There are only a few bands out there that have their own logo, and even fewer that deserve them. The band has to be so famous that they’re more than just a musical act – the band has to be an institution in the industry. One of those few bands that have a deserved logo is Metallica, and that logo has seen them through many different ups and downs. As you track the changes in the Metallica logo, you can actually track how the band itself – and the way the band related to the public – changed alongside the logo.
Metallica Logo Design Elements
The current, and best-known, Metallica logo is simply the band’s name written in a stylized manner. The word itself is written normally, save for the first and last letters. The ‘M’ and ‘A’ in Metallica are both heavily elongated, giving a feel that’s both sharp and dangerous. Taken together, the name Metallica heavily evokes the spirit of heavy metal and of living on the edge.
As you might expect from one of the ur-examples of metal, the Metallica logo is silver and black. The color scheme’s reasoning is obvious, and it’s managed to stick throughout multiple iterations. The font is a specially designed font called Pastor of Muppets, a play on the title of a Metallica song designed by Ray Larabie.
Changes and Evolution
The shapes of the current and original Metallica logos are identical, helping to bring the band’s identity full-circle in an attempt to bring back its glory days. Between 1996 and 2008, though, it did go through a few changes. The 1996 logo drops the Pastor of Muppets font for a more straightforward version of the same, a version of the logo that looks as corporate and sanitized as the band was accused of being during that time period. The band would adopt a wilder, spiky version of the original logo in 2003 as they attempted to get back to their roots – and back to the top of the charts after a disastrous album and the near-breakup of the band.
Metallica has moved its color scheme around a bit over the years, but it’s largely kept to silver and black. From time to time the silver will turn to white, but that’s more a nod to printing difficulties than anything else. What’s been important, though, is that the colors have always represented the heavy metal style of music with which the band is forever associated. If the band was ever to stray away from that color, it would probably indicate a major tonal shift for both the band and for its ideology.
The font for Metallica has always been a variation on the Pastor of Muppets font. When the logo has changed, it’s largely been tied to a change in the way the band has been perceived. The 1990s logo greatly shirked the unique nature of the font for something far easier to print and that was far closer to the establishment – a nod towards the fact that Metallica was no longer an outsider but part of the mainstream. The jagged version of the font in the 21st century likely spoke to a renewed sense of energy and perhaps danger in a band that was finally revitalized. The return to the classic font is a return the roots, something that has played out fairly consistently in the band’s new music.
What influenced Metallica? It’s hard to tell. The font designed for the band was an original, and the trend of bands having their own logos wasn’t necessarily still in full swing during the 1980s. It was definitely inspired by a number of other bands during the time, of course, but the primary influence seems to be the metal subculture. The sharp lines, dark colors and spiky nature all speak heavily towards the metal style of dress and general aesthetic of the 1980s.
Metallica certainly influenced a few other bands. The easiest one to point out is Megadeth, but there were countless other metal bands in the 1980s that had similar logos due to Metallica’s influence. In many ways, the Metallica logo helped to bring the metal aesthetic to the mainstream and thus it inspired countless successors.
- The band was formed in Los Angeles in 1981
- Despite the band’s heavy criticism of file-sharing services, its owed a great deal of its early popularity to tape trading and bootleg recordings.
- Metallica is considered one of hte ‘Big Four’ founders of Metal alongside Anthrax, Slayer, and Megadeth.
The story of the Metallica logo is the story of the band. From edgy to corporate and back, it has changed as the band’s lineup and ethos has changed. As a logo, it does something incredibly important – it tells a story.