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(Credit: Ralph Arvesen)


Metallica's Lars Ulrich names his favourite Black Sabbath album


Metallica’s pedigree can’t be understated, and for 40 years, they have been a force to be reckoned with and one that continues to leave a trail of terror in their wake. Formed by James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich back in the early 1980s, there’s only one other metal band to enjoy a similar level of prowess, and they need no instruction: the great Black Sabbath.

When Ulrich steps on-stage with Kirk Hammett, Robert Trujillo and James Hetfield, something enchanting takes place, as the drummer has a rare precision in his skillset that glues his formidable bandmates together. For Ulrich, his love affair with metal began when he was a teenager, a moment when Sabbath opened his eyes to the existence of a new world.

In truth, Ulrich has lived a peculiar life, and initially, it was never part of his plan to become a musician. Bizarrely, when he 16-years-old, Ulrich left behind his life in Denmark and booked a one-way ticket to America to make it as a professional tennis player, a decision which incidentally led to the formation of Metallica.

Of course, the path to becoming a metal drummer is perhaps the polar opposite of the pristine image that surrounds the world of tennis. However, even though it seems like a complete left turn, the truth is that metal was always his true calling. Ulrich first received a Black Sabbath album for Christmas when he was 10-years-old, and from that day, he embraced the dark side.

His favourite album by the groundbreaking group is 1975’s Sabotage, an LP that is not often widely accepted as Sabbath’s greatest moment. Still, Ulrich takes joy from its simplicity in comparison to their more complicated work, believing it to be the most robust record they produced.

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“I know for a lot of Black Sabbath people, it’s Paranoid or Master of Reality,” he explained to Rolling Stone. “To me, the fucking one-two punch of ‘Hole in the Sky’ and then ‘Symptom of the Universe,’ that’s where it peaked for me, and then the deeper tracks: ‘Megalomania’ is, like, a journey of just fundamental heavy metal.

“Side A, if you look at vinyl, is probably the strongest 20 minutes of Black Sabbath. And then ‘Symptom of the Universe’ – the simplicity in the riff, the down-picking, the chug – it’s obviously the blueprint for the core of what hard rock and metal ended up sounding like … up through the Eighties and Nineties.”

Delving more into his love for the band, Ulrich added: “The first Sabbath record I got was the one before this one, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. I got it for Christmas in ’73 when it came out. It was all scary. ‘Sabbath Bloody Sabbath,’ the song, when it goes into that second part, ‘Where can you run to?/What more have we done?/ … Sabbath, bloody sabbath/Nothing more to do.’

“Fuck. Scary, crazy shit. This record had a little bit more of what I would call an uptempo energy than some of the other albums, so that’s probably also part of the reason that it’s my favourite. Obviously their sound got a little more advanced as it went on. There’s a simplicity to some of the earlier records, that I’m appreciative of, but sonically, Sabotage is the best-sounding record.”

It’s reflective of Ulrich’s style that Sabotage is the Sabbath album for which he has the most love in his heart, even if it isn’t the most technical in their arsenal. However, just like him, it’s visceral, immediate, and gets the blood racing in your veins.

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