Ghost took the stage in their trademark gothic costumes and opened the song with an eerie, deft piano part that twisted beneath singer Tobias Forge. However, Ghost soon launched into full-fledged heavy metal assault befitting Metallica, tearing through a truncated, though faithful rendition of “Enter Sandman” marked by a few flourishes of theatric harmony.
The Polar Prize recognizes international excellence in music. It is considered the musical equivalent of the Nobel Prize. It’s given out each year to one contemporary and one classical musician. The King of Sweden, Carl XVI Gustaf, was on hand to present the award to Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich and bassist Robert Trujillo.
In a speech, Ulrich spoke about Metallica’s somewhat surreal journey from being underground thrash heroes to being honored by actual royalty. “The type of music that we played was not supposed to be acknowledged or embraced by the mainstream, the media or even large audiences,” he said. “In 1981 when this band formed, I just wanted to play music in a collective setting and feel like it belonged to something bigger than myself.”
Ulrich seemed humbled as he described Metallica’s mainstream breakthrough in the late-Eighties and early-Nineties, and he closed his remarks saying, “Receiving this prize solidifies the idea that no matter how alienated you feel, connecting to other people through music is not only possible but can be outright inspirational and life changing.”