Legendary heavy metal band Metallica has been named as laureate of the prestigious Polar Music Prize for 2018. The Swedish international award, which recognizes both contemporary and classical musicians each year, will also be awarded to the Afghanistan National Institute of Music and its founder and director, Ahmad Sarmast. Each laureate receives prize money of 1 million Swedish Kronor ($124,500).
“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,” the Polar Music Prize website said of Metallica. “Through virtuoso ensemble playing and its use of extremely accelerated tempos, Metallica has taken rock music to places it had never been before. The strength of the band’s uncompromising albums has helped millions of listeners to transform their sense of alienation into a superpower.”
“Receiving the Polar Music Prize is an incredible thing. It puts us in very distinguished company” said Metallica co-founder and drummer Lars Ulrich. “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.”
The Polar Music Prize was founded in 1989 by Stig Anderson to celebrate the power and importance of music, with Paul McCartney and the Baltic States named as the first awardees. The 2017 recipients were Sting and Wayne Shorter, while other recipients have included Emmylou Harris, B.B. King, Bjork, Paul Simon, Pink Floyd, Elton John, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder and Bob Dylan.
James Hetfield, singer, guitarist and co-founder of Metallica, said: “I feel very honored to be in such great company with the others who have accepted the Polar Music Prize. As myself and as Metallica I’m grateful to have this as part of our legacy, our history.”
Polar Music said the classical laureate, awarded to Sarmast and the Afghanistan National Institute of Music, was given “in recognition of how this inspirational organization has used the power of music to transform young people’s lives,” going on to say it was “committed to preserving Afghanistan’s rich musical heritage and to providing a safe learning environment to hundreds of boys and girls.”
The awards will be presented June 14 at a gala ceremony in Stockholm.