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The Big 4: Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax on the Big Screen!

Review: The Big 4 Movie: Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, and Anthrax on the Big Screen!
By Larry West

I was a teenager again.

In 2002, I was an oddity in my high school. I, unlike 99% of the other students, listened to metal. Not only that, but I was still just getting into the genre. By the time I graduated, I had gone from listing to Winger’s Seventeen, to listening to Slayer’s Reign in Blood. That was truly a magical time, and I had one simple vision of all these guys just getting together and playing at each others’ shows. This was already occuring to some regard; Anthrax let Metallica share its space, Dave Mustaine formed Megadeth after getting kicked out of Metallica, and Kerry King of Slayer played rhythm guitar for Megadeth. All of these bands helped each other out at one point in time during the formative stages. The dream of everyone in the metal world was to finally, after 25 years, see all of these legendary bands play the same concert; To see the Big Four in the single greatest concert ever!

Last night, we all got to be kids again.

At movie theaters across the Globe, The Big Four: Anthrax, Megadeth, Slayer, and Metallica were unleashed, causing not devastation, but the rarest joy you could ever see at a metal concert. It was, in and of itself, a different experience than any concert any of us had been to. You’re in an air-condition movie theater with a ton of people. Do you mosh? Do you sing along? Do you act like you do at a show?

As the show started, we were treated with the opening riff of Metallica’s “The End of the Line”, awesome graphics, and there they were: Lars Ulrich of Metallica, Scott Ian of Anthrax, and Dave Mustaine of Megadeth. Before the gravity of the situation finally dawned upon me, they all said their hello’s and said, “The concert starts in 30 minutes.” Then they cut to Sonisphere, just filling up with people, just like at any other show. It was an act worthy of Monty Python.

After a few minutes, they cut back to these 3 metal gods, 50 feet tall on a massive screen, discussing how the festival was put together. Lars talked about how great it was to finally do something like this, Scott Ian simply sitting there, nodding politely from time to time in agreement. Cut to Dave Mustaine’s reaction; stone silence. More than worth the price of admission!

Anthrax started the show, and the electricity was flying through the air! Joey Belladonna, long time and returning front man, came out and started the night of with “Caught in a Mosh”. They were playing the concert of their lives, and every note, every second of it proved just that! Half-way into “Indians”, the band broke tempo and went into a cover of Black Sabbath’s “Heaven and Hell” in tribute to the late Ronnie James Dio who first sung and wrote the lyrics. Hearing Joey belt out the classic with Anthrax in top form… it warmed your heart.

Then came Dave Mustaine’s Megadeth armed with the potentially deadly, yet life nourishing nectar of the gods in both their music and in the rain that came down upon the crowd. Is there anything better than seeing a guitarist so on fire that even the heavens see fit to cool him down with some water? Going straight into “Holy Wars”, there were very few words needed between songs, and barely any were given. Instead, Dave Mustaine went through hit after hit, including “Hangar 18”, “Sweating Bullets”, “Symphony of Destruction”, “Headcrusher”, and closing it with “Peace Sells”.

Up next was Slayer, opening with the title track of the new album World Painted Blood, only to blast you back to 1990 with “War Ensemble”. Now, at this point, you may be wondering how your humble narrator and the others in the theater were acting. Well, we were pretty insane! Chanting along to our favorite songs, getting into the experience as if we were right there… it was magic! Then they played “Angel of Death”. I think it’s simple enough to say that, no matter what, no matter where you are, if you are at a Slayer concert and they play “Angel of Death”, you get off your ass and MOSH! So I got up, and god damn it, I had a one-man pit in the handicapped section!

There was a small break, about the first one in 3 hours, from all the action where all the guys talked about how cool it was to meet and know Ronnie James Dio, who was scheduled to play at this year’s Sonisphere. Despite his age, the man could still sing like he did 40 years ago, and Scott Ian asked him once in 2004 when they toured together how he did it. “Smoke a joint and drink a beer.” God bless him!

The lights then went dark, and then music swelled. A scene from “The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly” came on screen along with “The Ecstasy of Gold”. It was then that the all-mighty Metallica came on stage, and blasted through their set like pros! Seeing a Metallica concert has been like being in a time warp, where time has no meaning at all, and they played at virtually 1000mph! They may have slowed their tempos on later albums, but they were playing at double-speed tonight! If you’re like me and seen then about a dozen or so times live, the highlight would have been them playing “Cyanide”, the only new song in the set.

It would have been, was it not for the encore.

“For this next song, I want to bring out a few friends”, remarked James Hetfield. And out they came; Megadeth, Anthrax, and Slayer. Almost all the guys all out on the same stage! Dave Mustaine next to James Hetfield next to Scott IanCharlie Benante, Dave Lombardo, Lars Ulrich, and Shawn Drover all playing drums together! James Hetfield, Joey Belladonna, AND Dave Mustaine sung “Am I Evil?” by Diamond Head together on stage, each one taking a certain section. It was better than Christmas! It was better than Halloween! It was, in short, the ULTIMATE metal head fantasy! Seeing all of them, these gods and legends of metal, all together, on the same stage, performing the same song together… it was magic. It was astounding. It was, simply put, once in a lifetime.

It was, without a doubt, the single greatest concert ever.

–=-=-=-=-=-=-
The Big Four will be shown again at theaters nationwide June 24th at 7:30pm your local time. Get 10 friends and go out for the night! Go to Fathom Events for more details and a theater near you.

Editor’s Note: Larry West is the main graphic artist and illustrator of Blow The Scene. Our multi-talented friend will be posting from time to time, so you will not only get to see his work, but you will be able to read into his mind!

All photos below courtesy of MetOnTour.com

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9 Comments

  1. Kjetil

    Dude, what the hell?? Charlie “Bennet?” Try “Benante.” And “Kerry King formed Slayer after playing in Megadeth??” Wrong again! He left an already existing Slayer to play in Megadeth and quickly returned. And “Cyanide” would be your highlight, were it not for the all-star jam of “Am I Evil?” Obviously you’re young, and into nu-Metallica, so I won’t begrudge you of that. But the aforementioned factual errors are simply inexcusable. You’re not even worthy of listening to Winger….go listen to some Ke$ha, poser.

  2. joshua

    Easy tiger. He’s a young artist 😉

    But you are indeed correct. Kerry King formed Slayer shortly before Megadeth came into fruition. King briefly played in Megadeth until his infamous falling out with Dave, at which time he quit Megadeth and focused on Slayer full time. So, we have changed the wording and the metal gods have lifted us from damnation.

    Amen.

  3. Adam Rauf

    My friend said the concert sucked. And people make mistakes all the time. In fact, we’re the ones putting our real names out there and taking whatever flak anonymous comments get thrown our way. I think it was a well-written article, newer fan or old.

    The complaints I heard were mainly on the sound; my friend Evan [who listens to a LOT of older metal] said that Anthrax was the only one that had a proper mix. He said he was disappointed that Dave Lombardo’s thundering double-bass sounded thin, and the cymbals in general were too wishy-washy.

    He did say Metallica and Slayer were his favorites, and said Dave sounded terrible with ‘Deth. He said he would’ve preferred him in his trashy drugged-out state instead of his sober sloppiness.

  4. james

    Sounds like an interesting thing to see. Not sure I’d want to sit in a movie theater to watch it, but who knows, maybe my old ass would enjoy that better.

    Anthrax was the first concert I ever attended. They played with Helloween and I’m sure some other band that I can’t remember. It was a weird venue in Philly. Maybe Electric Factory?

    Anyway, thx for the post and bringing me back to my youth for a few moments.

  5. lwest

    I, personally, don’t get all the “Dave was sloppy” comments. His voice wasn’t great, but when you listen to him at any concert in the past, even in the 90’s, he wasn’t always 100%.

    Actually, Metallica may had been the sloppiest, only because of how fast they were playing. Like I said, the tempo’s were almost double what they played on the album on almost every song, so Kirk wound up sounding bad because of all the off-timing and having to play catch-up sometimes.

    But I do agree about the overall audio mix. It may have been the theaters, it may have been the fact that it was being broadcast through Dish Network, it may have been the soundboard… honestly, who knows?

    In the end, it was still an AMAZING concert. Once-in-a-fucking-lifetime!

  6. Mutlabuja

    “I had a one-man pit in the handicapped section!”

    As a disabled metal fan, I find this extremely inappropriate. My first reaction was to simply call you a loser, but I might as well take this opportunity to educate. These spaces are not for your crazy antics and should be reserved for those with disabilities. Persons with disabilities can take a bit longer to get to an event and nothing would discourage an individual from attending would be to see some kid acting like a fool in an area we are already forced to sit. The last thing I would to do is be forced to get someone to remind you how to act like a civilized human while also drawing attention to myself and disability. Show some respect, Mr. West.

    – Mut LaBuja

  7. lwest

    Hi Mut LaBuja!

    You’re correct, those spots are for people with disabilities, and I understand that sometimes it takes them longer to get to the theater or their seat than most people.

    For the record, though, this was an empty theater with a grand total of 25 people. Not only that, but Slayer didn’t come on until roughly 3 hours into the film, and the section was completely empty. For roughly 2-3 minutes, I used the spot to dance around in a theater that was basically empty.

    So I do apologize if I offended you or anyone else out there with disabilities. Believe me, if someone needed the section, I would have left in a heartbeat.

  8. Mutlabuja

    Mr. West,

    Thank you for the apology. I would like to add a few comments though. The size of the crowd makes no difference. All it takes is one disabled person for a need to exist in the handicap areas. The time that Slayer came on is also unimportant. A fan, such as myself, could come to attend the event at any time. As a matter of fact, and I am not in this group, but a lot of people interested in this movie may be only interested in seeing Metallica. It is common practice to look at a curfew on a concert (or a movie in this case) and show up later to avoid the opening bands. This is beside the point, as in essence, you are treating this as someone who chooses the handicap equipped stall just for the extra room thinking that it is okay and no one will really need it. You have no idea who infuriating this is to someone who really needs this and has to wait outside the bathroom. Now, what I often see from these individuals is a disrespectful attitude by not looking at me or acknowledging my situation. You did not do that, which is great. I feel that you have respect for the disabled individual, so I ask you this, please remove your lines regarding moshing the handicapped area. It is highly disrespectful, insensitive, and sets a terrible example. I ask that you have heart and understand the sensitive nature of the situation and remove the parts that glorify this disrespectful behavior.

    Kind Regards,

    Mut LaBuja

  9. Tracey

    metallica suck hard. lars, give it up.

    slayer still have some chops though.