Metallica have been named recipients of Sweden’s Polar prize, considered one of music’s most prestigious awards. The Los Angeles four-piece are the first metal band to receive the honour, which has previously gone to acts including Joni Mitchell, Paul McCartney and Chuck Berry.
Drummer Lars Ulrich said: “It puts us in very distinguished company. It’s a great validation of everything that Metallica have done over the last 35 years. At the same time, we feel like we’re in our prime, with a lot of good years ahead of us.”
Singer and guitarist James Hetfield added: “As myself and as Metallica I’m grateful to have this as part of our legacy, our history.”
The judges wrote of the band: “Not since Wagner’s emotional turmoil and Tchaikovsky’s cannons has anyone created music that is so physical and furious, and yet still so accessible. Through virtuoso ensemble playing and their use of extremely accelerated tempos, Metallica have taken rock music to places it had never been before.”
They continued: “In Metallica’s world, both a teenage bedroom and a concert hall can be transformed into a Valhalla. The strength of the band’s uncompromising albums has helped millions of listeners to transform their sense of alienation into a superpower.”
Metallica will receive their 1m krona (£90,000) prize in Stockholm this June. The band have said they will donate the money to their charity, All Within My Hands, which supports organisations dedicated to issues including poverty, youth music programmes and paediatric cancer.
Each year the Polar music prize names two “laureates”. The second 2018 recipient is the Afghanistan National Institute of Music and its founder, Dr Ahmad Naser Sarmast. ANIM supports orphans, children who work in the street and young girls by training them as musicians and singers.
Abba’s manager, the late Stig Anderson, founded the Polar music prize in 1989.