Metallica, one of the most iconic heavy metal bands in history, owes much of its success to the unparalleled musical style and songwriting prowess of its frontman, James Hetfield. From their early years, Hetfield‘s distinctive voice and guitar work propelled Metallica to the forefront of the genre. In this article, we will inform you about the bands that James Hetfield picked as his favorites and what he learned from his influences.
Hetfield‘s guitar playing, particularly in the realm of rhythm, has become legendary. His chugging power chords, precise palm-muted riffs, and syncopated rhythms formed the backbone of Metallica‘s sound. Hetfield’s guitar work provided the heavy, driving force behind their music, blending aggressive thrash metal elements with catchy, headbang-inducing grooves. His technical proficiency and impeccable sense of timing cemented his status as a master of rhythm guitar.
From the band’s early years, Hetfield‘s musical style embodied a relentless pursuit of sonic power. Metallica‘s sound was marked by thunderous, intricate guitar riffs, blistering solos, and complex song structures. Hetfield‘s guitar work blended technical precision with an instinctive knack for crafting heavy, catchy hooks. His powerful downpicking technique, known as the “Hetfieldian” style, added an extra layer of intensity to Metallica‘s music, becoming a defining characteristic of the band’s sound.
However, let’s see which bands James Hetfield named some of his favorites.
The 5 Bands James Hetfield Picked As Some Of His Favorites
Over the years, James Hetfield expressed his admiration for the bands that influenced him. As he has been making music since the early 1980s, he played alongside great artists and witnessed their influential music. So, it is time to learn the bands that have influenced James Hetfield over the years.
The iconic American rock band, Aerosmith, burst onto the scene in the early 1970s with a raw and blues-infused sound that would define their musical legacy. From their early years, Aerosmith captivated audiences with their electrifying performances and charismatic frontman, Steven Tyler.
At the forefront of Aerosmith‘s musical style was the inimitable Steven Tyler, with his distinctive voice and flamboyant stage presence. Tyler’s soulful vocals soared above the band’s heavy blues-rock sound, bringing a unique blend of power, range, and theatricality. His dynamic stage persona, fueled by his energetic performance and captivating charisma, became an integral part of Aerosmith’s appeal.
Moreover, Aerosmith’s early years left an indelible mark on the rock genre, establishing them as one of the pioneers of blues-infused hard rock. Their musical style would go on to inspire countless bands, bridging the gap between the blues of yesteryears and the hard rock of the future. James Hetfield was one of those who Aerosmith influenced.
During an interview with Rolling Stone magazine in 1993, James Hetfield admitted he wrote letters for one of his favorite bands Aerosmith, when he was in high school. According to him, he wanted the lyrics because he didn’t understand anything.
“I wrote letters to Aerosmith,” Hetfield says. “They were my all-time favorites back then. I wanted the lyrics. ‘Man, I can’t understand what the fuck he is singing. Can you please send me the lyrics?’ I sent it to Steven [Tyler], Joey [Perry], Tom [Hamilton]. I put all their names on the letter. Of course, I expected something back. I had no idea of the magnitude of it all.”
James Hetfield also named KISS one of his favorite bands of all time. KISS’s early years were defined by their hard rock sound, larger-than-life stage presence, and their pioneering blend of music and theatricality. Their anthemic hooks and unforgettable choruses resonated with audiences and cemented their status as rock icons. KISS’s enduring legacy lies in its music and ability to create a captivating live experience that transcends the boundaries of rock ‘n’ roll.
At the core of KISS’s musical style lies its foundation in hard rock. Their early albums, such as Kiss and Hotter Than Hell, delivered a raw and powerful sound characterized by heavy guitar riffs, thundering drums, and gritty vocals. KISS infused their music with a high-energy and rebellious spirit, capturing the essence of the rock ‘n’ roll ethos and establishing themselves as purveyors of pure, unadulterated rock music.
However, back in 2009, Metallica was inducted into the Rock Hall. At the time, KISS wasn’t a part of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Sharing his words on being inducted into the Rock Hall, Hetfield confirmed KISS influenced him and his band.
“It’s ironic that a band that has been inspired by all of these other ones are getting in there before them,” Hetfield comments. “We are going to go up there and kick some ass and kick the door down for some heavy bands that have not been recognized, like Rush and KISS.”
#3. Iron Maiden
Iron Maiden’s early years introduced the world to the dynamic guitar duo of Dave Murray and Adrian Smith. Their harmonized guitar solos and intricate interplay brought a melodic and melodic dimension to the band’s music. The combination of Murray’s fluidity and Smith’s technical prowess created a sonic landscape that was both heavy and melodically captivating.
With the addition of vocalist Bruce Dickinson, Iron Maiden’s musical style reached new heights. Dickinson’s soaring and operatic vocals added an anthemic quality to the band’s sound, giving their songs an epic and theatrical flair. His vocal range, power, and emotive delivery became a defining feature of Iron Maiden’s music, elevating their compositions to majestic heights.
Furthermore, Iron Maiden’s musical style was intricately tied to their ability to craft epic storytelling within their songs. From historical events to literature and mythology, Iron Maiden’s lyrics took listeners on immersive journeys, painting vivid imagery and evoking a sense of adventure. Tracks like The Trooper and Run to the Hills showcased the band’s storytelling prowess and their ability to captivate listeners with their narrative-driven approach.
In 2016, James Hetfield revealed an Iron Maiden album that inspired him, saying: “I bought this just because of this [shows the artwork]. Look at that. Why would you not buy this? Because that dude look really menacing and evil. So, I thought that I’d never even heard of them. So, I bought it and put it on. I’m glad I did because it’s a big inspiration for me in the early days.”
#2. Judas Priest
Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing created a formidable partnership, crafting harmonized guitar solos and intricate riffing that became the band’s signature. Their lightning-fast guitar work, blending melody and aggression, set the foundation for the band’s energetic and hard-hitting sound.
Moreover, Judas Priest’s musical style was not limited to just their sound but extended to their iconic image. The band’s adoption of leather and studs as their stage attire became synonymous with the heavy metal aesthetic. This visual representation of their music conveyed a sense of rebellion, power, and a connection to the underground metal culture, solidifying their place as pioneers of the genre.
James Hetfield described Judas Priest as heavy metal during his appearance on Billboard, saying: “Judas Priest is everything we wanted to be as a band starting out. If someone asked you to define what heavy metal is, that’s one of the bands you’d show them.”
Also, in 2019, Metallica performed a cover of Judas Priest’s Delivering the Goods during their rehearsals.
#1. Black Sabbath
James Hetfield named Black Sabbath his all-time favorite band. The band’s musical style had a profound impact on the development of heavy metal, influencing countless bands and shaping the genre’s future. Their fusion of dark and heavy riffs, menacing lyrics, and a captivating stage presence created a blueprint for bands to follow. Black Sabbath’s early years set the stage for the rise of heavy metal as a dominant force in the world of music.
Black Sabbath’s early years were characterized by their lyrical exploration of occult, supernatural, and societal themes. Vocalist Ozzy Osbourne’s distinctive voice, combined with his ability to convey emotions ranging from despair to madness, added an additional layer of darkness to the band’s music. Tracks like Black Sabbath and War Pigs showcased the band’s lyrical depth and their willingness to tackle provocative subjects.
Recalling the first time he heard Black Sabbath, Hetfield admitted Black Sabbath was his favorite band of all time.
“It had to be Black Sabbath,” Hetfield responded to the question that what was his favorite band. “My brother had all kinds of albums. And, you know, from Jethro Tull to The Beatles, to whatever all this other stuff.
And I put on Black Sabbath. The first album – put it on, and it was, like, ‘Wow. This is different and I like this.’ It’s got some balls, it’s got some heaviness, it’s got, you know, little bit of a scariness in there. But it’s next level.”
James Hetfield’s Favorite Bands:
- Iron Maiden
- Black Sabbath
- Judas Priest