Metallica Turns 30 with Ozzy, Danzig, Rob Halford, and a Roomful of Fanatics

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Metallica performing with Glenn Danzig Friday night at the Fillmore.

Metallica
(plus guests)
Dec. 9 and 10, 2011
The Fillmore

Better than: Turning 30 alone, we're assuming.

The birthday party for the biggest metal band in the world came to its finale this weekend with classic songs and surprise appearances from some of the hugest names in heavy music, including Ozzy Osbourne, Rob Halford, and Glenn Danzig. Like the previous shows on Monday and Wednesday, both Friday and Saturday night felt more like church for Metallica die-hards than any regular concert: Onstage there was plenty of chatter, (self-) congratulation, inside jokes, unusual performances, and shirtless, banana-eating, singer-playing-the-drums mischief. By 1 a.m. Sunday, with celebratory hugs and photos going off across the Fillmore stage, this Bay Area metal band had officially turned 30. Its members looked exhausted.


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10 Actually Good Songs on Metallica's Despised Load and Reload Albums

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It's not that bad. Really.

As we celebrate Metallica's 30th Anniversary, it's time to reexamine a popular mindset among critics and fans of the most enduringly popular band in metal history: Many believe that all four of Metallica's 1980s albums were unimpeachable classics, and that after that, the band members cut their hair, hired a pricey behavioral therapist, sued their fans over Napster, and were never worthwhile again. You're not going to get any argument from us on the first part -- Metallica's first four records are mostly excellent. But to completely write off the second act of the band's career is a sad oversimplification. Sure, the Napster thing wasn't a good look for a band that built its fanbase in the early '80s on the circulation of bootleg tapes. And granted, Metallica did make two of the worst albums by a major act in recent memory, 2003's St. Anger and last month's collaboration with Lou Reed, Lulu.

But we'd argue that the band's two post-Black Album records, 1996's Load and 1997's Reload, are somewhat underrated. Recorded during many of the same sessions and released a year apart while Metallica were on tour, Load and Reload were warmly received by critics at the time, but they've since taken their place among the most reviled work of Metallica's career. These albums are stripped-down and streamlined, without most of the extended solos and complex song structures that defined the group's earlier work. They're both plenty self-indulgent regardless, totaling nearly three hours in length (and a good part of that run time is filler). But between the two, there are some gems that make them worthwhile. Yes, really. Check out these 10 songs.

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Metallica's Top 5 Most Alienating, Hate-Inducing Actions

Categories: Metallica Week

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​"Metallica loves to be hated," James Hetfield told Playboy in a 2001 interview. The group's detractors would argue that over the years, Hetfield and the boys have done a more than capable job of cultivating that hate.

There are young music fans, born around the mid-1990s, who only know a world where many people have become disgusted with Metallica. The feeling has become so ubiquitous that I wonder if one day standard registration forms will include a section akin to the Wong-Baker FACES Pain Rating Scale in which applicants will be asked to select the facial expression that best describes their hatred for Metallica. I like to think that if hate for Metallica could be captured by some sort of voltaic cell, transferred to a semi-conductor, and then drawn off for external use, we could completely eliminate our country's dependence on foreign oil. As the band celebrates its 30th Anniversary this week, help us count down the band's top five most hate-inducing actions over the years.


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'James Hetfield Is a Rapper,' and Other Awesomely Blasphemous Metallica Mashups

Categories: Metallica Week

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Onemoredisco.com
One More Disco's Metallica remix contest drew intriguing entries.

See more of our Metallica Week coverage:

Metallica Brings Out Lou Reed, Kid Rock, Mercyful Fate, and More as the 30th Anniversary Party Continues

Author Brian Lew on the Early Days of Metallica and the Bay Area Thrash Metal Scene

Six Signs of Metallica's Pervasive Influence on Pop Culture

Metallica Kicks off Its 30th Anniversary Week with Notable Guests, Rare Songs, and Lots of Talking

Sad But True: How the Black Album Both Made and Ruined Metallica

Can't Make It to Metallica's 30th Anniversary Concerts? Celebrate at These Shows Instead

Maybe you wouldn't expect it, but Metallica's influence on sample-based music is vast. The band's riffs have been nicked by the likes of Eminem, Rihanna, Anthrax, Rodrigo Y Gabriela, Weird Al, Ice Cube, DJ Shadow, and Lil B, to give some idea of the huge variety we're talking about. And when the mashup craze filtered down to the YouTube level, the floodgates of Metallica hybrid tracks burst open.

Among our favorite reconstructions are selections that we're certain would make some Metallica purists want to pull their (or our) eyeballs out with one swift motion. But that's all part of the fun. As the band celebrates its 30th anniversary this week -- and with both apologies and middle fingers to the purists -- join us as we round up our favorite Metallica mashups.


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Metallica Brings Out Lou Reed, Kid Rock, Mercyful Fate, and More as the 30th Anniversary Party Continues

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Jeff Yeager
Metallica with Mercyful Fate at the FIllmore Wednesday night.

See more of our Metallica Week coverage:

Author Brian Lew on the Early Days of Metallica and the Bay Area Thrash Metal Scene

Six Signs of Metallica's Pervasive Influence on Pop Culture

Metallica Kicks off Its 30th Anniversary Week with Notable Guests, Rare Songs, and Lots of Talking

Sad But True: How the Black Album Both Made and Ruined Metallica

Can't Make It to Metallica's 30th Anniversary Concerts? Celebrate at These Shows Instead

Metallica
(plus guests)
Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2011
The Fillmore

Better than: Lulu in its entirety. Obviously.

Turns out there is one persona non grata whom even surly, drunken Metallica fans won't be nasty to in person.

His name is Lou Reed.

But then last night, during Metallica's second 30th Anniversary show at the Fillmore, the fans were warned. Before the band brought out Reed to play a couple songs off Lulu, its much-derided collaboration album with the former Velvet Underground singer, the members issued a gushing tribute to the art-punk godfather. Drummer Lars Ulrich notified the fan club-only audience that, "If you fuck with him, he will beat your ass." But it was probably Ulrich's second warning that really made the fans behave: "If you're not nice, we're gonna play the whole album, okay?"

So when Reed finally came out, looking rather tame in a fuddy-duddy leather jacket and eyeglasses, and standing several feet back from the edge of the stage, the fans were almost completely polite (and quiet). A few scattered boos rang out. But when the group leaned into "Iced Honey," the most palatable song off Lulu, the goateed heads inside the Fillmore were nodding, if not banging. Onstage, Metallica's monstrous chug nearly drowned out Reed's flat-toned mumbling, reversing the dynamic that the two collaborators have on their record. Instead of a madman rambling loudly over discordant riffage, Reed sounded like a small piece of flotsam spinning helplessly in a whirlpool of deep black power chords.


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Author Brian Lew on the Early Days of Metallica and the Bay Area Thrash Metal Scene

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Brian Lew
Cliff Burton playing live with Metallica for the first time at the Stone in San Francisco, 1983

See more of our Metallica Week coverage:

Metallica Brings Out Lou Reed, Kid Rock, Mercyful Fate, and More as the 30th Anniversary Party Continues

Six Signs of Metallica's Pervasive Influence on Pop Culture

Metallica Kicks off Its 30th Anniversary Week with Notable Guests, Rare Songs, and Lots of Talking

Sad But True: How the Black Album Both Made and Ruined Metallica

Can't Make It to Metallica's 30th Anniversary Concerts? Celebrate at These Shows Instead

From the time when Metallica first came to the Bay Area from L.A. in 1982, Brian Lew was there -- often as a friend and a fan, but also as a photographer. Lew was present at the band's first-ever show in S.F. He was there when bassist Cliff Burton played with Metallica for the first time. And he was there when Metallica made its first appearance at the iconic Day on the Green concert series at Oakland Stadium. (He was also there on Monday night, when the band began its 30th Anniversary concert series at the Fillmore.)

Lew and his friend (and fellow metal fan) Harald Oimoen recently compiled their pictures and stories from the early days of the Bay Area metal scene into a gorgeous new book, Murder in the Front Row. As part of our exploration this week into all things Metallica, we asked Lew for some of his recollections from the band's early days. Below, he talks about seeing the band for the first time, the incredible trauma that the metal community felt after Burton died in a touring bus accident at age 24, and what made the Bay Area an especially receptive place for the kind of music played by Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax, and Megadeth. Some of Lew and Oimoen's incredible early pictures of Metallica are interspersed throughout the text.

What's your backstory with the Bay Area metal scene?
Basically the whole kind of big story of the book is we were all just kids at the time. It wasn't like Metallica and Slayer and Megadeth were on tour, and we just met them. Metallica came to San Francisco to play a showcase for Metal Blade records. I arranged to meet them. I was fortunate enough to get their demo tape very early on, so I arranged to meet them in front of the Stone on Broadway, which was their first show [in S.F.]. But we were all the same age, so it wasn't like I was meeting Metallica. I was meeting a band who I wanted to meet. That was sort of the foundation of the original Bay Area metal scene.


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Six Signs of Metallica's Pervasive Influence on Pop Culture

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See more of our Metallica Week coverage:

Metallica Kicks off Its 30th Anniversary Week with Notable Guests, Rare Songs, and Lots of Talking

Sad But True: How the Black Album Both Made and Ruined Metallica

Can't Make It to Metallica's 30th Anniversary Concerts? Celebrate at These Shows Instead

Like it or not, Metallica is the biggest metal band of all time. It has gone from a niche act to an ultra-sized, all-consuming juggernaut -- an inescapable, irrepressible rock entity with the ability to draw massive crowds across the globe or pleasantly do whatever the fuck it wants. Only the likes of Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, and Guns N' Roses could conceivably challenge Metallica's throne as the biggest name in metal. But even then, for all those bands' influence, something just makes James Hetfield and co. tower over them. No other metal band has stayed so prominent within the broader culture -- or become a worthy shorthand for heavy music -- the way Metallica has.

To get an idea of Metallica's cultural influence as the band turns 30 years old this week, let's move past the standard tools used to measure success in the music biz (namely, record sales, ticket sales, and awards won) and instead consider how often Metallica has appeared or been referenced in general pop culture. Along with getting its own edition of "Guitar Hero" and being name-dropped on Murder, She Wrote, here are six curious examples of Metallica's tremendous influence on pop culture outside of heavy music.


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Sad But True: How the Black Album Both Made and Ruined Metallica

Categories: Metallica Week

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See more of our Metallica Week coverage:

Metallica Kicks off Its 30th Anniversary Week with Notable Guests, Rare Songs, and Lots of Talking

Can't Make It to Metallica's 30th Anniversary Concerts? Celebrate at These Shows Instead


Popular music is fixated with jumping-off points, springboards, acts of conception. Launch pads for particular genres or movements are recognized, studied, and then immortalized: that rec room back-to-school jam held at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx, that amplifier's tumble from the roof of a car, that itinerant musician's song at the Tutwiler, Miss., train depot. More recently, the Internet practically collapsed under the weight of all the 20th anniversary plaudits for Nirvana's recently reissued Nevermind, largely credited with triggering the seismic musical shift that was grunge.

I mention all this because lately I've been thinking about Metallica -- a little bit about the group's collaboration with Lou Reed producing a 19-minute track when I thought only Joanna Newsom was allowed to get away with such nonsense, and a little bit about the first music awards mishap where some microphone-thrusting, red-carpet troll mistakes Lars Ulrich for Moby. But mostly I've been thinking about Metallica's landmark self-titled release and why its 20th birthday drew a ho-hum response from those individuals whose primary function in life is to get wet-your-pants giddy about these sorts of things.

Now, the collective indifference is certainly not from a lack of pretty facts and figures: 15 million copies sold in the U.S. (comparatively, Nevermind has moved 10 million units), three singles that cracked the Billboard Top 40, a two-year support tour featuring over 300 shows in 37 countries. Metallica outsold every rock LP in what was essentially the music industry's steroid era -- an era when Diamond-certified albums were dropping at the rate of one every three months. (Since 1967, 107 LPs have sold 10 million copies or more; 43 were released in the 1990s.) This is a wildly impressive feat.

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Metallica Kicks off Its 30th Anniversary Week with Notable Guests, Rare Songs, and Lots of Talking

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Metallica at the Fillmore on Monday night, with former bassist Jason Newsted in the background.

See more of our Metallica Week coverage:

Sad But True: How the Black Album Both Made and Ruined Metallica

Can't Make It to Metallica's 30th Anniversary Concerts? Celebrate at These Shows Instead

Metallica
(Plus guests)
Dec. 5, 2011
The Fillmore

Better than: What would've happened if Garage Days and Some Kind of Anger were part of the same project.

All this week, Metallica is celebrating 30 years of being the Bay Area's premier purveyor of headbang-inducing thrash metal with a special series of fan-club-only shows at the Filllmore. Last night, the first show of the series more or less lived up to its for-the-obsessives billing: It was three hours of trivia, nostalgia, and cover bands, capped by another three hours of Metallica doling out its trademark brutality -- plus lots of chatter -- alongside a roster of guests that included former bassist Jason Newsted, the cello metal group Apocalyptica, and members of Metallica-influencing British heavy metal bands like Diamond Head and Saxon.


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We're Celebrating Metallica's 30th Anniversary All This Week

Categories: Metallica Week

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Metallica fans lined up outside the Fillmore on Monday afternoon.

See also:

We're Looking for a Few Metallica Superfans in the Bay Area -- Are You One?

Can't Make It to Metallica's 30th Anniversary Concerts? Celebrate at These Shows Instead

All this week, we're excited to bring you special coverage of Metallica's 30th Anniversary here on All Shook Down.

Why Metallica? Because it is in many ways the biggest local rock band of the last 30 years. Because it grew out of an early-'80s thrash metal scene that was unique to the Bay Area. Because its members have long called S.F. or the Bay Area home, after moving here from places like L.A. and Denmark. Because three decades in, no matter how it may irk fans and haters, Metallica is still doing crazy things like making an art-metal album with Lou Reed. And because fuck it -- we like Metallica.

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