I had the privilege of seeing Metallica at their show this past summer at Soldier Field. I went with my brother, and my dad drove us into downtown Chicago, stayed in the hotel while we were at the show, and then drove us back the next morning. This also happened to be on Father's Day. My brother and I felt so bad that we bought my dad a card apologizing for what a pain in the ass we were (and still are) and bought him dinner. My dad also drove me into Chicago to see Megadeth and a bunch of openers at the Aragon Ballroom a few years ago and read a book in a Starbucks for about five hours while I was at the show. I don't why he was crazy enough to do any of that, but because of him, I got to see two of the best shows of my life. So, dad, thanks for putting up with me finding shows that are in the most inconvenient locations possible and thank you for being so willing to make sure I'm happy.
I had been anticipating this show for so long. The instant Metallica announced their first album in eight years, I knew a tour had to be coming. So every day, I waited for that tour to be announced so I could hop on tickets right away. In the mean time, I listened to every single Metallica album so I would know all the lyrics so I could scream at the top of my lungs with James Hetfield on every song. I was certain that he would be able to distinguish my voice from the 60,000+ other fans at the show, but looking back now, that may have been a bit of a lofty goal. The new album, "Hardwired... to Self-Destruct" came out in November of 2016, and I knew it was only a matter of time before the tour was announced. A few months later, Metallica announces a huge North American tour. Tickets were going on sale a few days later and I knew I had to get some. Usually, my mom gets the tickets for shows I go to because she is the world's greatest ticket buyer. Seriously, I don't know how she does it, but she is able to scoop up tickets right when they go on sale with no problem. Well, the day tickets were going on sale, she happened to be at work, so it was up to me to grab the tickets. So I logged on to Ticketmaster once the sale started, and to my surprise, I found tickets right away. These seats were pretty far back though, so I tested my luck to get closer, and I ended up finding closer tickets. At this point, I got cocky and tried one more time, but then the site said it couldn't process my request, and it kept saying it no matter how many times I refreshed the page. So now I'm freaking out because all the tickets are going to get bought up and be resold for an absurd amount of money. So I call my mom in a panic while she's at work and ask if she can try because I messed up and she tells me she will try her best. Five minutes later, I get a text from her telling me what section, row, and seats my tickets are in. I've got the most clutch parents on Earth.
The show was absolutely incredible. Before the first song, they always play a clip from the renowned film "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" where Ennio Morricone's famous composition "The Ecstasy of Gold" plays. So I'm singing along with the chant like every other fan in the stadium and then the intro to their first song on the new album, "Hardwired," begins to play. I took video of this moment because I knew this would be something I would want to see for the rest of my life. The instant Metallica hit their first note, my legs literally started shaking because of how excited I was, so my video is basically useless. Nonetheless, I was enjoying every moment. I was surrounded by people who love what I love which is such a great feeling. Everyone in that stadium was headbanging together, putting up devil horns, and collectively having their faces melted. I was playing air guitar and singing with complete strangers but it felt so normal. It was just like being a part of one giant family. Before the show, I was talking to people near me about our favorite Metallica songs, our favorite bands, and one guy even complimented my patch jacket which made my day. And of course, Metallica absolutely killed it. They were on top of every song and blew everyone away with their stage presence. Rob Trujillo did his famous crab walk during "For Whom the Bell Tolls," the band got the whole crowd singing the classical guitar intro to "Battery," and they shot off enough fireworks after "Enter Sandman" to make a Fourth of July show jealous.
Metallica is my second favorite band of all time. I used to be in the "Megadeth is better" camp, but that changed when I spent time really listening to each Metallica album, and the on that finally pushed me over the edge was "...And Justice for All." This album gets a lot of hate because the bass is essentially nonexistent. While that is true, the masterful songwriting negates that one flaw. Everything else about it make it the perfect thrash metal album. This is easily Metallica's most darkest, most aggressive work. Just listen to "One" and "Dyers Eve." "One" is probably the darkest song they've ever written. Just watch the music video, it's the stuff of nightmares. "Dyers Eve" is played blazing fast all the way through while James growls his way through lyrics about a difficult childhood. Not only is the music fast and loud as one would expect, but the songs are also the most complex they have ever written. In a list of the top ten hardest Metallica songs to play on guitar by ultimateguitar.com, three songs from this album were featured, including "The Frayed Ends of Sanity," "Blackened," and "Dyers Eve." I would argue that the title track and "One" should be on there as well. The clean guitar tones throughout the album are so melodic, composed like a symphony, yet they quickly transcend into a frenzy of notes at a moment's notice. However, it's not just mindless filler. It's filled with anger, fury, and despair. Plenty of people say shredding has no emotion. I say listen to this album and try to tell me otherwise. People also give Lars Ulrich crap because they say he's not a great drummer. While his playing has regressed with age (which is understandable), listen to his drumming on any of these songs. "...And Justice for All" has some of the greatest double bass pedal work of any album I've ever heard, and even when he's playing simple beats, he's playing a variety of poly rhythms so it's never quite what you expect.
Metallica is one of those bands where I understand if you don't like them. Not everyone likes metal, but you at least have to appreciate and respect the talent, influence, and dedication they've had over the past 35 years. Normally, I put one video at the end of these posts, but I'm going to add an extra one here. Metallica is kind enough to record high quality video and audio of every single show they play now, so I am going to include one video of "Blackened" performed in Seattle on the "...And Justice for All" tour in 1989, and one video of "Battery" performed at the show I attended so you can see how incredible the band remains to this day.