1. An inside look from photographer Ross Halfin

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Ross Halfin didn't discover Metallica — the band discovered him. In 1984, the famed rock photographer, who documented the U.K. punk scene in the 1970s and later helped launch Kerrang! magazine, was trailing Queensryche when he got an order from Metallica's manager: "Stop being an asshole and go and shoot my new band."

Since that fateful day — when Halfin showed up at guitarist James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich's humble shared house in El Cerrito, CA — the photog has trailed the metal stars, from their early beginnings playing scrappy, run-down clubs to headlining slots at major festivals around the globe.

The Ultimate Metallica: Photographs by Ross Halfin documents the time Halfin has spent with the band. And while he hasn't always been on good terms with the guys — he went on "sabbatical" at certain points — no photographer has had such unfettered access to metal's biggest band.

As Ulrich notes in the book's foreward, "When I notice [Halfin] lurking around the stage and I have a momentary awareness of his presence, it just doesn't seem like he does all that much. But of course, as all great masters of their domain, he has his thing down. Way down. And his thing is being not only in the right place at the right time, but at the right angle, with the right perspective, the right line of site, etc. That's why he is an enigma to me. Because I often can't correlate the results with such effortlessness."START THE PHOTO GALLERY >>>

2. An inside look from photographer Ross Halfin

2/14

Ross Halfin didn't discover Metallica — the band discovered him. In 1984, the famed rock photographer, who documented the U.K. punk scene in the 1970s and later helped launch Kerrang! magazine, was trailing Queensryche when he got an order from Metallica's manager: "Stop being an asshole and go and shoot my new band."

Since that fateful day — when Halfin showed up at guitarist James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich's humble shared house in El Cerrito, CA — the photog has trailed the metal stars, from their early beginnings playing scrappy, run-down clubs to headlining slots at major festivals around the globe.

The Ultimate Metallica: Photographs by Ross Halfin documents the time Halfin has spent with the band. And while he hasn't always been on good terms with the guys — he went on "sabbatical" at certain points — no photographer has had such unfettered access to metal's biggest band.

As Ulrich notes in the book's foreward, "When I notice [Halfin] lurking around the stage and I have a momentary awareness of his presence, it just doesn't seem like he does all that much. But of course, as all great masters of their domain, he has his thing down. Way down. And his thing is being not only in the right place at the right time, but at the right angle, with the right perspective, the right line of site, etc. That's why he is an enigma to me. Because I often can't correlate the results with such effortlessness."START THE PHOTO GALLERY >>>

3. Young Guns

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Metallica formed in 1981 when James Hetfield (far right) responded to a newspaper ad placed by Lars Ulrich (second from left). Bassist Cliff Burton (far left) didn't sign on until 1983, and died tragically while on European tour three years later. Guitarist Kirk Hammett was called in to replace Dave Mustaine, who was fired from the band in 1983 due to substance abuse troubles.

4. Metalocalypse

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Metallica performing in Mexico City during the Death Magnetic Tour in 2009. The band has become one of the biggest live acts: Their 2010 trek is the third-highest grossing of the year so far.

5. Club Rats

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Metallica at a secret gig at London's 100 Club in 1987.

6. Stone Cold Crazy

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Cliff Burton (left) performing at a 1985 show in Donington, UK, a year before his death; Hetfield (right) in concert on an unspecified date.

7. Camera Ready

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Ulrich in Japan during Metallica's ...And Justice for All Tour in the late '80s. "We were just wandering around Tokyo having a laugh," Halfin recalls. "This was in the days now long gone when he would wake up (with a hangover) and want to do pictures."

8. Quiet Before the Storm

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Hetfield, Hammett, bassist Jason Newsted, and Ulrich backstage at the Hammersmith Odeon in London during the ...And Justice For All Tour in the late '80s.

9. Tense Times

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Hetfield (left) and Hammett in Oslo, Norway, during the band's Load Tour in the mid-'90s. This was around the time when Halfin began to reconnect with the band, although he didn't totally gel with the guys. "I had come back after a sabbatical, and it was odd. Bodyguards, bodyguards, assistants, and more bodyguards...there was no vibe whatsoever, and everybody looks on edge," Halfin recalls.

10. Before They Were Kings

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The guys on the road in the early '80s. "They were the 'in-between' band," Halfin recalls. "Aerosmith, Ted Nugent, and Dokken were the main ones, and Metallica were sort of like 'the fans playing to the fans.' In these pictures, they look like fans, especially Lars and James, who really do look like punters; James could've been anyone in the audience. Which was what, in a weird way, gave them their charm."

11. Soundcheck

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Hetfield, Trujillo, and Hammett rehearsing before a show in Nimes, France, in July 2009.

12. Shout at the Devil

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Ulrich at the band's Nimes, France, gig in July 2009.

13. Gettin' Cheeky

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Hetfield and Ulrich backstage at a Mexico City gig on June 7, 2009.

14. Reloaded

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The band in the early 2000s with current bassist Robert Trujillo, who joined in 2003.