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(Credit: Alamy)


Watch Metallica rip through a performance of ‘One’ in 1989


Metallica was already a stadium rock band by 1989. Although the death of bassist Cliff Burton three years earlier threatened to derail them completely, the three remaining members gathered themselves together, recruited new bassist Jason Newsted, and forged ahead with a defiantly heavy and surprisingly catchy new album, the 1988 effort …And Justice for All.

While the band had risen to headline status on their previous ‘Damage, Inc.’ tour, the ‘Damaged Justice’ tour truly elevated Metallica into the realm of becoming one of America’s biggest bands. Global takeover was just around the corner, and anyone who saw the ferocity with which Metallica attacked their back catalogue live knew that it wouldn’t take long for the heavy metal titans to truly cross over.

While their 1991 self-titled album contained most of the hits that catapulted them to the stratosphere, …And Justice for All had its own crossover track that appealed to the masses: ‘One’, the darkly sinister anti-war track that featured some of the band’s all-time best riffing. Despite its haunting subject matter and lengthy seven-minute arrangement, the pull of ‘One’ was undeniable, especially when it was played live.

‘One’ would quickly become Metallica’s first top 40 hit in America, with new scores of fans coming to concerts who might not have ever seen a thrash metal show before. Metallica wasn’t a scrappy club band anymore: they were finely tuned for maximum outsized impact in the largest possible performing venues. No matter how big of a reaction classic tracks like ‘Master of Puppets’ and ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’, ‘One’ was quickly becoming the band’s live centrepiece.

With its dramatic extended intro and slow-burning intensity, ‘One’ continues to ramp up the tension throughout its eight-minute live arrangement, throwing audiences into a dizzying frenzy and the guitar riffs and drum hits get progressively heavier and faster. By the time the rapid-fire final section kicks in, a complete catharsis takes over and all you can do is bang your head along with the band.

Check out Metallica’s performance of ‘One’ from the 1989 ‘Damaged Justice’ tour down below.