The Big Four at Reloaded

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In alphabetical order, Anthrax, Megadeth, Metallica and Slayer played at Reloaded Rock Stage a thorough and memorable concert on Saturday. These were the most popular bands of mid-1980s thrash-metal. Thrash was a powerful mutt: it ran at hardcore-punk speeds and wedged hyper-articulate guitar solos into small spaces.

Anthrax, with the vibrato-heavy singer Joey Belladonna, was the least popular of the four bands: logic dictated that they come on first. Megadeath, as promised in the autobiography

Mr. Mustaine of Megadeth “Mustaine: A Heavy Metal Memoir,” came on second. The band played  one argumentative song after another, about paranoia and demagoguery and religious wars.

Slayer’s the sun had gone down by “South of Heaven,” and the singer Tom Araya, stock still and staring straight ahead, spit out his lyrics so fast that they couldn’t be displayed on the outfield’s digital screens, as they were for the other bands. The band remains a tight machine, rendering all gestures compressed. Rhythmically it swung, unlike Metallica, whose rhythm often grew unstable and plodding, especially in its recent songs. It felt armored and unstoppable, and the bizarre circumstance of playing to dozens of thousands of people on a ball field didn’t change a thing.

Finally came Metallica. The carrier of the concert. Of course Metallica goes at the top. Its self-titled fifth album from 1991, with ballad sections and expensive production values, exploded the logic of thrash metal and reached an awful lot of teenage bedrooms. It sold more than 15 million copies in the United States. So Metallica floats this operation. No Metallica, no Big Four. The calibrated set list started with the old (“Creeping Death”), moving to the new (“All Nightmare Long”) and a we’ve-earned-it instrumental section (“Orion”), then the hits and landmarks (“One,” “Master of Puppets”) and back to the old again (“Seek and Destroy”). And it was a proper retrospective, with songs fast and slow and medium, compassionate and merciless.

review based on New York Times “Metallica Earns Its Top Billing of the Big Four” by Bne Ratliff. The tribute concert was performed by Definitive Rock Concerts & Pirate Metal

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