Metallica is without a doubt one of the most influential and well-known metal bands of all time. In fact, they’re considered to be one of the ‘big four‘ bands who founded and improved thrash metal, along with Anthrax, Megadeth, and Slayer. However, as it turns out, the song that put Metallica on the map was inspired by a grunge band.
Metallica was founded back in 1982 by James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich, and it took them almost half a decade to make it in the metal scene but by the end of the ’80s, they had made a name for themselves. Metallica’s fame increased internationally after the release of ‘…And Justice for All‘ which was the band’s first album to enter the top 10 of the Billboard charts.
However, after that, the band found themselves unable to figure out how they could continue from there. During an interview with Uncut, Lars Ulrich had said that after ‘…And Justice For All’ and the subsequent two-year tour, the band members realized that they’d ‘hit the wall.’ Having created their most progressive music ever, they felt the need to press the reset button and start over.
Here’s what Lars Ulrich said in the interview:
“When we were done with ‘…And Justice For All’ and the subsequent two-year tour there was no place to go on that path. We‘d hit the wall. The last song on that album is a song called ‘Dyers Eve’ and it’s six or seven minutes of the craziest, most progressive off-the-wall stuff Metallica is capable of doing. After playing all those songs on the road for a couple of years we said, ‘There’s got to be a reset here.'”
While Metallica was trying to figure out where to go from there, there was something cooking in Seattle. Soundgarden and Nirvana had entered the music scene and they were combining punk and metal music to create a new sound they named ‘grunge.’ As they were looking for inspiration, Metallica members started listening to contemporary metal music, and Kirk Hammett came across Soundgarden.
During a radio interview, Kirk Hammett said that he was up late one night and he was listening to Soundgarden’s second album ‘Louder Than Love,’ from the time when they were still pretty much underground. Hammett said that he has always loved that album and that one of the main reasons why is that it inspired him to create one of his most famous riffs.
After listening to the songs on ‘Louder Than Love’ Kirk Hammett was inspired to pick up his guitar and create something new and different. He started playing a riff that would soon come to be known as the basis of ‘Enter Sandman,’ one of Metallica’s most well-known songs. It would also be the first song that the band wrote for their fifth and most famous album, ‘Metallica’ or the ‘The Black Album.’
This is what Kirk Hammett said in the radio interview:
“It was about two or three o’clock in the morning. I had just been listening to ‘Louder Than Love,’ the Soundgarden album. It was when Soundgarden was still somewhat underground and on an independent label. I just love that album; it’s a great Soundgarden album. And I heard that album, I was inspired, I picked up my guitar, and out came that riff.”