Battery is the opening track of Metallica's 1986 album Master of Puppets. Similar to the opening track from Ride The Lightning and ...And Justice for All (titled "Fight Fire With Fire" and "Blackened" respectively), Battery begins with a slow, clean guitar part which then explodes into full speed thrash. In this case, three acoustic guitars are layered harmonically before the drums and bass come in with distorted guitars playing a more melodic version of the acoustic part. This lasts until 1:06, when the guitars cut into a very fast minimalist thrash metal riff that is the basis for the rest of the song. In live concerts, the beginning is not played by the band but instead the actual recording is used (recently dropped 1/2 step in key, since the band tunes 1/2 step down).
The theme of the song revolves around the San Francisco thrash scene of the 1980s. The most prominent club played by Metallica was the Old Waldorf located at 444 Battery Street in downtown San Francsico. The tone of the song is one of familial ties and the positive release of energy through the common interest of metal. The lyric "Cannot kill the family, Battery is found in me" is a statement that while society at large doesn't understand the scene, those within it (i.e. "the family") will fiercely defend it as a show of solidarity against the glam scene that was popular in the Los Angeles area.
"Battery" used to be a constant part of the band's live set list, frequently as the opening or closing song. In some cases, it is also used as a song before the intermission. Since 2008 the song has usually been dropped from setlists. When played, the song may stop before the interlude, and James Hetfield asks the crowd "Are you alive?... How does it feel to be alive?" (this can be heard on the live album S&M) and followed by the solo played by Kirk Hammett. As seen in the documentary Some Kind of Monster, the auditioning of future bassist Robert Trujillo started, on his request, with "Battery". In the live version of the song played on the Live Shit: Binge & Purge album, intros to the songs "No Remorse", "Ride the Lightning", and "So What?" are played in the song. When performed with the San Francisco Symphony in 1999, the intro up to the thrash riff was instead played by string players in the symphony, utilizing pizzicato in the beginning (the original acoustic) then with bows for the rest.
Battery is tied with “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” as being Metallica's 10th most-played song. The first performance was on March 27, 1986 in Wichita, Kansas. As of April 23, 2013, the song has been performed 865 times (the most recent being February 7, for the Night Before, pre Super Bowl show.)
Allmusic's Steve Huey called the songs "Battery" and "Damage, Inc.", "two slices of thrash mayhem".
- This song (along with the entire Master of Puppets album) was covered by Dream Theater as part of their world tour in 2002 and has been released as an official Bootleg recording.
- This song was covered by the band Machine Head for Kerrang!'s Master of Puppets: Remastered, and is also included as a bonus track on some versions of their album The Blackening.
- The song was also covered by the a cappella metal band Van Canto on their debut album "A Storm to Come".
- On "Animetal Rebirth Heroes", Animetal uses the riff for "Battery" throughout the entire song "Touch" with some changes in between.
- This song was covered by the band Ensiferum for Evil Ultimate Metal Covers No. 55. It was also featured on the single "Tale of Revenge".
- Beatallica, a mash-up band that combines Metallica and The Beatles, combined Battery with The Ballad of John and Yoko to create The Battery of Jaymz And Yoko on their Masterful Mystery Tour album.
- Die Krupps covered the song for A Tribute to the Four Horsemen.
- This song was covered by Eric AK (Flotsam & Jetsam), Dave Lombardo, Mike Clark, and Robert Trujillo for Metallic Assault: A Tribute to Metallica. Dave Lombardo would play the song with Metallica on stage when Lars Ulrich missed the 2004 Download Festival, and Robert Trujillo would become a member of Metallica in 2003.
- This song was covered by Prototype for Phantom Lords - A Tribute to Metallica released by Dwell Records in 2002.
- Harp tribute duo Harptallica covered the song's introduction on their album Harptallica: A Tribute.
- Pop-punk band Lagwagon borrows the line "smashing through the boundaries/lunacy has found me" for their song "Raise A Family" found on their 2000 release "Let's Talk About Leftovers."
- Deftones covered the song on the second night of the band's 'One Love For Chi' concerts in 2009 with accompaniment from Dave Lombardo of Slayer on drums, Alexi Laiho of Children of Bodom on guitar, Rob Trujillo of Metallica on bass, Daron Malakian and Shavo Odadjian of System of a Down on guitar and bass respectively, and Greg Puciato of The Dillinger Escape Plan on vocals.
- Sum 41 cover this song on their tour but they normally played the intro of this song.
In popular culture
- "Battery" was featured as a playable track in Rock Band 2 where it is among one of the hardest to perform for all instruments, and Guitar Hero: Metallica.
- The song appears in the 2010 indie film Hesher.
- "Battery" also appears in the 2012 movie Project X.
Lashing out the action, returning the reaction Weak are ripped and torn away Hypnotizing power, crushing all that cower Battery is here to stay Smashing through the boundaries Lunacy has found me Cannot stop the battery Pounding out aggression Turns into obsession Cannot kill the battery Cannot kill the family Battery is found in me Battery Crushing all deceivers, mashing non-believers Never-ending potency Hungry violence-seeker, feeding off the weaker Breeding on insanity Smashing through the boundaries Lunacy has found me Cannot stop the battery Pounding out aggression Turns into obsession Cannot kill the battery Cannot kill the family Battery is found in me Battery Battery Circle of destruction, hammer comes crushing Powerhouse of energy Whipping up a fury, dominating flurry We create the battery Smashing through the boundaries Lunacy has found me Cannot stop the battery Pounding out aggression Turns into obsession Cannot kill the battery Cannot kill the family Battery is found in me Battery