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Metallica- Slayer- Megadeth- Anthrax: The Big Four Live from Sofia, Bulgaria

by Kevin Wierzbicki

For the first time ever! The "Big Four" of thrash metal appearing together on one stage! There's no doubt that it was a historic and exciting occurrence last June when Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax appeared on the same bill for a brief tour of Europe. Exciting, at least, for the hordes that were there; the buzz does not really translate to the footage contained on this 2 DVD set. That's not to say that each of the thrash kings don't put on a good show, it's just that there is nothing spectacular here. Anthrax kicks off the all-day show, appropriately enough with one of thrash metal's early anthems, "Caught in a Mosh." Joey Belladonna is back fronting the band and although he looks a little wizened he turns in a strong vocal performance, rumbling through "Antisocial," "Medusa," "I Am the Law" and a tribute to Ronnie James Dio consisting of a medley of "Indians" from the Among the Living album and "Heaven and Hell" from the Dio-led Black Sabbath album of the same name. The heavens open up, literally, when Megadeth takes the stage as a huge thunderhead releases its contents just as Dave Mustaine hits the initial chords of "Holy Wars…The Punishment Due." The crowd gets soaked but their spirits are not sodden as Megadeth runs through a set that includes Rust in Peace favorite "Hangar 18," "Hook in Mouth," "Head Crusher" and a crowd-rousing take on melodic rocker "A Tout Le Monde." Always respected as the big daddies of thrash, Slayer opens with "World Painted Blood" while fog machines and red spotlights combine to bathe the stage in ethereal blood. It is just starting to get dark when Slayer plays so the effect is basically the first that the crowd has seen all day. Slayer doesn't mess around as they play a set mostly consisting of two songs apiece from South of Heaven, Reign in Blood, World Painted Blood and Seasons in the Abyss; in fact none of the bands add too much tomfoolery to their show, instead choosing to concentrate on musicianship. The last of the veteran bands to hit the stage, Metallica, plays a set twice as long as any of the others but again, even though they demonstrate fine musicianship, they fail to generate any sparks until the show's close. As the group finishes "Nothing Else Matters" guitarist James Hetfield drops to his knees and sustains the song's last note for what seems like eternity before the band joins back in, lurching into "Enter Sandman." After that comes the moment the crowd had been drooling for---all seventeen members of the Big Four on stage for an impressive version of Diamond Head's "Am I Evil." But alas the big finish is just the one song and Metallica sends the crowd home happy with a two-spot from 1983's Kill 'Em All; "Hit the Lights" and "Seek and Destroy." If you want to watch this film all the way through, including the backstage footage, plan on spending about five hours in front of the tube.



Boxset 5 cd/2dvd

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Metallica- Slayer- Megadeth- Anthrax: The Big Four Live from Sofia, Bulgaria

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