Metallica's Lars Ulrich: My 15 Favorite Metal and Hard Rock Albums

Drummer goes deep on classics ranging from AC/DC's 'Let There Be Rock' to System of a Down's 'Toxicity'

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Diamond Head, 'Lightning to the Nations' (1980)

Diamond Head, 'Lightning to the Nations' (1980)

If you're gonna say, "Name one record that's the blueprint for Metallica's sound," this is it. I've said that a thousand times; I've said it 10,000 times.

I ended up spending the summer of 1981 with the singer and the guitar player, Sean [Harris] and Brian [Tatler], living in their living room, sleeping on the couch and hanging out with them. I went back to California and wanted to start a band. They were the ones that took the more traditional hard-rock approaches: They were huge fans of Led Zeppelin, and they took the songs as a journey, as an exploration, as an experience, then they fused it with pure guitar riff-based energy. It's great songs that are groovy with simple drumming.

And at one point or another, Metallica have played all these songs. We obviously released "Am I Evil." We released "It's Electric,""Helpless," "The Prince"; we used to play "Sucking My Love" back in the day. We've obviously jammed on "Sweet and Innocent." We've jammed on "Lightning to the Nations." We have a very, very close relationship with every one of these songs.

At our first concert, I think we played four Diamond Head songs. We started out as a cover band and we sort of were in that grey area. We just went up and played the songs. We didn't tell anybody that they were cover songs – but we also didn't tell anybody that they were our songs. We just played the songs. I think it was the second or third show we played where we got a gig opening for Saxon, and their sound guy, Paul, came up and asked if we'd ever heard of a band called Diamond Head. I went, "Of course, we cover four of their songs." But yeah, we basically started out as a Diamond Head cover band.

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