“For Whom the Bell Tolls” is a song by American heavy metal band Metallica. It was first released on the group’s second album, Ride the Lightning (1984). Elektra Records also released it as a promotional single, with both edited and full-length versions. The song is generally regarded as one of Metallica’s most popular; by March 2018, it ranked number five on the band’s live performance count. Several live albums and video albums include the song.
The song was inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s 1940 novel of the same name about the process of death in modern warfare and the bloody Spanish Civil War.
Specific allusions are made to the scene described in Chapter 27 of the book, in which five soldiers are obliterated during an airstrike after taking a defensive position on a hill.
Cliff Burton plays the bass guitar introduction with heavy distortion and a wah pedal.
Burton wrote the intro long before joining Metallica and first played it during a 12-minute jam at a battle of the bands with his second band Agents of Misfortune in 1979.