Friday, December 19, 2008

Metallica at the Forum

The year was 1986. I was too young to accompany my heavy metal worshipping brother to the Ozzy Osbourne/Metallica concert. My brother had scalped fourth row tickets and was excited to see Metallica with their insanely talented bassist Cliff Burton. Metallica was touring behind Master of Puppets and upstaging Ozzy on a nightly basis.

Another story in relation to Metallica was the hunt for a copy of the Metallica Kill 'em All cd with the two extra tracks of "Am I Evil?" and "Blitzkrieg" that was discontinued after a short run. I would eventually find the cd in New Hampshire after many years. Needless to say, I have been a Metallica fan for some time.

Metallica recently released Death Magnetic that revisits their thrash roots. Two sold out nights at the Forum proved that the legions of Metallica fans are still as strong as ever. Would Metallica still have the same fire they did back in the day?

The Sword

Starting at a criminally early 6:58pm, The Sword unleashed their ferocious doom metal to a sparsely populated crowd at the Forum. Gods of The Earth is a roaring throwback to the good old days of headbanging metal. J. D. Cronise (Vocals/Guitars) was shattering eardrums with his Gibson Explorer running through an Orange and Laney Amplifier for distinctively British metal sound.

The Sword has been opening all of the dates on the Metallica tour and seemed comfortable in the open round setting as J.D. would switch back and forth between available microphone stands. I can't imagine how nervous they must feel opening for Metallica on a huge stage that seperates the band members. The Sword showed no signs of nervousness as they worked through a way too short six song set. Trivett Wingo (Drums) showed some support of the metal scene by wearing a Black Cobra shirt who I recently caught at Spaceland.


Originally I thought Lamb of God was going to be opening for Metallica but Machinehead got the nod instead. My brother thought he overheard that Lamb of God was banned from playing the Forum. It could also be due to the fact that they have songs titled "Walk With Me in Hell" and that the Forum is a church.

Machinehead was spectacular earlier this year when they opened for Hellyeah at the Grove in Anaheim. It wouldn't be far fetched to say Rob Flynn (Vocals/Guitars) was a big fan of Metallica since he hails from the bay area like Metallica. Machinehead also covered Metallica's "Battery" on the special edition of The Blackening.

Machinehead's latest album measures up to some of their earlier material like Burn My Eyes and The More Things Change with a return to their thrash roots. "Clenching The Fists" started of their pummeling set with Rob Flynn using his trusty Gibson Flying V emblazoned with a MH logo on the headstock. Dave McClain (Drums) was perched high above the round stage on a drum riser rocking out on his ddrums.

Machinehead pleased the old school metal fans with their Iron Maiden cover of "Hallowed Be Thy Name" as Phil Demmel (Guitars) and Rob traded off solos. The overall mix was slightly muddy but cleared up after a few songs and was deafening when Machine Head ended their set with a suffocating rendition of "Davidian".


Laser beams capable of cauterizing your optic nerve blasted through the air as Metallica took the stage. The ominous guitar riff of ""That Was Just Your Life" chugged as a flood light illuminated James Hetfield's (Vocals/Guitars) face. An assortment of coffin shaped lights would be lowered close to the stage as Metallica ripped through another new song "The End Of The Line" with Kirk Hammett playing his Dracula ESP Guitar.

The pits started to circle when Metallica dialed back the clocks for the classic thrash of "The Four Horsemen". Metallica seemed extremely tight and the crowd was salivating, ready for the onslaught. The hits kept coming as they ripped through "Ride The Lightning". The testosterone really started to swirl by the time Metallica unleashed "One" on the crowd.

"Broken, Beat And Scarred" and "Cyanide" kept the energy levels high as the crowd was familiar with the new material. I was impressed how well the new songs held up with the older material. James asked the crowd if they were ready for some medium heavy stuff as they lumbered through "Sad But True". "Wherever I May Roam" had Kirk crush his wah pedal for a ridiculously fast guitar solo that justifies his ranking as one of the elite metal guitar shredders.

"Master Of Puppets" was a highlight for me as I felt semi-vindicated for missing the tour all those years ago. The pyro went off during "Fight Fire With Fire" to remind those in attendance that this was a true arena metal show. Kirk added some subtle wah during the opening of "Enter Sandman" that drove the audience crazy. I couldn't help think that "Enter Sandman" has to be one of the top arena metal songs as everyone in the Forum was screaming.

Kirk teased the crowd with a few notes of "Am I Evil?" which prompted Lars to pound out the drums to "Raining Blood" as James and Robert Trujillo (Bass) laughed. Metallica would get down to business by racing through "Breadfan". The old school hits kept coming as they played "Motorbreath" and closed with "Seek and Destroy". It was fitting that they gave out Guitar Hero Metallica t-shirts on my way out of the Forum. After seeing the perfectly executed palm muted power chords and flashy guitar solos, I have better chances of sounding like Metallica in a video game.

Metallica Setlist at the Forum (12/18/08)
"That Was Just Your Life"
"The End Of The Line"
"The Four Horsemen"
"Ride The Lightning"
"Broken, Beat And Scarred"
"Sad But True"
"Wherever I May Roam"
"All Nightmare Long"
"The Day That Never Comes"
"Master Of Puppets"
"Fight Fire With Fire"
"Nothing Else Matters"
"Enter Sandman"
"Am I Evil"/"Raining Blood"(tease)
"Seek and Destroy"

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