Metallica will make history when they receive the Polar Prize in Sweden, a prestigious award dubbed the “Nobel Prize of Music”.

The Los Angeles-based heavy metal band will be the first artists of their genre to receive the honour.

The first Polar Music Prize laureate was Paul McCartney in 1992. Since then, recipients include Elton John, Sting, Patti Smith, Chuck Berry, Pink Floyd, B.B. King, Bob Dylan, Ray Charles, Bruce Springsteen, and Canada’s Joni Mitchell.

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“It puts us in very distinguished company,” said Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich of the honour. “It’s a great validation of everything that Metallica have 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.”

Frontman James Hetfield added, “As myself and as Metallica I’m grateful to have this as part of our legacy, our history.”

Judges from the Stig Anderson Music Award Foundation described their decision to extend the award to Metallica: “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,” they wrote in a statement published by The Guardian.

“Through virtuoso ensemble playing and their use of extremely accelerated tempos, Metallica have taken rock music to places it had never been before.”

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“In Metallica’s world, both a teenage bedroom and a concert hall can be transformed into a Valhalla,” the statement concluded. “The strength of the band’s uncompromising albums has helped millions of listeners to transform their sense of alienation into a superpower.”

Two laureates are announced every year, with some exceptions, with one contemporary and one classical musician being honoured. 2018’s second recipient will be the Afghanistan National Institute of Music and its founder, Dr Ahmad Naser Sarmast.

The “Moth to Flame” band will receive their award and 1 million krona (over C$150,000) prize in Stockholm this June. Metallica will donate the prize money to their charity, All Within My Hands.

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