The Big 4

The Big 4, Ullevi, Gothenburg, Sweden, 2011-07-03



Ok, let’s face it. The only reason Anthrax are on this bill is because they were, together with the other three who are playing tonight, one of the bands that actually succeed to reach out a bit to a broader audience. But that was in the eighties and except for maybe one or two records, they never sold that much and since the eighties Anthrax’s existence has been pretty anonymous, mostly featuring a lot of members walking in and out of the band. Even back in the day, Anthrax felt a bit clowny, with the members jumping around in Bermuda shorts, wearing indian feathers,guitarist Scott Ian shaving the word ”not” on his chest and writing funny little rap songs. It was first when John Bush replaced vocalist Joey Belladonna that they started to act a bit serious, but it didn’t work. Now, Belladonna is back and the band has kept themselves more on the serious side. ironically, Mr Anthrax himself, guitarist Scott Ian is absent tonight because his wife Pearl, Meat Loaf’s daughter is expecting their first child and is being replaced by Sepultura’s Andreas Kisser. The band worked really hard and seemed genuinely happy to be part of this whole spectacle, despite a terrible sound and playing in broad daylight. But unfortunately they didn’t cut it, mostly because, at least in my book, their songs just aren’t good enough. But they are a tight unit and the way they really gave it their all is worth the two stars despite the terrible sound and shortage of good enough songs.



Megadeth is, in the song department, the opposite of Anthrax. I was never a fan of their earlier albums, except the odd song or two, but from the late 80’s and Rust In Peace and on they wrote plenty of excellent songs and recorded a whole bunch of great albums such as Rust, Countdown To Extinction, Youthanasia and more. Also, the band has always featured great musicians, no matter who played in the band and there have been plenty of members passing through the Megadeth camp. On the bad side they have never been an interesting live act and tonight was no exception – quite the opposite. Despite a lot of great songs, the guys looked and sounded uninspired and Dave Mustaine’s voice was totally out of tune. He was never a brilliant singer, but this evening it sounded worse than ever. And as usual he just stood there, hiding behind his big red hair doing nothing more than just playing his guitar and singing. The rest of the band are no showmen either, but at least they moved around a bit. Latest guitarist, Chris Broderick is a real find, a great player, however you couldn’t tell if he or the rest of the band had a good time or not. Me, I did not have a good time. This was just plain boring.



After two hopeless cases, Slayer took the stage and showed everybody how it’s done. The sound was a lot better, in fact it was real good and the opening track ”God Hates Us All” is a jawbreaker. Just like the last two times I saw them they performed a greatest hits set and they really did no wrong. Tom Araya is a charismatic frontman, managing to look both evil and like a happy camper at the same time. Original guitarist Jeff Hanneman was absent due to surgery on his arm and was replaced by Exodus man Gary Holt who was pretty damn excellent. Other guitar player Kerry King is a crap player but makes up to that with a lot of attitude and a grim stage presence. Then there’s Dave Lombardo. The guy just have to be the best metal drummer in the world. He impresses me more and more the more I see him play. Congratulations to a certain Danish guy who have to take the stage after him. Slayer are as tight, aggressive, melodic, fast, heavy and entertaining as you get. So what if Tom Araya has neck problems that makes it impossible for him to headbang anymore. This is extremely close to a 10/10 review and the only bad thing I can say about this is that I wish that they had played longer. The winner of this mini festival. Hats off.



Metallica really has all the ingredients to totally blow all the other bands away. At least five albums worth of killer tunes, they play last so they can use all the lights, pyro, a huge stage, great sound. So what is wrong then? Well, their biggest issue is their drummer. One of the most important things with their music is that it has to be tight and groovy. You need a steady beat. Lars Ulrich is untight, one of the most untight drummers I have ever heard. Peter Criss is like a drum machine in comparison. He speeds up the tempo of the song just to slow it down the second after. To me, that ruins everything. What bass maestro Robert Truiljo must be thinking is probably unprintable. Then we have Kirk Hammett. Sometimes I’m not sure what the heck the guy is doing. His playing is sour and sometimes he sounds like he’s out of tune. He should just stick to playing something really simple, because he just isn’t the guitar god he thinks he is or wants to be. On the good side, James Hetfield is impressive. He is an astonishing frontman, full of confidence, authority and humour. He might not be a Pavarotti, but who cares. He sings with passion and heart and he seems to mean every word that comes out of his mouth, also he is a better guitarist than Hammett!

Their stage show impresses me a lot and with Hetfield holding the audience in a tight grip, to hear 55 000 people singing along to absolutely everything gives me goosebumps. No need to name drop song titles here, but a big thanks to the guys for having the guts to not play hits like ”The Unforgiven” or ”Nothing Else Matters”, songs we have heard to death by now. The encore with the members of Anthrax and Megadeth (where was Slayer???) performing the Diamond Head cover ”Am I Evil” was so much fun. Weird how happy the Megadeth boys looked here compared to their own set. So with guys like Hetfield and Trujilo, a treasure chest full of brilliant songs and a show that really kills, it’s sad that a gig that could have been 10/10 only gets a 6.  But the way the songs were swaying due to Ulrich’s inabilaty to keep a steady beat, a six is what the whole thing is worth in the end.

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