One by Metallica – Guitar Song of the Week

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In this week’s edition of “Guitar Song of the Week” I want to talk about One by Metallica. There’s another reason why Metallica is the choice today as it’s Lars Ulrich’s 50th birthday today!

one by metallica lars ulrich

Happy Birthday Lars Ulrich! Image by Alberto Cabello Mayero, used under Creative Commons 2.0

Since 50 years our favorite(?) drummer is smashing his kit more or less successfully. Despite all the mockery since St. Anger and the really bad Some Kind of Monster DVD, he wrote some of the greatest metal songs ever written. One of these songs is One by Metallica!

About One by Metallica

“One” was the first Top40 hit single by Metallica as it was included on the famous “…and Justice for All” album that came out in 1989. It was written in 1987 by James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich and it stays one of the most played Metallica songs during concerts. One by Metallica roughly is about a soldier that is disabled by artillery fire and now trapped inside his own body. It is also the first Metallica song with a music video – something that made people call the band “sellouts” back in the days. It was (is?) generally considered “untrue” to do that for a metal song, so this was quite a step.

What makes One by Metallica so awesome?

Basically, One by Metallica is the most perfectly built-up and structured metal song there is for me. The whole 7:27 minutes are perfectly laid out: starting with a clean intro, the song goes into the first verse with a slow rhythm, kinda like a ballad. Every chorus then switches towards a more heavy sound, but after the chorus it always turns back to the clean and softer style. Once Metallica gets into the “darkness” part, the whole song turns darker as well: you’ll listen to very fast riffs on the lower E string and a more aggressive vocal range of Hetfield. This is where One by Metallica culminates into one of the best solos ever written by Kirk Hammett! This solo is the climax of the song, everything before that has to be seen as a build-up towards this moment.

All these different guitar parts (clean and overdriven), the perfect song structure and the intense lyrics make One by Metallica one of the best guitar songs out there for me!

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