Metallica is an American heavy metal band based in San Rafael, California. The band was formed in 1981 in Los Angeles when vocalist/guitarist James Hetfield responded to an advertisement posted by drummer Lars Ulrich in a local newspaper. Metallica's current lineup comprises founding members Hetfield and Ulrich, longtime lead guitarist Kirk Hammett, and bassist Robert Trujillo. Guitarist Dave Mustaine (who went on to form Megadeth) and bassists Ron McGovney, Cliff Burton, and Jason Newsted are also former members of the band.
The band's fast tempos, instrumentals, and aggressive musicianship placed them as one of the founding "big four" bands of thrash metal, alongside Megadeth, Anthrax, and Slayer. Metallica earned a growing fan base in the underground music community and won critical acclaim with its first four albums; their third album Master of Puppets (1986) was described as one of the most influential and heaviest of thrash metal albums. The band expanded its musical direction and achieved substantial commercial success with its eponymous fifth album Metallica (1991), which appealed to a more mainstream audience. The album was also their first to debut at number one on the Billboard 200, a success that they also achieved on their following five studio albums. In 2000, Metallica joined with other artists who filed a lawsuit against Napster for sharing the band's copyright-protected material without consent. A settlement was reached and Napster became a pay-to-use service. The release of St. Anger (2003) alienated fans with the exclusion of guitar solos and the "steel-sounding" snare drum, and a film titled Some Kind of Monster documented the recording of St. Anger and the tensions within the band during that time. The band returned to its original musical style with the release of Death Magnetic (2008), and in 2009, Metallica was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. After touring for most of the next eight years, the band followed up with the double album Hardwired... to Self-Destruct (2016), which demonstrated examples from some of the different musical styles that the band has dabbled in throughout its career. To promote the album, the band released music videos for all 13 new songs on the deluxe edition of the album; prior to the album's release, the band had only released 26 music videos in their career.
Metallica has released ten studio albums, four live albums, five extended plays, 39 music videos, and 37 singles. The band has won eight Grammy Awards and six of its albums have consecutively debuted at number one on the Billboard 200. The band's eponymous 1991 album has sold over 16 million copies in the United States, making it the best-selling album of the SoundScan era. Metallica ranks as one of the most commercially successful bands of all time, having sold over 115 million records worldwide. Metallica has been listed as one of the greatest artists of all time by many magazines, including Rolling Stone, which ranked them 61st on its list of The 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. As of 2017, Metallica is the third-best-selling music artist since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking sales in 1991, selling a total of 58 million albums in the US. Metallica collaborated over a long period with producer Bob Rock, who produced four of the band's studio albums between 1990 and 2003 and served as a temporary bassist during the production of St. Anger. In 2012, Metallica formed the independent record label Blackened Recordings and took full ownership of its albums and videos. The band is currently touring to promote Hardwired... to Self-Destruct, which was released on November 18, 2016.