Kerry King Addresses The Biggest Factor In Metallica’s Success

Kerry King recently had a conversation with Metal Hammer about their music and success. He credited Dave Mustaine for his contributions to Metallica’s sound and revealed that what Metallica represented through their music brought the band international success.

Along with Megadeth, Slayer, and Anthrax, Metallica is considered one of the big four of the thrash metal genre. Metallica’s success and worldwide recognition surpassed the other three bands, and they became one of the most popular metal bands of all time. Their music slightly changed with the 1991 ‘Black Album’ or ‘Metallica’ as they adopted a heavier and more refined sound while leaving thrash a little bit behind.

This album brought new fans and success to the band. While the other thrash metal bands still embraced darker elements in their music, sticking to their genre, Metallica was on a new road and reached a wider audience with their new sound, which didn’t please all their old fans. Thrash metal might not be everybody’s cup of tea, but even those who didn’t like thrash liked Metallica.

Slayer’s Kerry King said that Metallica’s music was more ‘everyman’s music’ compared to the other bands of the genre. With this, he meant that people could listen to them and enjoy their music without being committed to the dark metal scene. He then stated that he thinks people have asked themselves, ‘Is it okay to like Slayer?’ for ages because it wasn’t everyone’s taste and they had a specific crowd.

Here are King’s words:

“They were probably the best with melody, be it vocal or guitar harmonies. Sure, we had guitar harmonies, but they were still on the darker side, whereas with Metallica, it was more – I don’t want to cheapen it by saying this – but it’s more everyman’s music.

Like I said, I don’t mean that in a cheap way; it’s easier to get into for people than Slayer’s darker tones and darker lyrical vision. Metallica wrote stuff that anybody could like without going, ‘Why am I liking this?’ or, ‘Is it okay to like this?’ Whereas people have probably asked themselves about us for decades, ‘Is it okay to like Slayer?’ Haha!”

King also considers the band’s ‘The Black Album’ as catchy, unlike their thrash albums that came before that. Although he initially felt resentment towards the band for switching sounds, he couldn’t deny the record’s success and its influence on the world. When it was released in 1991, the album quickly debuted No. 1 in ten countries. It also sold 16 million in the US and broke a record since the foundation of the Nielsen SoundScan era.