Hotel rooms and motorways / Life out here is raw / But we will never stop / We will never quit / cause YOU'RE Metallica
...And Justice For All. They had just lost arguably the driving force behind their musical evolution into the nine-minute epic-writing band we know them as today and were pissed at having to hire a replacement (the perpetual Butt-MonkeyJason Newsted). They somehow channeled that into an album that had enough sheer force behind every song to make every song, from the opening reversed-guitar intro to "Blackened" to the last thrash-tastic moments of "Dyers Eve", an expression of the raw fury they felt at the time. They even managed to score a Grammy off "One", which cemented their meteoric rise to fame.
"One" is also #3 on best Solo and #5 on best song according to Top Ten.com anyway.
Speaking of Grammys, arguably their Moment of Awesome really came when ...And Justice For All LOST to Jethro Tull for the Best Hard Rock Album Grammy. The upset, more than anything else, put Metallica on the mainstream map.
And yes, you read that right, the intro to "Blackened" is reversed. You cannot even tell at all that it's reversed, no giveaways at all. Doubles as an awesome moment in the sense that they managed to create a riff that sounds just as fantastic backwards as it is forwards.
Master of Puppets if only for the title song, and "Battery", but consensus says the entire album qualifies. There's a reason why so many web sites and metal magazines have ranked it as the greatest metal album of all time; it's pure, distilled awesome from start to finish.
"Orion" is one hell of an instrumental. In fact, that whole album reeks of awesomeness, give "Battery" a listen and try to say otherwise. The intro to "Battery" is a song in and of itself. Never has flamenco guitar sounded this badass.
"Disposable Heroes" is arguably the most underrated song of their classic years. At nearly 9 minutes and maintaining a claustrophobic and sorrowful atmosphere throughout, lyrics about PTSD and depression (especially raising awareness of suicide and mental illness in extremely young vets- something not many bands at the time were willing to do) and jam-packed to the brim with amazingly kickass riffs to boot, it's a song that's so beautifully aggressive that it's a shame it doesn't get more mention than it does.
Their debut album, 1983's Kill 'Em All, which may just blow Master of Puppets clear out of the water. "Hit the Lights" is just fucking awesome: not even rabid metal fans had heard a song that fast before! "Motorbreath" is similarly insane, and "The Four Horsemen" is just plain spooky. Metal Militia, too, is a blisteringly fast closing song with a bassline that is almost superhuman.
Metallica and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra's "S&M" performance. See "The Call of Ktulu". It raises the feeling of being with a monster without saying a word.
The S&M "The Thing That Should Not Be" could even surpass the original version.
The performance of "For Whom The Bell Tolls" at the same concert was breathtakingly amazing. The whole performance is basically a Concert of Awesome.
The S&M version of "The Ecstasy of Gold" is just breathtaking and sends chills up the spine. It's unbelievable.
The S&M version of "Battery" is absolutely amazing. Not only is it an absolutely intense song, the intro is complemented to perfection by the Orchestra. Finally, the intensity of the vocals combined with the excellent instrumentals on both sides is absolutely orgasmic.
The whole idea of a symphony orchestra playing with Metallica sounds ridiculous at first, but with Michael Kamen at the helm (he previously collaborated with them on the Black Album) it should be no surprise that the combination is glorious. Any doubts that "Call of Ktulu" didn't erase are gone once the first few notes of "Master of Puppets" hits.
Since Load was such a stylistic change for Metallica, it contains several excellent songs that frequently get overlooked - but the most awesome track off that album would have to be "Hero of the Day". (With an honorable mention to "Bleeding Me", "King Nothing", and "The Outlaw Torn".) With that in mind, take a listen to Until it Sleeps and keep your composure if you can.
Ride the Lightning deserves a mention, if only for the title track and "For Whom the Bell Tolls".
Alternatively, every song. Except maybe "Escape". Least interesting song on the album? Maybe. Still a good fucking song? Duh. It's Metallica.
"Fade to Black" is another standout; it was their first ballad, and one of the best.
"Fight Fire with Fire", probably the most aggressive song they've ever written that's not on St. Anger. ENDING IS NEAR!
St. Anger is a polarizing album, but those who are on the "Love It" side really tend to love it. Consider the title track. A little bit long-ish? Mayhap. Still awesome? You bet your ass. Seven minutes plus of pure, distilled aggression as only Metallica could have done at that time. It also doesn't hurt that it features some of Lars' fastest double-bass footwork since Battery.
The Beyond Magnetic EP. These four songs were cut from Death Magnetic, and finally released in their rough mixes. The song "Shine" finally got released as "Just a Bullet Away" and is totally epic. Also, "The Rebel of Babylon" is a tear-jerking tribute to Layne Stayley. This should set aside all doubts about Metallica that stem from LuLu.
"Hardwired", their first 2016 single, is a great representation of what makes Metallica great. The beautiful and dynamic "Moth Into Flame", another single from Hardwired, is similarly an excellent example of how well the band has matured. "Spit Out the Bone", meanwhile, is being praised as one of the band's best songs since 1988. Many people have commented that they didn't think the band had a song this intense in them this late in their career.
Lulu has been widely criticised, but, as with St. Anger, it has its defenders, and the people who like it tend to really love it. The closing song, the nearly-twenty-minute epic "Junior Dad", is absolutely gorgeous, with a closing section that could have come straight out of Sigur Rós. An arguable career highlight for both Metallica and Lou Reed. Other highlights include "Pumping Blood" (featuring some of Lars Ulrich's best drumming since the '80s) and the devastating "Little Dog" and "Dragon".