Metallica had recorded four tracks for the upcoming tribute album dedicated to Dio, This Was Your Life. Ulrich discussed the band's contribution with Rolling Stone, and acknowledged the singer's impact on himself and his bandmates' personal lives and music.
"Ronnie's music, and what he was, was part of my life," Ulrich began. Dio came to fame in the 1970s with his iconic metal band Rainbow, and Ulrich saw the band perform several times during his youth in Copenhagen, Denmark. Dio died of stomach cancer in 2010.
"[Dio's] music is so much a part of what's in Metallica's DNA, the harder, edgier, blues-based hard rock from the Seventies," Ulrich continued. "It was fairly effortless to put [the tracks for the compilation] together, because it's something that we were all reared on."
The four songs Metallica recorded for This Was Your Life are covers of Dio's own music, chosen for their significance and meaning to Ulrich. The band combined Rainbow's tracks "Stargazer," "Tarot Woman," "Kill the King," and "A Light in the Black" into a medley titled "Ronnie Rising Medley" dedicated to the singer.
Ulrich said their choice to cover Dio's songs for the tribute was intended to convey respect. "You just try and do your own thing, respectfully, in the shadow of these legends," Ulrich expressed. "It becomes more of an homage and respect thing rather than trying to copy the song -- it's not even about outdoing them."
This Was Your Life will be released on April 1. Profits from the record will be donated to the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout cancer fund. Motörhead, Tenacious D, Anthrax, and members of Judas Priest, Slipknot and Dio's band also contributed to the compilation.
"Ronnie Rising Medley" is available to listen to on Rolling Stone.