Metallica’s New ‘Fifth Member’ Takes Internet By Storm

Metallica have always been innovative when it comes to how they interact with their fans. From the Year and a Half in the Life documentary, to the Fly on the Wall segments in the studio, from their agonizingly honest doc, Some Kind of Monster, to the live recordings of virtually every one of their gigs from the last 20 years being made available on their website, Metallica have always seemed to go above and beyond when it comes to their fans.

It appears that Metallica have done it again.

The band introduced something called The Fifth Member, which is the continuation of their Metallica Fan Club. The difference now, however, is that there is no cost to being a member of the Fan Club. Additionally, Metallica has unveiled a completely new, completely overhauled website that was just unveiled this past weekend.

As cool as the website is – we will get to all the great new content in just a minute – what might even be cooler is something that drummer Lars Ulrich reveals in the first video for The Fifth Members.

Lars Ulrich [Photo by Ethan MIller/Getty Images]In the video, Lars is standing outside of Metallica’s HQ – the band’s own recording studio – slash – clubhouse somewhere in Northern California. Lars does his normal thing, commenting on the mundane, pointing out the sparse Halloween decorations in the form of wilting corn stalks and “lonely” pumpkins. He announces the new website and The Fifth Member, and thanks several people, (“an army of people”) that worked to get the new site up and running. Then, Lars waves us and the cameraman inside of HQ. We enter a control room and see James Hetfield sitting on a stool with a guitar jamming out a tune. James says “hello” to the camera, and then Lars goad him into “recording” something. There’s a bit of fun, “Are they recording? Are they not recording?” banter, before one of the engineers plays some drums on a backing track and Hetfield hits some ominous chords. After a few of those, the song hits some staccato crunch before Lars escorts us and the camera back out of the studio.

Clearly, Metallica is well into recording their new album.

As to the new website, the welcome message on the front page pretty much says it all.

“Welcome to the all new Metallica.com and Fan Club! We’re excited to provide you with a complete digital home for all the latest news and updates, over 30 years of history, photos and videos, and your new Fan Club community as we invite you to become the Fifth Member of Metallica.”

The new site includes a cleaner, streamlined, updated look. It includes the News section, which not only includes news announcements from the band, but links to media reviews of concerts, albums, et. al. by independent sources. The Tour section lets you sift back through 30 years of live appearances, including pictures, set lists, videos, and downloads of specific gigs (when available). The section also previews upcoming tour dates. (Funnily enough, if you click on the Upcoming Dates section, you get a simple, direct message that states, “WE’RE NOT ON THE ROAD RIGHT NOW.”)

Metallica [Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images]The Music section allows you to either click on Releases or Songs. Releases takes you to every album/release Metallica has put out in 30 years. The Songs section lets you pick any of the hundreds of songs Metallica has released. When you pick the song, you’re taken to the tune’s lyrics, the albums/releases the song appeared on, the times/dates the song was played live, and a few videos of the tune being played.

The Photos section gives fans a ridiculously large amount of photos and videos to sift through of the band. The Band section gives you an in-depth look at the history and bios of the members, and the Store section offers fans a variety of merch for sale.

All in all, the new Metallica website is very clean and well-organized… as well as deep. A diehard Metallica fan could spend hours reliving past concerts and sifting through page after page after page of Metallica ephemera.

[Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Sirius XM]