Happy Birthday, Papa Het!


Riff Life.

Those are the words tattooed on James Hetfield’s fingers–and for good reason. Hetfield is the undisputed king of the riff. No matter the era, Metallica songs always featured killer riffs that oozed with Hetfield’s signature down-picked style. Today, he turns 54. As a tribute to my music idol, I’m listing my five favourite Metallica songs.

P.S. These aren’t in any order!


This song blew my mind. So. Heavy. Thirteen-year-old me couldn’t handle it at first. I actually thought it was too heavy. Then I stopped being a loser. Blackened is ferocious, and the riff is a real hand-burner to play! While this is a Hetfield-focused list, I must add that Kirk Hammett’s solo is arguably the best he’s ever written.

The Four Horsemen

This song encompasses everything that makes Metallica and James Hetfield awesome. The main gallop riff, the howling vocals, the awesome melodic passages… I could go on and on gushing about this Kill ‘Em All track. It’s just that good.

Moth Into Flame

Yes, I mean it. Moth Into Flame is awesome. On a technical level, does it stand against the master class that is Metallica’s eighties heyday? No, but it’s a great song nonetheless that blends the post ‘Black’ album chugging with thrash riffs in the chorus. I love the message the song sends about the isolation created by fame–that’s a testament to James Hetfield’s talents as a songwriter. Oh, and “BURN!”

Master Of Puppets

The quintessential Metallica track from a purist standpoint, MOP is a thrash classic. The intro riff is recognizable from the first power chord, and the spider riff is still one that great guitarists struggle to play properly. It’s all down-picked, folks. James Hetfield put on a clinic throughout the album, but none of the songs top MOP, which also features some more clever lyrics. Is the song about slavery? War? Cocaine? Up to you!

Sad But True

“Metallica gives you heavy!” James Hetfield yells that before the band kicks into ‘Sad But True’ live, and I’ve got to say, Metallica with D-standard tuned guitars is awesome. On ‘Sad But True’ they sound beefier than ever. The main riff was once quoted by Bob Rock as music fit for pulling teeth. ‘Nuff said!

Happy birthday James Hetfield!


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