Metallica is an American heavy metal band formed in 1981 in Los Angeles by vocalist/guitarist James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich and has been based in San Francisco for most of its career. The band’s fast tempos, instrumentals and aggressive musicianship made them one of the founding “big four” bands of thrash metal, alongside Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer. Metallica’s current lineup comprises founding members and primary songwriters Hetfield and Ulrich, longtime lead guitarist Kirk Hammett and bassist Robert Trujillo.
Metallica first found commercial success with the release of its third album, Master of Puppets (1986), which is cited as one of the heaviest metal albums and the band’s best work. The band’s next album, …And Justice for All (1988), gave Metallica its first Grammy Award nomination. Its self-titled fifth album, Metallica (1991), was the band’s first not to root predominantly in thrash metal; it appealed to a more mainstream audience, achieving substantial commercial success and selling over 16 million copies in the United States to date, making it the best-selling album of the SoundScan era. After experimenting with different genres and directions in subsequent releases, Metallica returned to its thrash metal roots with the release of its ninth album, Death Magnetic (2008), which drew similar praise to that of the band’s earlier albums. This was followed by the band’s 10th studio album, Hardwired… to Self-Destruct (2016), with its 11th album, 72 Seasons, set for release in 2023.
Metallica has released 10 studio albums, four live albums (including two performances with the San Francisco Symphony), 12 video albums, a cover album, two extended plays, 37 singles and 39 music videos. The band has won nine Grammy Awards from 23 nominations, and its last six studio albums (beginning with Metallica) have consecutively debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. Metallica ranks as one of the most commercially successful bands of all time, having sold over 125 million albums worldwide as of 2018.