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Kerry King: "There was so much grief over The Black Album when it came out"

Big Four
(Image credit: Future)

With Metal Hammer's new issue being an enormous celebration of Metallica to commemorate their upcoming 40th anniversary, who better to speak to about the band's early days than fellow Big Four alumni Kerry King

Founded the same year as Metallica, Slayer were the extreme metal ying to Metallica's chart-storming yang, both bands helping turn thrash metal into a globe-spanning phenomenon. King had plenty to say about Metallica's world-conquering ascent. Talking about the early days of thrash, he recalled the resentment felt against Los Angeles status as the self-styled capital of 80s hair metal

"I obviously can’t speak for Metallica, but they probably avoided Hollywood as much as we did, because that was glam central," he told Hammer journalist Joe Daly. "Orange County, where I’d seen them play, that’s where a ton of heavier bands and punkier bands came from."

Kerry King

(Image credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images))

As for The Black Album, which polarised thrash fans at the time (whilst cementing their status as the biggest metal band on the planet), King said, "I may not have been super-stoked on it, but I never hated it the way a lot of people did. To this day, I like that record a lot. I think it’s Metallica but I don’t think it’s thrash Metallica."

"There was so much grief over that when it came out. And to be honest with you, everything that came out after that for a long time, that’s what I have a problem with. But The Black Album? It’s still heavy. It’s got some fast stuff on it."

The new Metal Hammer features 40 brand new interviews conducted with the group’s trusted inner circle: childhood friends, rock star heroes, ex-bandmates, the producers who helped shape their sound, the music industry players who set them on the path to glory and musician peers from thrash metal’s ‘Big Four’ who watched on in wonderment as James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich willed their scrappy Los Angeles garage band to become the biggest metal act in the world. 

To read the full in-depth interview with Kerry King, pick up the special, star-studded ‘Metallica 40’ issue of Metal Hammer, out now.

Rich Hobson

Writer for Metal Hammer, Classic Rock and Louder, Rich has never met a feature he didn't fancy, which is just as well when it comes to covering everything rock, punk and metal for both print and online. Passionate about seeing the spread of metal on a global scale, Rich has spent the last decade seeking out emerging acts from around the world, covering everyone from Alien Weaponry and The Hu to Kaoteon, Nine Treasures and Jinjer, whilst also re-examining rock and metal history with bands like Faith No More, Sepultura and Ozzy Osbourne, alongside legendary events like Rock in Rio and the 1991 Clash Of The Titans tour.