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The Big 4: Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, Anthrax

Date: 9/14/11
Venue: Yankee Stadium, New York
Reviewed By: Rich Catino


The Big Four, the name affectionately given in the 80s by fans and the media to thrash metals biggest selling names, finally make a (second) stop in their home country satisfying the demands of the east coast heavy metal community.

Anthrax The Friday prior to their performance at Yankee Stadium (the band are also fans of the baseball team and wore Yankee style jerseys at the show with the Anthrax logo on it), the New Yorkers were given a special treat by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. as he presented a proclamation to the guys, declaring the day Anthrax Day In The Bronx. Anthrax also had another reason to celebrate as their latest album (with Joey Belladonna back on vocals) "Worship Music" hit stores the same week.

Joey Belladonna is the singer in Anthrax (no offense to John Bush because his voice is fine, its just the music during his time was always more miss than hit) and I’m glad he’s back, hopefully this time for good. Look, he is the voice of the band and is a major factor to what made Anthrax standout in the 80s. He’s got the look, the tone, and place on the stage that identifies Anthrax. Since the early 80s, original members Scott Ian (guitar) and Charlie Benante, followed by Frank Bello (bass, he came on board for the "Armed and Dangerous" Ep in 1985) who is just a ball of energy on stage, continue to be the core writing team, with Rob Caggiano on lead guitar who has been a member since around 1995’s “Stomp 442”.

With three reasons to be happy, the guys hit the stage on this nice sunny day with smiles playing an all hits set (I’m glad they dropped ‘I Am The Man’ and the cover of Public Enemy’s ‘Bring The Noise’) including two new ones off "Worship Music"; ‘Fight 'Em Till You Can't’ and ‘The Devil You Know’. Speaking of covers… ‘Antisocial’ and ‘Got The Time’ wore out their welcome a long time ago. They should play one or the other, not both every night, plus they have so much better stuff to pick from and I’m sure the fans are as tired of em as I. Moshpit igniters ‘Caught In A Mosh’, ‘Madhouse’, ‘Indians’, and ‘Metal Thrashing Mad” (off the appropriately titled debut “Fistful Of Metal”), all kicked off a day of thrash metal on the right foot.

Megadeth Just days before to the concert, rumors hit the internet Megadeth were not going to play due to frontman Dave Mustaine’s injured neck (which was to be operated on days after the show). But being the trooper he is, Mustaine and the boys didn’t want to let down the fans and still played. Original bassist Dave Ellefson has been back in the band for the past few years, joined by Shawn Drover on drums (he’s been around since a little before 2007’s "United Abominations"), and "can playing anything" Chris Broderick who can play all Megadeth’s past guitar players leads as good of not better than how they were recorded. Really, he’s that good and precise. Love his playing.

Understandably, the set didn’t include many aggressive tunes aside from the ones the fans come to know as classics like ‘Holy Wars... The Punishment Due’, ‘Hanger 18’, to another newer gem ‘Headcrusher’ from "Endgame". Obviously headbangers ‘Symphony Of Destruction’ and ‘Peace Sells’ were in there, but ‘She Wolf’, the radio friendly single ‘Trust’, the melodic ballady ‘A Tout Le Monde’, to the mid-tempo ‘Public Enemy #1’ from the forthcoming album “Thirt3en”, captured more of Megadeth’s energy tonight.

Slayer SLAYER! Hahaha, I had to write it as fans say the name because this was one of my favorite Slayer performances. Aside from drummer Dave Lombardo leaving in the past and then returning in recent years, Slayer are one of the few 80s heavy metal bands that still have all four original members to this day. Unfortunately, long time original guitarist Jeff Hanneman continues to recover from surgery after an arm infection due to a spider bite and has missed several Big Four shows in 2011. His replacement, Gary Holt from Exodus, couldn’t have been a better choice. I like Jeff as a rhythm player, but his solos are usually rather repetitive and boring. It was a breath of fresh air to hear Gary spice things up with the whammy bar and little nuances he adds without changing the original recording. And he really compliments Kerry Kings creative playing as well.

At night is the only way to see Slayer as the dark music is really brought to life on a stage washed most of the time in red and darker colors. Tonight’s setlist had a great flow, opening with ‘Disciple’ and a chorus "God hates us all" really made a statement, and one only Slayer can make. ‘Hate Worldwide’, ‘Snuff’ and ‘Psychopathy Red’ represented the latest album "World Painted Blood" and the rest of the set was all classics from the 80s; staples ‘War Ensemble’, ‘Chemical Warfare’, ‘Angel Of Death’, and ‘South Of Heaven’, and It was also great to hear again ‘Silent Scream’ and ‘Black Magic’ (off the debut "Show No Mercy") back in and part of ‘Raining Blood’.

Slayer were definitely the best band of the night.

Metallica Metallica…o how I miss the once mighty long haired thrash masters. Really, admit it, as soon as the haircuts happened it was all downhill. Clearly it was a statement and a change, and not for the better. Aside from a few songs, "Load and Re-Load" live up to their names as a load, and the change in the Metallica logo and shitty album artwork was just as bad. "St. Anger"…ugghh, don’t get me started on that mess. Just all around bad decisions creatively for many years. At least ”Death Magnetic” is a step in the direction, and we got the old Metallica logo back, but still the artwork is for shit and Lars insists upon playing a toddlers drums kit.

Anyway…Metallica rightfully should be headliners because of "Kill Em All", "Ride The Lightning", "Master Of Puppets", "And Justice For All", and the multi multi platinum self titled 1991 album. Can’t deny it. Like Slayer, one of the few bands who still have three out of four original members; singer James Hetfield with six string partner Kirk Hammett, and drummer Lars Ulrich are now aided on bass by Robert Trujillo (who played with Suicidal Tendencies and Ozzy).

What’s been great in recent years is their setlist changes every night and three or four tunes can be different from night to night, including a couple rarely performed gems. Tonight it was great to hear "Ride The Lightning" and the instrumental ‘Orion’, I mean really how often do they even play ‘Orion’? I even got ‘Trapped Under Ice’ a couple years ago in Jersey.

As players, and after 20 years of making music, unlike Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax, I think Metallica have lost a little of the intensity they had in the 80s, and probably because of Lars and his dumbed down tiny drum kit and minimalistic playing. Really, doesn’t anyone tell this guy to step it up or step out? Hetfield still does good with those melodic passages on ‘Welcome Home (Sanitarium)’, ‘Fade To Black’, and ‘Nothing Else Matters’, but again, has lost some of the anger from the bands liquor fueled past. Trujillo makes up for it, night after night delivers the energy on stage and as he swings his long hair sweats all over the crowd. And no Lars, standing up after a song or coming out from behind the drums with an expression on your face ain’t cutting it. We want you to play it. Since I was a teenager Kirk has always been my favorite member (I’m sure since we both had a love for horror and Scifi movies has something to do with it) and its great to see him still playing a guitar with artwork from the classic Universal Studios Mummy movie. Still calm and cool on stage (as more grays work their way into his curly hair), with lots of wah-wah peddle his technique and layed back presence has remained unchanged.

Keeping with the tradition of previous Big Four shows, for the encore members of Slayer, Megadeth, and Anthrax joined Metallica on stage for a cover, tonight was Motorhead’s ‘Overkill’, a band who greatly influenced the thrash metal style.

All in all The Big Four is a landmark (and long awaited) event in Heavy Metal history. Word has it Metallica (they are the ones to put this package together) plans on doing more Big 4 shows in the future given its success. And let’s not forget, when speaking of, it’s important to remember those who would make up the Big Ten of Thrash; Exodus, Overkill, Testament, Destruction, Kreator, and Sodom.


Fight 'Em Till You Can't
Got the Time
Caught in a Mosh
The Devil You Know
Metal Thrashing Mad
I Am The Law

Hangar 18
Public Enemy #1
Head Crusher
A Tout Le Monde
Sweating Bullets
Symphony of Destruction
Peace Sells
Holy Wars... The Punishment Due

Hate Worldwide
War Ensemble
Psychopathy Red
Mandatory Suicide
Chemical Warfare
Silent Scream
Dead Skin Mask
South Of Heaven
Raining Blood
Black Magic
Angel Of Death

Creeping Death
For Whom The Bell Tolls
Ride The Lightning
Fade To Black
All Nightmare Long
Sad But True
Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
Master Of Puppets
Nothing Else Matters
Enter Sandman
Overkill (Motorhead cover with members of Slayer, Megadeth, Anthrax)
Seek & Destroy

Big 4:




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