It's time to give the drummer his due—that's right, we're celebrating the work of the one and only Lars Ulrich.
Without Ulrich, Metallica would have never been created. Without him, Metallica would have never gotten their first song, "Hit the Lights," on Metal Blade Records' first compilation, Metal Massacre. While he may make headlines for helping to take down Napster or having a ridiculously expensive art collection, Ulrich's contributions to Metallica are what have made him a true metal legend.
It's that foundation of rhythm that serves as the backbone of Metallica's signature sound, and in Ulrich's honor, we give you our choices for the 10 Best Metallica Drum Tracks.
"Blackened"From: '...And Justice for All' (1988)
If you drum, you know how difficult the opening track to ...And Justice for All is. Ulrich masterfully makes his drums sound as if they're leading the charge rather than sitting back keeping the beat. "Blackened" is mosh-inducing and a big reason for that is because of Ulrich's signature drum sound.
"Motorbreath"From: 'Kill 'Em All' (1983)
From the very beginning, the single "Motorbreath" from Kill 'Em All is easily one of our favorite Ulrich moments. For five seconds, the spotlight is on the drummer and he lays the foundation for the rest of the song. Thrashy guitar riffs and killer vocals complement the dynamic rhythm that Ulrich creates for the entire song.
"Disposable Heroes"From: 'Master of Puppets' (1986)
On "Disposable Heroes" from 1986's Master of Puppets, Ulrich matches the intensity of the guitar riffs and James Hetfield's vocals with his own pummeling drums. If you crank this song up and don't find the desire to immediately begin air drumming, you may want to check your pulse.
"Of Wolf and Man"From: 'Metallica' (1991)
Starting with beefy guitars, it doesn't take long for Ulrich to produce a pounding cadence that forces you to put your fist in the air and pump it with the beat. That beat carries on throughout the entire song. There's nothing fancy with this song, but it's a perfect example of Ulrich's ferocity behind the drum kit.
"My Apocalypse"From: 'Death Magnetic' (2008)
With the closing, and shortest, track on Metallica's Death Magnetic, the band unearths their thrash roots and let loose with a non-stop, in-your-face rock song. Intense lyrics, fast guitars and pure anger make this a worthy song for any fan of metal. Throw in Ulrich's brutal and quick drum beats and you've got one of his best drum tunes in the last 30 years. If you've ever seen him perform this song live you know how much energy it takes, and he always exceeds expectations.
"My World"From: 'St. Anger' (2003)
There's no question that Ulrich is the center of attention on the band's highly controversial album, St. Anger. For the first 40 seconds of "My World," it's easy to forget every other member of the band and focus only on the drummer's vicious sound. The snare drum fills every crevice and Ulrich makes his case for why St. Anger deserves a second—or third or fourth—listening.
"Dyer's Eve"From: '...And Justice for All' (1988)
Perhaps the supreme example of Ulrich's pure and extraordinary intensity comes from the closing track to 1988's ...And Justice for All. He doesn't hold anything back, from the very beginning to throughout the verses to the end of the song. Ulrich delivers over five minutes of non-stop, pure madness.
"Fight Fire With Fire"From: 'Ride the Lightning' (1984)
Beginning with a beautiful acoustic opening, nobody knew what was in store for them the first time they heard "Fight Fire With Fire." At about the 40 second mark, Hetfield and company blast into a severely harsh, near-perfect thrash tune. Ulrich's ability to not only lay a foundation but keep it for the entire song is absolutely magical. By the end of this tune, you feel like you got the wind knocked out of you.
"Battery"From: 'Master of Puppets' (1986)
Similar to "Fight Fire with Fire," "Battery" doesn't quite show all of its cards until about 40 seconds into it. As the guitars rip into crushing riffs, Ulrich makes sure things stay as intense as possible with the drums. At 1:16, he tears into his thrash rhythm and doesn't soon slow down.
"One"From: '...And Justice for all' (1988)
There can be no discussion of Ulrich and his drum sound without mention of the epic and beautifully dynamic "One." Even with the semi-mild choruses, Ulrich keeps things heavy with tastes of the double bass. Those small bursts turn into full-on explosions near the 4:20 mark as he begins one of the most legendary drum sections of all time. Not only is this song indicative of Ulrich's powerful drum style, but it also proves why he is one of the best rock drummers around today.