Nearly 40 years into their career, Metallica will receive the Polar Music Prize – an equivalent award to the Nobel Prize – this coming spring. The award recognizes international excellence in music. The group will receive an award of one million Swedish kronor, roughly equivalent to $126,000. The band will donate the money to its own All Within My Hands organization, which aids communities in need with workforce education, food-bank donations and other local services.
“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,” reads the statement on the Polar Music Prize’s website. “Through virtuoso ensemble playing and its use of extremely accelerated tempos, Metallica has taken rock music to places it had never been before. 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.”
“It puts us in very distinguished company,” Lars Ulrich said, according to the BBC. “It’s a great validation of everything that Metallica has 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.”
“As myself and as Metallica I’m grateful to have this as part of our legacy, our history,” James Hetfield said.
Metallica formed in Los Angeles in 1981 and helped galvanize thrash metal as a genre. Their fifth LP, The Black Album, sold more than 16 million copies and is the best-selling record of the past quarter century. That album, along with four others, were featured prominently on Rolling Stone’s list of the Greatest Metal Albums of All Time. Their 1986 album, Master of Puppets, ranked Number Two on the list, behind only Black Sabbath’s Paranoid.
Past Polar Music Prize recipients include Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, Patti Smith, Björk, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John and Quincy Jones. It was founded in 1989 by former Abba manager Stig Anderson; its name comes form Anderson’s Polar Music label.