Metallica Wins 'Nobel Prize for Music' For Helping Kids Deal With Alienation

Metallica has been announced as the recipient of Sweden's prestigious Polar Music Prize, alongside the Afghanistan National Institute of Music and its founder Dr Ahmad Sarmast.

Organizers of the award, dubbed the 'Nobel Prize of Music', say the heavy metal band have "led where others have followed" and recognised their ability to transform any "teenage bedroom into a Valhalla".

Metallica (Image: Rogelio A. Galaviz C via Flickr CC)

The fast-paced, abrasive and relentless American band, best known for the 1991 record 'Black Album', are the first metal band to win the award.

Previous winners of the annual prize, now in its 27th year, have included Paul McCartney, Sting, Patti Smith, Paul Simon, BB King, Chuck Berry and Bjork.

Lars Ulrich, Metallica drummer and co-founder, said: "Receiving the Polar Music Prize is an incredible thing, it puts us in very distinguished company.

"It's a great validation of everything that Metallica has done over the last 35 years," he explains, "at the same time, we feel like we're in our prime with a lot of good years ahead of us. Thank you very much."

Frontman and co-founder James Hetfield added: "I feel very honoured 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. Thank you."

The judge's citation goes as follows: "In Metallica's world, both a teenage bedroom and a concert hall can be transformed into a Valhalla..... The strength of the band's uncompromising albums has helped millions of listeners to transform their sense of alienation into a superpower."

Each year the Polar Prize honours two laureates, one from the contemporary world and one from the classical, and is awarded for significant achievements in music.

It's handed out in the presence of the Swedish Royal Family and each winner receives one million Swedish Kronor ($125,000 or £88,000).

Marie Ledin, managing director of the prize, said: "We believe that our two recipients, although from very contrasting worlds, exemplify the mission of the Polar Music Prize."

"Metallica are loved and admired by millions of hard rock fans across the globe," she adds, "They have led where other bands have followed and their 2017 world tour broke all records.

Dr Sarmast, director of the ANIM, said he was "excited, honoured and privileged" to receive a prize for the institute, which he founded in 2010 in response to the civil war's destruction of Afghanistan's musical tradition.

Between 1996 and 2001 music was completely banned in the country but now the institute provides a learning environment, supporting disadvantaged kids - orphans, street-working vendors and girls.

As Ledin explains, to "restore the joy and power of music to children's lives" and "work with young people and disadvantaged children is truly inspirational."

Writer and photographer from South London, UK. If you want to get in touch please email me at: matthew.kirby@konbini.com