I watched some old Metallica concert clips (Seattle '89, San Diego '92) on YouTube earlier today, along with a few new ones. I was once again struck by the force they bring to a live show, which is untouchable among the vast majority of other so-called bands of this era that shun power chords, favor "guy liner," and produce user-friendly songs that reach for mainstream success at the deliberate sacrifice of their musical art.
These bands simply lack balance, and in all fairness Metallica has taken their hardcore fans on a few valley experiences as well (St. Anger, for instance). But through it all James Hetfield has been the heart and soul of Metallica from the very beginning. He is the Warrior-Poet of the Hard Rock/Metal genre' and precious few are worthy to be mentioned in the same breath. None have ever surpassed him, and it's unlikely that anyone ever will.