3 Reasons Metallica’s James Hetfield Needs To Make A Country Album

Metallica’s iconic lead vocalist, songwriter, and rhythm guitarist James Hetfield is without a doubt one of the most prominent thrash metal figures. His affair with music started with Leather Charm, a hard rock/metal band that he co-founded back in 1981. Although the band’s career was short-lived, it came to be known as a forerunner to Metallica.

James Hetfield co-founded Metallica with Lars Ulrich in 1981, and the band became one of the pioneers of thrash metal. As it can be seen, Papa Het has always been close to hard rock and metal but he has a guilty pleasure that he’s not too shy to show; his love for country music. In this article, we’ll analyze the metal star’s great potential as a country musician.

1. James Hetfield’s Life And Clothing Style Reflect His Inclination Towards Country

James Hetfield and his father Virgil

One thing that we know for sure is that James Hetfield likes the culture of country music. There are dozens of photos from Hetfield’s daily life in which he can be seen wearing cowboy hats and clothing. In fact, when we dug a little deeper, we found out that his style might have been inspired by his father as they certainly look alike. However, as Hetfield’s relationship with his late father was rather turbulent, it’s best to say that country runs in his blood.

Back in 1993, the Rolling Stone had described Hetfield as a ‘cattle-baron version of Erik the Viking, with his long, curly yellow mane, narrow blond beard rimming his jaw, big cowboy hat and brown leather coat with thick sheepskin collar’ and although it’s been almost two decades, Hetfield still enjoys dressing up similarly.

Aside from his everyday life, Papa Het has also brought his ‘cowboy style’ on stage while performing with Metallica. He’s been sporting his famous bullet belt since the ’80s and his fusion of country and metal style has been praised by many, which leads us to our next point; his country-take on hardcore metal tracks.

2. Metallica’s Acoustic Covers Have Undertones Of Country Music

As you may recall, back in 2016 there were some rumors that James Hetfield is considering quitting Metallica to start working on his solo country career. Although numerous fans supported this decision, others were heartbroken as they couldn’t imagine Metallica without its lead singer. Even though the news turned out to be false, it would be a good idea to analyze why these rumors surfaced, to begin with.

Firstly, as you know, Metallica released their fourth studio album Load in 1996 which was a turning point for the band as it proved that they have range. One of the tracks on that album was ‘Mama Saidwhich is an acoustic country ballad, not at all in line with Metallica’s usual sound. ‘Mama Said’ is currently considered to be one of the greatest examples of Hetfield’s songwriting, and probably the most known product of his affair with country music.

However, aside from creating country songs, Papa Het has also played with Metallica’s songs and enriched them with country sounds. One of the greatest examples of this is his 2004 performance of ‘Don’t You Think This Outlaw Bit’s Done Gone Out of Hand‘ at the Country Music Awards. He somehow managed to combine thrash and hardcore punk with country music and the outcome was unbelievable, which once again showed Hetfield’s love and talent for country music.

Finally, another example that we can’t just skip was the country rendition of ‘The Four Horsemen‘ from the band’s debut album Kill ‘Em All. As you know, the track is not in any way country but is considered to be a great example of Metallica’s progressive thrash metal sounds. Regardless, the makeover that Metallica performed on stage in 2018 was so professional that a first-time listener could’ve easily thought that Metallica is a country band. but their name would probably give them away.

3. James Hetfield’s Solo Acoustic Performances Increase Fans’ Expectations For A Country Album

As mentioned above, in 2016, Metallica fans were shocked to find out that James Hetfield might be leaving Metallica to pursue a career in country music. While some fans were completely against this, others said that it would be best if he could do both. Although the news proved to be fake, fans continued to discuss their thoughts on Hetfield’s talents as a country musician.

Under the YouTube videos of all of the three performances mentioned above, there are thousands of comments by his devoted fans encouraging him to make a country album. While some say it would be a crime for Hetfield not to make a solo album, others add that if he makes one, it should be a country album.

Here’s one of the most liked comments under ‘Don’t You Think This Outlaw Bit’s Done Gone Out Of Hand LIVE 2004’:

“If James Het doing a solo career, it would be country metal.”

Another fan said:

“James Hetfield not releasing a solo album would be a crime against humanity.”

And another fan added:

How to make Country music cool: Add James Hetfield.”

Aside from his talents as a musician who definitely has range, some fans also observed that Papa Het looks very happy when playing country music which is precisely the reason why they insist that he should pursue it.

You can check out all three tracks mentioned in the article below.