Metallica was formed in 1981 in California by Lars Ulrich (drums) and James Hetfield (guitar/vocals). They recorded their first demo, No Life Til’ Leather, with Lloyd Grand (guitar), who was replaced in January 1982 by Dave Mustaine. At the end of 1982, Cliff Burton (bass) joined the band. Dave Mustaine departed to form Megadeth and was replaced by Kirk Hammett.
Metallica’s first album Kill ’em All in 1983 is a testament to the real beginnings of the sub genre of heavy metal music known as thrash. If you look back on the thrash scene that was going on then, there might have been a couple bands that were more definitive of thrash music such as DRI and Megadeth. However, the album everyone remembers most is Kill ’em All.
After the success of Kill ’em All, Metallica came back in 1984 with Ride the Lightning. I’ve always found this to be another great album with flat-out better production than the first album. It leans a bit more on traditional heavy metal instead of thrash. I personally prefer more thrash, but to each his own.
The next time Metallica came back with an album it was Master of Puppets in 1986 and is widely considered to be among the greatest metal albums ever released. After that they had …And Justice for All in 1988 which is one of their most polished albums ever technique-wise.
With the commercial success of their next album in 1991 (Metallica) also known as the Black album, Metallica started to get further and further away from their original metal sound. Their popularity has gradually declined since then. However their early work including their first 5 or 6 albums will be remembered as some of the greatest metal albums ever released.
Their albums include Kill ‘Em All, Ride the Lightning, Master of Puppets, Garage Days Re-Revisited [EP], …And Justice for All, Metallica, Load, Reload and St. Anger.