With an older brother and a metal head dad, I grew up listening to Metallica, whether I wanted to or not. Luckily, I understood the greatness of the band and learned an appreciation for the genre of thrash metal they more or less created.
When I started learning guitar, I instantly gravitated toward Metallica riffs, even more so than the solos. The riffs were almost solos in themselves, which is a testament to Hetfield’s musicianship as a writer and a player.
Hetfield is notorious for down-picking his riffs, which is an intrinsic element of his overall tone. The sheer aggression and violence he inflicts on his guitar is second to nobody in the guitar playing universe, and he executes these feats while singing with the same energy and control.
While there are countless riffs in Hetfield’s arsenal, I chose five I consider to be his best overall musical statements. You can agree or disagree, but one thing is for sure: James Hetfield is the greatest front man of all time.
Tyler Larson is the founder of the guitar-centric brand Music is Win. His insightful, uncomplicated guitar lessons and gear demonstrations along with entertaining, satirical content about life as a musician receive tens of millions of video views per month across social media. Tyler is also the creator of the extremely popular online guitar learning platform, Guitar Super System. A graduate of Berklee College of Music, Tyler has been teaching guitar for over a decade and operates a production studio in Nashville, TN.