Metallica are dropping their tenth studio album, Hardwired… to Self-Destruct, today! As you might have noticed, the band went above and beyond and made music videos for every song on the album. To celebrate this rad idea we here at Metal Injection have sorted through the band’s long videography and picked a few diamonds in the rough to share with you all today. To think, the band that was once so reluctant to embrace the music video game in the 1980’s has gone on to make some of the very best. Reminder, this list is about the videos, not necessarily the song/single. “Enter Sandman” is still one of the biggest song’s on rock radio to this very day…but the video will give you a seizure and didn’t make the cut. So, with that said, take a stroll with us down Metallica’s rich music video past and be sure to enjoy the links to some of each director’s other selected works provided below.
Remember: video > song.
“One” 1988 – Michael Salomon
The one that started it all [eh eh?]. Metallica’s first foray into the music video world remains the band’s most iconic work. The four horsemen, jamming out in a giant warehouse, spliced together with footage from the 1971 film, Johnny Got His Gun, illustrating the cold, nightmarish reality of war….and looking cool as hell in the process. Tight shots of each member’s individual performances have created iconic images of the band that still resonate nearly thirty years later. Kirk’s tapping, Jason’s impassioned face singing backups, Lars’ feet during the machine gun double bass section [and his sweet ass …And Justice For All shirt] and least we forget, the mighty James Hetfield power stance and inhuman picking hand. “One” raised the bar for metal videos back in the day and still holds up as an amazing viewing experience.
“Sad But True” 1992 – Wayne Isham
“Enter Sandman” might be the band’s biggest hit, and its accompanying nightmare fuel/seizure inducing music video helped launch the band to super stardom, but nothing else captures the mania of the band’s Wherever I May Roam tour like the performance video for “Sad But True.” Taking highlights from the band’s gargantuan Live Shit: Binge & Purge boxset/home video, the video is a testament to both Metallica, and their legions of fans during the paranormal phenomenon that was the Black Album. Relieve the magic, the moshing [in the concession stands] and of course, the long and luscious hair.
“The Memory Remains” 1997 – Paul Andresen
Ah, the mid-90’s; aka the Load years. Say what you will about the band’s post Black Album output, there’s no denying Metallica cranked out some awesome rock jams during the Clinton years. Unfortunately, not all of their music videos from this period have uh, stood the test of time. Clips like “King Nothing” and “Mama Said” seem stuck in 90’s purgatory forever. “The Memory Remains” however, is a haunting/surreal performance clip that’s become one of Metallica’s most memorable music videos of all time. The band performs on a spinning platform as the room and world around them goes by. The Marianne Faithfull cameo onscreen makes her creepy guest vocal that much more, creepy…and who doesn’t love watching Jason Newsted headbang in front of a wide ass fisheye lens? Gotta love the 90’s!
“Whiskey In The Jar” / “Turn The Page” 1998 – Jonas Akerlund
Good music videos are generally hypnotic promotional tools. They make you like a certain band or song through rad imagery without you realizing you’ve been hustled. Then, there are videos that transcend the genre’s product placement origins and stand as legitimate art/cinema. Jonas Akerlund’s series of videos from Metallica’s Garage Inc. covers album do just that. “Whiskey In The Jar” depicts a wild lesbian house party that Metallica just so happens to be playing. “Turn The Page” is the tragic tale of a single mom who turns to sex work to make ends meet; Metallica just so happens to curate her story with their performance. The fly on the wall documentary style of these videos make them feel like actual movies with rad Metallica cameos when it’s usually the other way around. Be sure to check out Akerlund’s NSFW Turn The Page short film HERE. It’s brutal but amazing.
“I Disappear” 2000 – Wayne Isham
This is it. The height of music videodom. After this there was nowhere to go but downhill. Metallica is literally rocking out on a mountain with Tom Cruise [not really]. This video has it all, cool performances [Jaymz screaming “IM GONE”], insane production values and sweet commercial tie-ins to everyone’s least favorite installment of the Mission Impossible film franchise. So yeah, during this odd period of Metallica’s history, the band managed to bless us with one of the most gargantuan music videos of all time. Hell the CGI still looks good! There’s car chases, planes flying, buildings exploding, Lars running in slowmo…I know Metallica was the biggest band in the universe but the sheer spectacle of the “I Disappear” video seems extra mindboggling given the dire health of today’s music/film industry. Thanks internet, this is why we can’t have nice things/million dollar budgets on music videos anymore.
“St. Anger” 2003 – The Malloys
Ok. The snare. We know. Moving on, “St. Anger” represents Metallica’s first steps back into the ‘metal’ realm after spending most of the 90’s as the biggest crossover rock band in the cosmos. The stylized, high concept videos like “Hero of the Day” [which was super close to making this list] morphed into the gritty street level, we’re playing in a real prison aesthetic of “St. Anger.” The cool mini-movie footage showing the cause and effect of inmates’ crimes on the outside is still kind of high-brow, and let’s face it, only a juggernaut of a band like Metallica could even pull this off in the first place, but it’s still cool to see the horsemen rocking out with gusto again. This might have been the first documented case of Lars’ double bass drumming in years and also marked the first music video appearance of Robert Trujillo.
“Moth Into Flame” 2016 – Tom Kirk
Which brings us to the present: 2016. Metallica just unleashed a bevy of rad new music videos for ya'll to binge & purge on. It's still too early to process which ones rule more than others so we've gone with "Moth Into Flame" because Kirk headbangs like a man possessed and the cool lighting setup seems destined to last as another iconic Metallica image ingrained in our collective memory.
What are some of your favorite Metallica music videos? Anyone else ever notice that the riff in P.O.D.'s early 2000's hit "Alive" sounds eerily like Metallica's "The Unforgiven II?" Anyone else wish Metallica made an actual live action video for "All Nightmare Long?" How cool would "No Leaf Clover" had been if they had GoPros back then? Let us know what you think in the comments below!