Synopsis by Nathan Southern
When lead guitarist Kirk Hammett, the ill-fated bassist Cliff Burton, drummer Lars Ulrich, and rhythm guitarist James Hetfield established Metallica in 1981, it only took two years for the band to kick start its own popularity. The 1983 release of their LP Kill 'em All did the trick and then some, almost single-handedly redefining thrash metal by using speed and overamplification to support individual song structures; in the process, that effort alone contributed to a broad critical and commercial re-estimation of metal as a respected form of musical expression. Subsequently, each of the band's releases for a decade or so further developed thrash as a style, until the group's self-titled August 1991 breakthrough album (with its notorious black cover) broke through to the general public and sold seven million copies on the near side of the Atlantic. The group later experienced several setbacks (including a disappointing summer 1996 effort, Load, controversy surrounding their action against Napster habitués, and Hetfield's well-publicized struggle with substance abuse), but retained a rabid fanbase. Now, the documentary Music Box Biographical Collection: Metallica takes long-established and newly-indoctrinated fans inside of the group's astonishing history, with a vast array of archival photos, concert footage, and one-on-one interviews. It follows Metallica's crescendos and decrescendos, from the band's humble origins in underground clubs in the early eighties, through Burton's sudden death in a bus accident, the phenomenon of the 1991 record, and the more recent Napster debates.