By 1984, Metallica was already on its way to the top. Sure, they were still a penniless band, short on resources but with an immense sense of drive and determination. Their debut album “Kill ‘Em All” had taken the then-nascent underground Thrash Metal scene by storm and people had begun to take notice. That included the Music For Nations label, who had already inked a modest contract with the band then-manager Jon Zazula and his Megaforce Records to distribute their albums in the UK and some other European territories.
As part of such venture the band needed some promotional snapshots. Enter photographer Fin Costello, who by that time, was already a sort of king of hard rock and heavy metal photography. He had under his credit a portfolio that included photos for Rainbow, Deep Purple and iconic album cover shots for Kiss (Alive), Judas Priest (Unleashed In The East) and Ozzy Osbourne (Blizzard Of Ozz).
“They had a small deal in the UK and I was asked to do a quick shot for publicity”, remembers the photographer. After listening to the album “I had (collaborator) Denise Richardson paint a canvas background for the shoot”. Coincidentally, the blue background had similar tonalities than the eventual “Ride The Lightning” cover sleeve.That image had been designed by AD Artists based on a band original concept. “The album cover came afterwards so I guess the color palette of the photo might have influenced the colors chosen for the cover“ muses Costello. “I wasn’t involved with that cover and didn’t know that color had been used until much later”.
The day of the shoot, the band arrived to the studio and stoically posed in their blue jeans, leather jackets, bullets belts and that was basically it. One of the selected images even became part of the album’s layout. At that time, Costello couldn’t imagined that the young quartet would eventually become one of the biggest musical entities in popular music. In fact, they never crossed paths again. “That was the only thing I did with them”, says the photographer, confessing not remembering much more about the whole experience. The rest, is now part of Metal history.
Photographer: Fin Costello
Coming Up Next: Dark Tranquility shoots at a German sunflower field
Article by Ramon Martos Garcia – Copyright 2013 © Heavy Music Artwork.