A Look Into the History of the Iconic Metallica Logo

Ever wonder who did the design? We uncover here

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Are you a massive Metallica fan or one in the making and want to know everything there is to know about them aside from just their classic catalog? Well then, consider yourself one of us and welcome to the family. When we aren’t blasting the band’s legendary albums, we’re also researching cool facts about them that we never knew before. Today’s topic of discussion is the history of the Metallica logo and how it all came to be upon the band's debut. Similar to what we’ve done previously with The Rolling Stones and The Beatles, we’re going to take a deep dive into who exactly created the Metallica logo, the design process behind it, and how the logo has evolved over the years.  

Are you ready our fellow Master of Puppets. Let’s rewind time and take it all the way back to the rockin’ 1980s shall we?

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Who Designed The Metallica Logo?

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Believe it or not, the logo for Metallica was actually created by none other than James Hetfield. According to, Hetfield studied drawing while in high school, and put those handy artistic skills to use originally in a sketch he made to promote the group as they were getting started with local performances. Hetfield designed the name/logo it to where the letters "M" and "A" in Metallica were more elongated than the rest, giving birth to an iconic creation. Metallica began using the original logo in 1981, with its first official appearance being on the cover of their 1983 debut studio album Kill ‘Em All. From there you can say the Metallica logo only evolved.

The Different Iterations of the Metallica Logo

Like many of their contemporaries, Metallica’s logo has gone through different evolutions over the years. Here’s a breakdown of some of the different ones.

Logo # 1 (1983 - 1996)

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This first iteration is what remains the most popular with the M and A elongation and lightning flash symbols. On different album covers such as Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets, the band would play around with 3D shapes and things of that nature, but the core of the logo remained the same. Metallica would keep this version from 1983 to 1996.

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Megaforce Records

Logo # 2 (1996 - 2003)

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From 1993 to 1996, Metallica would use just a regular simple font that was way more subtle compared to its predecessor. The "M" and "A" remained slightly elongated still, but the lightning flash symbols were gone. In our opinion, this is our least favorite version of the logo because it took away the Metallica personality represented within it. The first logo felt like a representation of a true rock band. This, however, just feels like words on a piece of paper (the logo did look kind of cool on those headbands though).

Logo # 3 (2003 - 2008)

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Elektra Records

Now we’re talking! The logo used from 2003 to 2008 definitely felt much more “Metallica,” with the letters looking like they were engulfed in flames. This logo brought the personality and spark back, and it definitely felt like a logo that wasn’t just a representation of a rock band, but one of the most legendary rock bands of all time.

Logo # 4 (2008 to present)

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And in 2008 Metallica took it back to the beginning with a slightly enhanced version of its original 1981 design. The extreme elongation on the "M" and "A" was back and so we’re the electric lightning flashes. This logo represents the Metallica we were all introduced to and fell in love with, therefore it’s Metallica in its most original form. In our opinion, Metallica doesn’t need to make anymore changes because this iteration represents them completely, and perhaps they too feel the same way because they haven’t changed it in fifteen years. Metallica always.

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