Documents obtained by Exclaim! from Brutal Records and publisher Risky Music, which represent Incubus, outline cease-and-desist letter sent to Metallica's legal team on March 27. In the letter from Brutal Records' Michael Howard, he accuses Metallica of lifting Incubus's track "Hunger for Power," from their 1988 album Serpent Temptation, on Hardwired…To Self-Destruct track "Moth into Flame."
In an email to Exclaim!, Howard also accuses Metallica of stealing riffs from "Hunger for Power" on their other Hardwired track "Spit out the Bone," though there is no mention of this in the cease-and-desist.
The letter reads: "It has been brought to my attention, that you have made unauthorized use of my copyrighted work which is titled Hunger for Power. Your work titled Moth into Flame is fundamentally a close duplication of my work filed under the copyright of SR-130-298."
UPDATE (4/8, 12:30 p.m. EDT): It turns out that Metallica and Incubus may be the victims of an elaborate hoax or, even worse, a misguided PR stunt. Despite individuals claiming to represent Brutal Records sending out copies of the supposed cease-and-desist letter to publications like our own, as well as tweeting about the cease-and-desist action from the label's account, Incubus — who are now named Opprobrium — have taken to their Facebook page to claim they had no knowledge of the cease-and-desist.
You can read Opprobrium's entire message below:
UPDATE (4/10, 12:30 p.m. EDT): Adding an extra layer of weird to the whole thing, the folks representing themselves as Brutal Records are doubling down on their claims that Metallica indeed ripped off Incubus, despite the latter band claiming they have no knowledge of the cease-and-desist. You can see the label's latest tweets below.
@BradSeed Yes, I'm the uncle and godfather from Francis and Moyses Howard. I released the Decibel Demon - Incubus - Opprobrium - The Band Authorized— Brutal Records (@BrutalRecordsUS) April 9, 2017
Hunger for Power > 0:22 to 0:38 @BrutalRecordsUS Moth into Flame > 1:28 to 1:35 > 2:29 to 2:37 < 4:27to 4:37 > 4:59 to 5:08— Brutal Records (@BrutalRecordsUS) April 8, 2017
As you have not sought or requested permission/authorization to use, nor to make and/or distribute, sell, lend or lease my copyrighted work entitled Hunger for Power, you are hereby notified to CEASE AND DESIST any and all further unlawful acts of copyright infringement with regards to your actions and/or statements relating to this matter.
Failure to comply with this notice will confirm your complicity and leave me no other alternative but to proceed to file a civil action suit seeking monetary damages and compensation for court and attorney's fees incurred as a direct result of your unlawful actions of copyright infringement. It is not my wish to seek legal recourse; however, I will vehemently do all that is necessary to protect my work, Hunger for Power, and interests. Please note that this letter will be the only warning I will provide.
THEREFORE, you are hereby requested to immediately CEASE AND DESIST any further acts of copyright infringement and within 10 business days return the signed written assurance below affirming that you will refrain from any further acts of copyright infringement.
At this point, of course, the accusations have only come as a cease-and-desist, and they are only accusations. It's also unclear what, if any, actions Metallica's team has taken in response to the claims.
You can see a tweet from Brutal Records confirming the cease-and-desist action below.
For now, you can hear Incubus's "Hunger for Power" below, as well as the Metallica songs in question.
BRUTAL RECORDS SEND A " CEASE-AND DESIST" LETTER TO THE "METALLICA" ATTORNEY FOR THE SIMILARITY OF "MOTH INTO FLAME" & "SPIT OUT THE BONE"— Brutal Records (@BrutalRecordsUS) March 29, 2017