"Not since Wagner's emotional turmoil and Tchaikovsky's cannons has anyone created music that is so physical and furious, and yet still so accessible", the Polar Music Prize website said of Metallica.
The winners have been invited to receive their awards, including a cash prize of 1 million kronor ($124,000 USD) each, on June 14 from members of the Swedish royal family in Stockholm. Drummer and co-founder of Metallica Lars Ulrich said "Receiving the Polar Music Prize is an incredible thing, it puts us in very distinguished company", on being awarded the laureate.
The Polar Music Prize was established in 1989 by the late Stig Anderson, the manager of Swedish superstars ABBA, and selects two laureates each year.
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Previous winners of the Polar Music Prize include Yo-Yo Ma, Paul Simon, the Kronos Quartet, Patti Smith and Bjork.
Presented by King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, each Polar Music Prize victor receives one million Swedish kronor (approximately £90,000).
James Hetfield said: "I feel very honoured to be in such great company with the others who have accepted the Polar Music Prize".
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Legendary heavy metal band Metallica has been named as laureate of the prestigious Polar Music Prize for 2018. At the same time, we feel like we're in our prime with a lot of good years ahead of us.
Sarmast, who has faced substantial risk in a country where both music and girls' education was banned under the repressive 1996-2001 Taliban regime, said he was "very excited, honored and privileged" to win the prize. As myself and as Metallica I'm grateful to have this as part of our legacy, our history. Dr Ahmad Sarmast founded the Afghanistan National Institute of Music to restore the joy and power of music to children's lives.
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