For Whom the Bell Tolls (Metallica song)

"For Whom the Bell Tolls"
Metallica - For Whom the Bell Tolls cover.jpg
Promotional single by Metallica
from the album Ride the Lightning
B-side"For Whom the Bell Tolls" (album version)
ReleasedAugust 31, 1985 (1985-08-31)
Format12-inch single
RecordedFebruary 20 – March 14, 1984
StudioSweet Silence, Copenhagen, Denmark
GenreThrash metal
Length
  • 3:59 (promo edit)
  • 5:10 (album version)
LabelElektra
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
Audio sample

"For Whom the Bell Tolls" is a song by American thrash metal band Metallica. It was first released on the group's second album, Ride the Lightning (1984). In 1985, Elektra Records released it as a promotional single, with both an edited and full-length versions. The song is generally regarded as one of their most popular; by March 2018, it ranked number five on Metallica's live performance count.[1] Several live albums and video albums include the song. In 2019, the song was prominently featured in the film Triple Frontier.


Composition

The song was inspired by Ernest Hemingway's 1940 novel of the same name about the process of death in modern warfare and the bloody Spanish Civil War. Specific allusions are made to the scene described in Chapter 27 of the book, in which five soldiers are obliterated during an airstrike after taking a defensive position on a hill.

Cliff Burton plays the bass guitar introduction, which is often mistaken for an electric guitar, with heavy distortion and a wah pedal. Burton wrote the intro before joining Metallica and first played it during a 12-minute jam at a battle of the bands with his second band Agents of Misfortune in 1979.

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