The Metallica Track James Hetfield Described As A ‘Suicide Song’

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There are at least one or two songs in each of Metallica records fans pick as their favorites. Thanks to the band’s flourishing music catalog, their audience doesn’t have a hard time finding a piece that pleases their ears in every Metallica album. However, the only aspect of their music isn’t about picking favorites; their songs are almost always personal with their lyrics.

The band members reflect their challenges and life experiences in their lyrics, and sometimes it doesn’t always sit well with everybody since Metallica doesn’t hold it back regarding being genuine. Therefore, their all-time classic ‘Fade to Black’ gained recognition from their fans, but its lyrics had a darker story, revealed by James Hetfield once.

‘Fade To Black’ Is Metallica’s First Power Ballad

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The list of Metallica hits is quite long and arguable since the band released too many great songs. However, all the fans would agree that the group’s first power ballad, ‘Fade to Black,’ always has a spot in these types of lists. Metallica released the song as the first promotional single from its second studio album, ‘Ride the Lightning.’

After its release, the song gained recognition for its remarkable guitar solo, gaining a spot on Guitar World’s best guitar solo list in 24th place. Apart from accolades, Metallica has been playing ‘Fade to Black’ during their live performances since it’s one of the tracks fans love to see being played by the band.

James Hetfield Revealed The Song’s Importance

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Apart from being a hit, the song has a divisive aspect regarding its lyrics. Some praised its touching and honest approach to dark themes, while some believed it encouraged young people’s tendency to suicide. In a 1991 interview with Guitar World, Metallica frontman James Hetfield reflected on both cases, clearing the air about the lyrics’ purpose and how people should’ve responded to them.

Initially, Papa Het said they knew the lyrics of ‘Fade to Black’ would receive mixed reactions from people. He then said he was going through a dark time while writing the song since his personal life wasn’t going well. Therefore, ‘Fade to Black’ is a suicide song, but its lyrics’ intention isn’t to encourage people to commit suicide; it’s about talking about such thoughts openly to show people aren’t alone.

James Hetfield commented on the song:

“That song was a big step for us. It was pretty much our first ballad, so we knew it would freak people out. Recording that song, I learned how frustrating acoustic guitar could be. You could hear every squeak, so I had to be careful.

I wrote the song at a friend’s house in New Jersey. I was pretty depressed at the time because our gear had just been stolen, and we had been thrown out of our manager’s house for breaking shit and drinking his liquor cabinet dry.

It’s a suicide song, and we got a lot of flak for it as if kids were killing themselves because of the song. But we also got hundreds of letters from kids telling us how they related to the song and that it made them feel better.”

Every now and then, critics blame bands for causing young people to various matters allegedly related to rock music, such as satanism, suicide, and ritual sacrifices. However, almost none of these musicians intend to encourage their audience to harm themselves. Instead, they share their stories to make their young fans feel accepted, which is proved by the letters telling the story of how ‘Fade to Black’ saved their lives in Metallica’s case.

You can listen to ‘Fade to Black’ below.