~ Reviewed by Mozzy/Martin
The Big Four
Prague (Milovice Airport), Czech Republic
June 19, 2010
For a fan of early thrash metal, seeing The Big
Four - Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax - together live was always
a wet dream, but one that looked all but impossible considering the history
and the not so friendly atmosphere that has persisted between some of
the bands during the years. When the rumours regarding a possible tour
started appearing, one did not dare believe that they were true. But when
the announcement finally came that the tour was actually in the pipeline,
it had metalheads all over the world salivating and leaping with joy.
Without any hesitation, two of your humble Metal Covenant staff, Martin
and Mozzy, duly booked a trip to Prague and the Sonisphere Festival -
also featuring other quality groups (clashes prevented more reviews) -
in order to witness the historic event.
Band: Panic Cell
~ By Martin
No, no, no - this is not a good start to the day. Sounding like a bad
copy of Soilwork, British Panic Cell soon have to succumb to bad audience-pleasing
by asking the crowd to scream "hell yeah", "fuck yeah"
and "motherfucker". It does not help if you don't have good
songs - and those lines are really so cheesy to begin with that I cringe.
2 chalices of 10
(sorry, no setlist)
~ By Martin
You really have to hand DevilDriver one thing - they sure can ignite a
crowd! The circle pit is absolutely huge, and most of the time during
the band's concert, the audience is going bezerk. I freely admit that
I don't have the best grip of the band's music - but I still get a bit
riled up about just how good this band is at performing. Having a ton
of confidence the band comes out fighting - supercharged to the max. Singer
Dez Farfara has a very commanding way about him - and he expects the crowd
to follow his lead to the point - a fact that gets me thinking that if
this band is given more stage time than 45 minutes there would not be
many standing in the audience after the band was done!
6 chalices of 10
(sorry, no setlist)
Time: 16:15 - 17:15
~ By Mozzy
When Joey Belladonna yells out to the crowd, "Are you ready for a
thrash afternoon?", the response is a loud one. Hearing the vocalist
of one the bands representing the so called "Big Four" putting
words on it, the weight of what's in store hits home with a marvellous
feeling. Just seeing Anthrax, an influential band of their own, is great.
And since it is Joey Belladonna who is handling the vocals, further excitement
is generated, as he was Anthrax's frontman during the thrash golden era.
It is sure nice to see Belladonna back in the fold, charging the stage
and stirring on the crowd. As for his vocals, he plays it safe most of
the time, mostly staying in the middle-range, although he delivers a few
The opening is indeed a lesson in Anthrax thrash classics, with Caught
In A Mosh, Got The Time and Madhouse as the first three numbers. Sadly,
the guitar sound is anything but crisp, which harms the impact of not
only the riffing but the melodies as well. Also, the songs are played
at a tad slower pace, taking off a bit of the edge. Moreover, the audience
is quite reserved, leaving one to speculate whether Anthrax's material
really is that well-known in this area of Europe.
During Indians, Ronnie James Dio, a dear friend of the band, is saluted
with a short rendition of Heaven And Hell. This gesture goes down brilliantly
with the crowd and is a moving tribute to the great man who originally
was scheduled to play at the festival with the band named after said song.
This also seems to get the punters going, as the singalong to the recognisable
melody of next song, Be All End All, is quite impressive.
By the time another old gem, Medusa, is played the sound has improved
and the last part of the set is very enjoyable. We get a treat when Only,
a song originally sung by John Bush, is performed. Admittedly, it feels
quite unusual hearing Belladonna singing on it, but he does an ok job.
Rounding off their set, Anthrax deliver awesome versions of the rousing
anthem Metal Thrashing Mad and one of their true staples, I Am The Law.
This is no less than a pleasurable performance by Anthrax, but it is clear
there is room for improvement.
6,5 chalices of 10
Caught In A Mosh
Got The Time
Indians (incl. segment of Heaven And Hell)
Be All End All
Metal Thrashing Mad
I Am The Law
~ By Martin
Considering that it is 20 years since the classic "Rust In Peace"
came out, there are quite a few in the audience, including yours truly,
hoping that Megadeth will play the album in its entirety. At this the
band disappoints, but not in other aspects. Not the most cheerful of frontmen,
Dave Mustaine simply walks onto Apollo Stage - and opens with the scorching
riff of Holy Wars. Given just how awesome that song is, it's no surprise
that the crowd goes absolutely bananas, especially as the band is sounding
Having a guitarist of Chris Broderick's calibre, a guitarist absolutely
flawless, has given Megadeth its strongest line-up in years, and Shawn
Drover behind the drums isn't a fluke either, especially since he is playing
very much in sync with returned bassist Dave Ellefson.
Pummelling the crap out of second number Hangar 18, that song vividly
displays two things: Mustaine, for all his weaknesses, is an accomplished
songwriter, and secondly, he displays some serious chops on the guitar.
Good lord - the final minutes of the song is just sheer joy as far as
I'm concerned. But then the dream to hear Rust In Peace is shattered as
Megadeth plays Wake Up Dead, but after getting over the little disappointment
that I am denied this treat, Megadeth still have some kick-ass songs.
And boy do they show it!
Headcrusher's fantastic energy gets the crowd going - and the transition
into In My Darkest Hour sends shivers down my spine. That song's heaviness
is something I've appreciated since the first time I heard it, and it's
a song to which Mustaine's voice is perfectly suited. Although he isn't
the best singer in the world, his voice has a uniqueness about it, and
in an odd way it works. Megadeth deliver a good show, and although I would
have liked to have heard some more of the band's old songs, the band totally
kicks ass when it comes to playing their instruments.
7 chalices of 10
Holy Wars...The Punishment Due
Wake Up Dead
In My Darkest Hour
Skin O'My Teeth
A Tout Le Monde
Hook In Mouth
Symphony Of Destruction
Band: Alice In Chains
Time: 19:15 - 20:30
~ By Mozzy
There are certainly those who would have wanted to witness the big four
of thrash performing after each other. Although that would have been a
treat in itself, perhaps the idea to schedule a band in between to break
up the thrash throttle a bit is not a bad idea. Also, that this band is
Alice In Chains is rather fitting, as they supported Anthrax, Megadeth
and Slayer on the legendary Clash Of The Titans tour. In addition, they
are close friends with the Metallica guys, also having played with them
many times. This being a festival performance, the emphasis is, understandably,
on the old material.
Needless to say, it is a pleasure to hear tunes like Them Bones, We Die
Young and Would. At the same time, the three songs from last year's brilliant
comeback album Black Gives Way To Blue sit splendidly along the old favourites.
Fact is, Lesson Learned is one of the highlights of the set, with great
harmony vocals from William Duvall and Jerry Cantrell.
Duvall shows once again that he is a terrific singer and a very competent
frontman too, displaying charisma and making good use of the stage. The
Seattle pioneers are also blessed with arguably the best sound of the
night aside from the headliners, aiding especially the superb bass lines
courtesy of Mike Inez. The loss of original vocalist Layne Staley is still
a thorn for the band, but while the past will never be forgotten, their
resurrection has been remarkable, proving that they are just as relevant
and genuine a band now.
Simply put, this incarnation of Alice In Chains is an awesome band. This
they have proved on record and it is most apparent when they perform live
7 chalices of 10
It Ain´t Like That
Check My Brain
Dam That River
Rain When I Die
We Die Young
Man In The Box
~ By Martin
Slayer is one of my favourite bands of all time. Ever since I heard Angel
Of Death many years ago I have been awed so many times by this band. Regardless
of the fact that the band's heyday is over, they still have a fantastic
array of songs that haven't lost their magic. The return of original drummer
Dave Lombardo was a very big thing in my book and although I think that
Paul Bostaph filled the chair admirably, Lombardo has a higher degree
of originality in his playing than Bostaph. Slayer's concert this night
proves that he still has it.
For those of you dear readers that have seen Slayer, you know that they
aren't the most visually entertaining band on the scene - to put it mildly.
Kerry King walks from one place to another, bangs his head for a while,
then repeats the pattern. Jeff Hanneman basically stays firmly rooted
at his preferred spot on the right side of the stage, while Tom Araya,
having recently undergone surgery, is forced to nod along gently instead
of furiously banging his head. This of course makes Lombardo the focal
point of attention - and he's in one hell of a playful mood.
Although the band plays the mandatory three songs off their newest record,
World Painted Blood, Beauty Through Order and Hate Worldwide, it's only
logical that the loudest cheers go to the old material. From Disciple
to the end of the show, Slayer proves once again that although they aren't
the most visual band on the planet they have the songs to totally obliterate
an audience. Just looking at the setlist makes me smile.
The only thing that disturbs me is that Hanneman isn't putting much dedication
into his playing, and my guitar-playing friends remark that he isn't playing
his solos the way that they should be played. It isn't to much to demand
that you do this, and the more often than before heard rumour that Slayer
aren't going to be around for much longer pops into my head - and it saddens
me to see that Hanneman, based on this night's performance, already has
his mind on other things.
Based on the songs and the powerhouse that is Lombardo, Slayer still,
in spite of Hanneman's playing, gives by far the best concert of the night
and if the rest of the band had performed on par with Lombardo, I would
seriously have been forced to bring out a higher grade.
8 chalices of 10
World Painted Blood
Beauty Through Order
Seasons In The Abyss
Angel Of Death
~ By Martin
Being by far the most-selling act of the day, it's no surprise that Metallica
is headlining the event. And they do so in such a way that my head spins
looking at my notes from the evening. Opening with Creeping Death along
with four other songs from the band's pre-Black Album era, is a powerful
point that the concert's focus is on the older material - which is perfectly
fine with me. The singing from the crowd is fantastic from the get go
and hearing a song like Disposable Heroes live for the first time is just
After that opening it's not surprising that the energy level drops considerably
when That Was Just Your Life and Cyanide is played by the band. Throughout
the evening the newer material, especially that from "Death Magnetic",
receives a much less enthusiastic response from the audience, and I'm
not sure if this has an effect on the band, but this material is played
with much less conviction. Although I can perfectly understand Metallica's
will to play these songs, I wouldn't be surprised if none objected to
the band simply dropping these songs, or indeed material post-Black Album
Sad But True and Welcome Home (Sanitarium) bring back the fantastic atmosphere
- especially the latter gets the crowd going - and remarkably the band
manages to keep the energy going even through My Apocalypse, much to the
credit of the song being one of the most aggressive songs off Death Magnetic.
The rest of Metallica's concert is, with the exception of two factors,
pure bliss. The first factor being Lars Ulrich's pathetic playing in One,
which he almost totally botches. The drummer's playing ability is, in
comparison to the rest of the band, considerably lower, and I'm getting
tired of his sloppy playing. To actually practise is not too much to ask
- if nothing else to show due respect for the music and the audience.
The other factor is a lesser one - playing Nothing Else Matters, a song
I easily could have been without, even though the band delivers a good
The finale of the show is, in spite of my remarks, very strong. I especially
like the fact that Metallica ends the show with some very old material
- material that is played with conviction and joy. Metallica gives a good
show this night, much to the credit of James Hetfield, who still has a
very commanding stage presence - and who has written some excellent music
over the years to say the least.
7 chalices of 10
For Whom The Bell Tolls
Harvester Of Sorrow
Fade To Black
That Was Just Your Life
Sad But True
Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
Master Of Puppets
Nothing Else Matters
Seek And Destroy
While the different editions of the
Sonisphere festival all have very strong line-ups, this particular one
in Prague - one of the dates featuring the Big Four - was certainly special.
It was simply amazing to see the Big Four of thrash metal on the same
day. Also, an overall good sound and a fantastic efficiency changing the
backline between the bands shows that the people behind the festival really
know what they are doing. Wonderful weather and a nice, friendly festival
area added to this being an awesome day.
It will now be interesting to see
if this phenomenal event - the Big Four live - expands further, with more
dates in more areas of the world. Regardless of what will happen, we Metal
Covenant correspondents consider ourselves very happy and fortunate to
have experienced this. Caring individuals as we are however, let's hope
that many more metalheads get the opportunity to see Metallica, Slayer,
Megadeth and Anthrax playing the same stage together. Writing that very
sentence, one realises that it actually was a dream which came true!