The Song Metallica Wrote to Out-Heavy Black Sabbath

James Hetfield Flickr Tony Iommi WikiMedia Commons
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Many great metal bands have borrowed from Black Sabbath.

Despite being half a century old, Tony Iommi’s riffs are still the peak of heaviness for metal fans.

While Metallica were already die-hard Sabbath fans, Kirk Hammett mentioned trying to beat Sabbath at their own game.

When recording Master of Puppets, Hammett mentioned “The Thing That Should Not Be” as their attempt to tune down like Sabbath saying (40:30),

“In 1986 hardly anyone tuned down. But we wanted to tune down because Sabbath did on songs like ‘Into the Void.’ Not only did we tune down, but we tuned down a half step more than usual. Everyone else and Sabbath would only tune down to D. We tuned down to C# thinking we’re that much more clever. We thought it’d be much more heavy. Did it turn out heavier? I don’t know, but it sounded pretty heavy to us.”

After the recording wrapped, Hammett singled out “Thing” as his favorite song on the record saying,

“For me, that’s one of the stand-out tracks. I think it’s a really unusual type of song at the time. There wasn’t many songs like that. In fact, most songs on Puppets didn’t sound like anything else at the time.”

While “Thing” was a departure for thrash, the brooding tempo of the track paved the way for groove metal a few years later.

The Sabbath worship came full circle once Metallica were asked to open for Ozzy Osbourne on his solo tour.

In retrospect, Osbourne almost thought the band was making fun of Sabbath with their songs saying,

“They were opening the show. I remember walking past the dressing room and they were playing Black Sabbath – I had no idea they were big fans, I thought they were taking the piss!”

Osbourne may have been the headliner, but Metallica were already set to take over the world.

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