Is Metallica prog?
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Thread: Is Metallica prog?

  1. #1


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    Is Metallica prog?

    Okay, title is a little click-baity but question is semi legitimate.

    I was having a talk with someone about what's the best Metallica album, where they fell apart, etc. We were talking about stuff they did 'different' over time and how far they got away from the sound of the first albums, etc. One of the things that came up were 'not so metal' tracks, ballads and not explicitly "drum-bass-guitar"-centric songs.

    So anyway, thinking of them as a thrash band primarily, I went through the catalog from the beginning to see when you start hearing any of the stuff mentioned above and really any 'not a thrash band' stuff, then realized they always had some weird shit on their albums.

    Kill 'Em All: There's six songs over 5 minutes long, and Four Horseman is over 7 minutes long (!). That song in particular definitely has some 'weird' parts and changes in them, including what I used to refer to as the 'Sweet Home Alabama' solo break. Also, Pulling Teeth could be considered a filler track but it's essentially a 4 minute long bass solo; idk, pretty proggy.

    Ride the Lightning: Fade to Black comes to mind as definitely NOT a thrash song and maybe even barely a metal song, which also has a bunch of sprawling 'anthem' type parts that aren't just typical 'intro-verse-bridge-chorus-verse-bridge-chorus-solo-chorus out'; it's also almost 7 minutes long. And then obviously Call of Ktulu -- it's a 9 minute long instrumental, more sprawling parts and a good bit of changes.

    Master of Puppets: The song Master of Puppets gets REALLY fucking weird after 'MASTER! MASTER! MASTER!' and the entire solo section comes out of nowhere; also the bridge has an odd syncopated feel to it that's more fills than it is beat. Orion doesn't need much of an explanation; 8 and 1/2 minute long instrumental song, more sprawling part-work that goes a lot of places. Intro to Damage, Inc. is more 'not a metal band' sounding, especially coming out of the instrumental track. Three songs on that album over 8 minutes long... pretty proggy.

    And Justice For All: The title track is 9 minutes long, and it has an especially long intro with lots of changes before the vocals even come in, including syncopated drum fills and classical guita; then the drum+guitar stuff that seemingly has no time signature at all before they start spamming the main riff. One, another long ballad but probably more metal elements than not. To Live Is To Die -- another instrumental track, tons of unrelated changes and the syncopation/swing gets REALLY heavy about 2 minutes in, then there's the Dream Theater-esque voice over. Four songs over 7 minutes long, two of which are almost 10 minutes long -- hm, seems like prog.

    Didn't bother going past that point, since I'd say most people would agree Metallica wasn't a thrash band by the Black Album and they weren't really a 'heavy metal' band by Load either.
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  4. #2


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    including what I used to refer to as the 'Sweet Home Alabama' solo break
    You're not wrong


    If we're defining it as progressive by song length, sure, I guess they'd fill that requirement; overall, I'd say those are progressive elements, but without knowing them in the context we know them now (them being one of the BIG FOUR, etc...), would we look at that if a new band did it and say "you can cut trim a lot of this fat down to a real concise song." I think they were showing how much you can get away with in a rock/metal song, and that it doesn't have to be the 'intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus, outro' but there wasn't any weird keyboard usage, or crazy out there time signature/changes that made me go "oh wow, this is much more than heavy metal"

  5. #3


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    Justice could definitely argued as a prog metal album. Maybe MoP.

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  7. #4


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    No, not even remotely. At most, there are some prog elements on And Justice for All, but even then, it's not a prog album. Just a thrash album that has a few elements of prog.

    I don't see any of the things you listed, though, as being what makes prog prog. For one thing, long songs do not equal "prog." Otherwise, that 19 minute R Kelly song "I Admit" that just came out would be "prog" simply by virtue of being really long.

  8. #5


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    Let's take into the consideration the changing definitions of "heavy metal" and for that matter, "metal."

    Terms and criteria change each month based upon the period flow of djent fanbois.
    All I can ask is that I suck a little less each time I pick up my guitar...

  9. #6


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    They qualify in my book as a prog band and not just because of MoP and Justice, but because they've progressed (or as some would say, regressed) as a band their entire career. Dream Theater is a band that writes progressive music, but does not progress, IMO....as where Metallica is a progressive band that sometimes writes progressive music and other times writes...."Ain't My Bitch".
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  10. #7


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    I don't know if it qualifies, but their sense of melody is the best of the Big Four.
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  11. #8


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    Nope. They don't have an awkward, lanky synth player who overplays on every song. Thus, not prog.

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