Style and lyrical themes
Early Metallica releases included fast tempos, harmonized leads, and nine-minute instrumentals. Steve Huey of All Music Guide thought that Ride the Lightning featured "extended, progressive epics; tight, concise groove-rockers". Huey felt Metallica expanded its compositional technique and range of expression to take on a more aggressive approach in following releases, and lyrics dealt with more personal and socially conscious issues. Lyrical themes on Master of Puppets included religious and military leaders, rage, insanity, monsters and drugs. Huey described the composition of the song "Fade to Black" as "an acoustic-driven, minor-key ballad, then gets slashed open by electric guitars playing a wordless chorus, and ends in a wrenching guitar solo over a thrashy yet lyrical rhythm figure".
Metallica noticed changes to the rock scene created by grunge band Nirvana. In what has been described as "an almost alternative [rock]" approach, the band focused on non-metal influences, and changed musical direction. Moving away from lyrical themes dealing with drugs and monsters among others, Metallica's lyrics focused on anger, loss, and retribution. Some fans and critics were not pleased with this change, which included hair cuts, the cover of Load and headlining the alternative rock concert lollapalooza. David Fricke of Rolling Stone described the move as "goodbye to the moldy stricture and dead-end Puritanism of no-frills thrash" and called Load the heaviest record of 1996. With the release of Reload the band focused on blues, rock, and country influences as exemplified in the song "Unforgiven II", incorporating more rythm and harmony in song structures.
St. Anger marked the biggest musical change of the band's career. Bored of guitar solos, Ulrich chose to emit them from the album, leaving a "raw and unpolished sound" as said by New York Magazine reviewer Ethan Brown. Ulrich's snare drum received particular criticism. Brown noted it "reverberates with a thwong", while Brent DiCrescenzo of Popmatters felt Ulrich played a drumkit with "steel drums, aluminum toms, programmed double kicks, and a broken church bell. The kit's high-end clamor ignored the basic principles of drumming: timekeeping". Lyrics dealt with Hetfield's stint in rehab, including references to the devil and anti-drug themes.
- Rolling Stone biography 
- RS Master of Puppets 
- RS Load 
- AMG kill em all 
- AMG Ride the lightning 
- AMG master of puppets 
- Huey, Steve. "Ride the Lightning - Metallica". All Music Guide. Retrieved 2007-12-08.
- Huey, Steve. "Master of Puppets - Metallica". All Music Guide. Retrieved 2007-12-08.
- Fricke, David (1996-12-04). "Load review". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2007-12-07. Check date values in:
- Ali, Lorraine (1997-11-20). "Metallica - Reload". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2007-12-08. Check date values in:
- Cite error: The named reference
Metallica_St._Anger_Pitchwas invoked but never defined (see the help page).
- Sinclair, Tom (2003-06-09). "Music Review St. Anger". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2007-12-08. Check date values in: