When Metallica was formed by the guitarist/singer James Hetfield and the drummer Lars Ulrich in 1981, they certainly had a unique sound that was inspired by Heavy Metal and Punk, combining heaviness and speed that would later be called Thrash Metal. Over the decades they became even bigger selling an estimated amount of more than 125 million records worldwide.
Hetfield always had a broad musical taste but obviously loves Heavy Metal music more than anything. So he had the opportunity to see the evolution of the music genre up-close during the past four decades and there was a band that impressed him so much that he even called them “great” and “unique”.
The band that James Hetfield called great and unique
Before they became one of the most successful Metal bands of all time, Metallica toured a lot as the opening act from other famous artists. That was crucial to help them reach a new audience. Knowing how important that is for a new group, they always invited interesting bands to be with them on the road. It was one of those groups that impressed Hetfield. But he became a huge fan of that band years before Metallica took them on the road.
It’s the Swedish band Ghost, led by Tobias Forge which was formed in Linköping, Sweden in 2006. Hetfield liked them already after hearing their debut album “Opus Eponymous” released in 2010. He used a shirt of that record during an interview with SVT in 2011 when the Big Four (Metallica, Anthrax, Megadeth, Slayer) were touring together.
“I’m in their fan club. [Laughs] I had no idea what they looked like until I saw the video. I heard the music first and I thought it was very great very unique, very melodic and a breath of fresh air for metal. It reminded me a bit of ’70s kind of rock that I liked as well. So yeah, I love the band,” James Hetfield.
In 2012, they played for the first time in San Francisco, California. Hetfield went to see them at a small venue that held only 350 people. In an interview with Music Radar in 2015, a “Nameless Ghoul” (That’s how the other members of Ghost are called), recalled that moment.
“James came to see us at our first San Francisco show in this tiny venue, which was more like a coffee shop. We were stood backstage in our underwear. It probably wasn’t the best way to meet your idol for the first time.”
“Then he came by after the show. Of course, we were in our underwear again. Come to think of it, I’ve met James many times in my underwear. It’s crazy. The guy is like royalty to us,” the Nameless Ghoul said.
In that same year Ghost was invited to be part of the line-up of the first edition of Metallica’s own festival Orion Music+. Hetfield himself introduced Ghost on stage saying to the crowd that they were one of his “new favorite bands”.
Hetfield’s love for Ghost only got bigger over the years and they were invited to tour with Metallica as their opening act in 2019, playing with them across Europe. They had also opened for several other famous groups like Iron Maiden over years. But nowadays they already are big enough to make more solo tours.
Hetfield once covered a Ghost song during rehearsal
Metallica always shared with the fans part of their rehearsals. During one in 2018 the guitarist and singer James Hetfield played Ghost’s “Cirice” from the 2015 album “Meliora”. Talking with 93x radio in 2023, the band’s leader Tobias Forge talked about seeing one of his heroes performing his song.
“Awesome. Of course. I guess that’s the ultimate sort of circle. Hetfield, everything he’s done, basically… He was a very early influence for me and keeps on being one. And going from a childhood hero to now a mentor and friend and colleague, if you will. Then having that sort of… receive back in the form of that flattery is amazing, of course. That humbles you,” Tobias Forge said.
As the Swedish musician said, they are good friends and Metallica also invited them to the “Black Album” tribute record. That album was made to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Metallica’s self-titled debut record, also known as “The Black Album” in 2021.
The band invited many different artists to cover tracks from that record. The tribute was called “The Metallica Blacklist” and Ghost covered the famous track “Enter Sandman”.
I'm a Brazilian journalist who always loved Classic Rock and Heavy Metal music. That passion inspired me to create Rock and Roll Garage over 6 years ago. Music has always been a part of my life, helping me through tough times and being a support to celebrate the good ones. When I became a journalist, I knew I wanted to write about my passions. After graduating in journalism from the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, I pursued a postgraduate degree in digital communication at the same institution. The studies and experience in the field helped me improve the website and always bring the best of classic rock to the world! MTB: 0021377/MG