Recently a writer from The Quietus, Mark Eglinton, asked for my thoughts on Metallica’s James Hetfield. While it’s no secret that the fans, myself included, haven’t always agreed with every decision Metallica has made as a band, I’ve chosen to look at a subject which seems to have gotten lost in the chaos of Metallica’s superstardom: James, the musician.
James Hetfield is a an unsung virtuoso. His guitar and vocal sound, along with his song ideas, has enabled Metallica to go from being classified alongside Motorhead and Venom to being aligned with Bruce Springsteen and U2. Much of hard music today has been changed by his guitar tone, rhythm playing and vocal technique, making him arguably the most influential musician of his generation.
James has had more of an influence than most ‘lead’ guitarists and is a great lead guitarist himself. His occasional solos are among Metallica’s most memorable, proving that speed and chops are secondary to melody.
He also a terrific acoustic guitarist, playing intricate parts with a lot of depth, consistency and dynamics.