions, sweeping sociopolitical themes, extended instrumental passages—to the fore. The result is a one-of-a-kind thrash tour de force that turns its back on the genre’s loud-fast-short ethos. The serpentine title track falls just shy of the 10-minute mark. Then there’s the mighty “One,” an antiwar anthem whose complexity would make Yes blush. Pay special attention to Kirk Hammett: His insanely precise fretwork is the high point on numerous cuts.
Formed: 1981 in Los Angeles, CA
Years Active: ’80s, ’90s, ’00s, ’10s
Metallica were easily the best, most influential heavy metal band of the ’80s and ’90s. Responsible for bringing the genre back to earth, the bandmates looked and talked like they were from the street, shunning the usual rock star games of metal musicians during the mid-’80s pop-metal renaissance. Metallica also expanded the limits of thrash, using speed and volume not for their own sake, but to enhance their intricately structured compositions. The release of 1983’s Kill ‘Em All marked the beginning…