Metallica's Ulrich: 'I'm Not Ever Sure We're Metal'

"We're one of the biggest rock bands," the drummer adds.

Ultimate Guitar

Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich has recently expressed uncertainty about the band belonging to the metal genre, placing 'Tallica into the rock category.

Discussing the Glasto controversy, he told Metro, "People say it's controversial because we're the first metal band to headline Glastonbury, but I'm not even sure we're 'metal.' Glastonbury's one of the biggest rock festivals in the world and we're one of the biggest rock bands."

In related news, frontman James Hetfield took a jab at rock icons KISS and Scorpions for their repeating farewell tours. Discussing the matter with Kerrang! magazine, James stated that he's definitely not a fan of the whole concept.

"I don't think that's fair to anyone. KISS' farewell tour for the 10th time? Scorpions were done and then they tour? You can't say that and then not do it," he pointed out (via Loudwire). "I don't know what's in store for us. I don't want to go on the history of how other bands have done it. We're unique in our own path and unique in how our path ends."

Metallica recently caught major media attention with Glastonbury 2014 show, both with quality performance and the surrounding controversy. Check out the full round-up here.

133 comments sorted by best / new / date

comments policy
    If Lars Ulrich circa 1981 could hear himself doubt if he was a "metal" musician some 30-odd years down the road, he'd be disappointed in himself!
    Exactly! I mean come on, this is the same guy that wanted their debut album to be title "Metal Up Your Ass." Now he's become a pretentious hipster douche.
    Normally I just laugh at everything Lars says these days but he's got a point here... The definition of "metal" has really changed over the past 30+ years. By today's standards, just about all of the music that Metallica recorded between about '95 and '07 would probably qualify as "hard rock". It's tough to put Load and record like Surgical Steel next to each other and claim that they're the same genre. Musical genres and sub-genres have gotten out-of-control over the past decade and most tend to be pointless. This division of musical styles to help record companies market their products has gotten so out of hand and taken on a life of it's own. I'd rather just use the "old" genre names like metal, rock, hip-hop, pop, jazz, etc. I don't need to worry about whether a band is playing "technical death metal" or "melodic grind-core dance music" or whatever. So I guess it's fair to call Metallica a metal band but with the diversity of Metallica's catalog and the modern definition of "metal" constantly changing I don't blame Lars for not being in love with the label anymore. Now make a decent record! Rock, metal, viking-pop... I don't care, just remind me why people love Metallica!
    I like the sub-genre titling personally. I even like when it gets out of hand because it's fun.
    People can hate me for my opinion but I'm a bit into "Melodic post-hardcore anthemic post-christian dub-arena pop-core rap-metal" Just a bit tho.
    well, when you ask not metal listeners what metal is, they most of the time think of death and black metal... so would that mean power metal or prog metal isn't metal either? even if it lies closer to the roots of the actual music, like Metallica? if I am honest, I'm not a big metallica fan, the albums I like most are Master of Puppets, Ride the Lightning and the black album, besides that I know some songs and that's it, but saying Metallica doesn't belong in the metal genre... instead putting them under hard rock... could you compare Metallica with AC/DC? (just to name one of the most iconic hard rock bands ever, who have been in that genre since 1973)
    Yeah, AC/DC and Metallica - that's a tough call. It totally depends on what school of thought you come from. Both bands could be considered "hard rock" or "heavy metal" depending on how you look at it. In 1985 it would be hard to argue with someone who called both Metallica and AC/DC "heavy metal" bands. They were both among the loudest, most aggressive bands making music anywhere near mainstream music's spotlight. Death metal was in it's infancy and the extreme metal that is everywhere today hadn't even been imagined yet. In 2014, most of AC/DC's catalog and a good portion of Metallica's music has more in common with straight up "rock" bands like the Rolling Stones than bands like Cattle Decapitation or Gorguts. Either way... If it's good it's good. Heavy metal has come a long way since the early 70's and there's amazing music all over the spectrum and lots more to come I'm sure.
    I appreciate your perspective on this. Most people today would never even think to consider that AC/DC were ever heavy metal, let alone that they were one of the heaviest popular acts around. The way I see it, though, what was metal will always be metal. Today's metal is much heavier (even if a lot of it seems like it's just heavy for the sake of being heavy), but that doesn't automatically remove older bands from underneath that umbrella. Think about it in terms of color: we've always had blue, but if a much bluer shade of blue was available all of a sudden, that wouldn't make the old blue not blue anymore.
    That's true but what do you think about when you hear "rap"? While most people who don't listen to rap think of the stereotypical "Fuck da police" type stuff people who do think of their favorite artist who may be much more politically inclined or whatever. Different subgenres in different genres and the people who don't listen to them often think of the stereotypes.
    That's true but what do you think about when you hear "rap"? While most people who don't listen to rap think of the stereotypical "Fuck da police" type stuff people who do think of their favorite artist who may be much more politically inclined or whatever. Different subgenres in different genres and the people who don't listen to them often think of the stereotypes.
    Who gives a **** about any of this? Everybody just shut the **** up and play music. "Peace, love, **** off".
    And?... People grow and change. Lars has clearly mellowed out. I don't see how that's a bad thing. I think we'd all be more disturbed if he was in his 50s and still screaming about "Metal Up Your Ass".
    Halford is still not afraid to shy from the "metal" title. You don't have to scream "metal up your ass!" in order to be metal. I'm not against the idea of growing and evolving but Lars can't deny that Metallica is a metal band. If Lars wants to evolve, he should practice his drumming (flame shield up).
    METALica... FFS... I'm probably one of their biggest fans and I know they are more than a metal band but... they are a metal band first and than hard rock (Black Album) and than rock (Load/Reload). Not the other way around!!!
    They're metal. Everyone else in a genre influenced by them and someone else. Example: Bro-Pop Metalist's "Five Finger Death Punch" take a page from prime-era Metallica, mix it with Nickelback and then take a dump in a blender and mix the catalogs.
    Meaning the man grew up and realized that there is more to music than just thrash.
    Floyd Phoenix
    This whole bloody genre thing has gotten way out of hand... This ****ing pigeonholing thing with all these genres just leads to way too many disputes and ridiculous arguments... Hell, I downloaded the Black Album off iTunes the other day and it came up as pop, and I don't even care anymore because genres are just dumb these days and people really need to get out of the stupid mentality of using them to insult bands and just talking about music in general...
    It's been said before and needs to be said again, its a tagging system for easily finding a certain or related sound.
    And like most systems, it needs replacement when it's out-of-date. IMO, this system's been out-of-date for a long time now, and replacement is overdue.
    How so? You can break down things pretty easily. Example,"x" band is Rock, then they're prog, which now can lead to many of things; Prog Jazzrock(King Crimson)Prog Bluesrock(Pink Floyd)Prog Poprock(Yes). But it can also go further and further. I'm always seeing new microgenres. I have yet to find a label/tag/genre that was only associated with a single band. I mean for ****s sake, Djent is a label just for a guitar tone.
    Floyd Phoenix Not as easy was people say it is... It would be better to just describe them by styles I think...
    That's what I'm referring to, i.e Doom, Stoner Doom, Drone Doom, Death Metal, Deathgrind, Blackened Death, ect ect.
    If I listen to, for instance, a band like the Gojira and then ask other metalheads for rec's of similar bands...well, it makes it easier due to the fact that we refer to Gojira as "Groove Metal". They can simply refer me to more Groove Metal bands. What if I ask for rec's of bands similar to Voivod? Well, then they just give me recs of Thrash bands, keeping in mind that I might want something on the progressive/technical side of Thrash. Why bother to describe the styles, btw? Every person will have a different description. If I say, "Black Metal", every Metalhead knows what I mean. I have to give a long description of Black Metal...well, some people will get what I mean and most won't.
    I know that was a hypothetical, but if you want music like Voivod, check out Disharmonization by Carbonized. It's like a grindy Nothingface.
    or Vektor who is very Voivod like, or Gorguts who were like Death Metal's Voivod, and by extension there are a million Gorguts wanna-bes like Ulcerate and Nero Di Marte.
    Eh, Vektor aren't all that like Voivod. At the most they bare some resemblance to Rrrrroar or Killing Technology, but only because those happen to be Voivod's thrashiest albums, with a heaping dose of punk influence. Voivod's riffing is way idiosyncratic, what with the weird chords and harmony. I'd say Vektor are more like Hellwitch or Mekong Delta. They don't have the same weirdness that Voivod does.
    And to be fair, labelling Metallica under "metal" isn't exactly pigeonholing!
    No it ****ing hasn't, all you have to do is listen to music and it's ****ing easy. All these people exaggerating metal genres who see Blackened Thrash and think it's a full on established main genre. There's like, 10 metal genres that mix and match, other than that the name is in the pudding usually (symphonic, Industrial, ambient etc). Also, who uses a "genre tag" to insult someone? The only reason anyone would be insulted is if they think a band is metal and then is told they aren't, which is more just them getting butt hurt. Not metal =/= not good, seeing as there's tons of awesome non-metal...
    Somehow you're right, but the problem boils down to calling one band something. 'Tallica is the perfect example. Their whole album history is full of experiments. Load+Reload sound way different and have different elements then StAnger or Kill 'em all. Same for Rammstein, they started very industrial and headed in a very melodic direction even some ballads. Is metallica metal ? I think it's a clear yes. Is nothing else matters a pop song ? Most likely. And music goes through transformation. Sabbath was the definition of metal back then, but considering how heavy some bands sound nowadays I cant blame kids for calling them rock, and would somehow even consider tagging them rock myself..
    So...we can give different genres to different songs. On the whole though, we can say things like, "Metallica's Black Album was just Heavy Metal (think old school Heavy Metal), whereas their album 'And Justice for All' is Thrash." Yeah, sure...there's a few songs that don't fit that over-arching tag. But that's ok. We just label those few songs as what they are. A metal band playing a ballad or a pop song or two (whereas the rest of the album is Metal) doesn't make the band "not metal".
    Call me old-fashioned, but I still think that no one has ever done songs as heavy as Sabbath. Then again, everyone has an understadably different point of view on what the word "heavy" means applied to a musical background. Which brings me to the point, as subjective as music is, labels shouldn't mean anything, there are many bands (Metallica being one) that have done so many different things throughout their careers that it's impossible to fit them in just one single label, it just can't be done!
    You can't label the essence of music, genre says nothing about quality, just a bit about style.
    Bit off topic, but I would actually appreciate some new Load/ReLoad album. I like this kind of rock music with fat, catchy riffs. I mean, sue me.
    Same here, it seems like a perfect fit for them now they are older, a song like Lords of Summer kinda lacks the energy it needs to recapture the old days and sounds a bit too much of Metallica plagiarizing Metallica while Ronnie Rising is some of the best stuff they have recorded in ages (imo), both in performance and composition, it's an excellent medley. I'd love to hear more in that vein, or some new ground, that might actually get my excitement for this band back.
    Both Load and ReLoad also had some of the most introspective lyrics Hetfield ever wrote. Definitely far from being my favorite Metallica albums, but there's a lot of great stuff there that people haven't looked up because it's much easier to see that most don't enjoy it and stick with that opinion.
    And those albums have some of their most complex arrangements. Perhaps not "technically" difficult, but containing many guitar parts that meld well together
    I think if the music that came out naturally for them was in line with that then I would be completely down with it. I'd much rather them make a solid rock record than force out another And Justice For All just for the sake of keeping people quiet.
    I still can't believe this is the band called METALlica that wanted their first album to be a a hand with a knife coming out a toilet called metal up your ass.