Metallica

support Slayer + Mastodon + Gojira + Ghost
author PP date 03/06/14 venue Fængslet, Horsens, DEN

It's good to see Metallica back in business. After a lengthy period with few shows in Scandinavia, the kings of arena metal have visited the Danish shores at least four times in the last five years if my memory holds right. Most of these have been solid, if not outright spectacular shows (such as their Roskilde Festival performance last year), so expectations are understandably high tonight for their fan-voted Metallica 'By Request' show. Prior to each date on this tour, fans were able to determine the entire setlist by voting online in their country of attendance. For Denmark, this meant more of a classic Metallica setlist with a thorough exploration of the band's biggest hits, whereas many other countries opted for rarities instead. For a 30-something thousand crowd present tonight for the 'Jailhouse Rock Festival' (a fitting name to the venue, which is an old, restored prison in Horsens), this blend was perfectly suitable though and good times were had by all in the end, especially given the strong supporting cast tonight. Sadly, the support started already at 16:30, which meant there was no chance for myself (PP) and our photographer Peter Troest to make it for the first two bands. Alas, you have reviews by AP instead but no photos.

Ghost

Tasked with the ritual of opening the proceedings today is the enigmatic Ghost - a Swedish satanic pop act whose members' (Papa Emeritus II & the Nameless Ghouls) identities remain undisclosed to this day. Imagine ABBA dressed in demonic garb, corpse paint and so forth, with a slightly heavier foundation, and you've got a pretty solid impression of what Ghost sound like: synth backed, anonymous rock where the only point of intrigue is the band's visual aesthetic; and whose sole reason for success is the willingness of a disproportionate amount of people to buy into the gimmick. Listening to songs like "Year Zero", "Stand by Him" and "Monstrance Clock", I cannot help but think any of these tracks could have swept the competition under the carpet at the 2006 edition of Eurovision had Lordi not killed the theatre rock novelty at that contest with their infamous "Hard Rock Hallelujah". There is something thoroughly absurd about watching the anti-pope Papa Emeritus II softly croon these simple pop songs with his face painted as a skull, and wearing black and red papal dress, and although I will not deny the accessibility or catchiness of the material, this is not music that will ever interest me, I fear. The almost certain use of overdubbing and backing track does little to improve my impression of their integrity, but even so they perform in a manner professional enough to at least warrant them the title of a very decent live band.

6
AP

Gojira

Following the bizarre opening ceremony, Gojira make their presence known in explosive fashion, punching our teeth in with… you guessed it, the monolithically heavy "Explosia" off the Frenchmen's latest offering "L'Enfant Sauvage" (2012). The quality of the sound mix is perhaps not as uncanny as Ghost had the privilege of (and the wind does nothing to help), but the volume is suitably high for the earth rattling nature of songs like "Backbone", "The Heaviest Matter of the Universe" and "L'Enfant Sauvage"; and during the live staple "Flying Whales", bassist Jean-Michel Labadie and guitarist Christian Andreu do their utmost to flash their assortment of live moves, flying (as the title of the song demands) across the stage whilst swinging their instruments in frenzied fashion. I maintain that Gojira are a band best experienced either in a medium size club venue, or in total darkness on a stage of this magnitude, so for me tonight's concert never breaches into grandeur. But even so, the delivery of the crushing "Toxic Garbage Island" as the conclusion is as convincing as they come, even if the motley crew of Sunday metal fans gathered here to drink beer and roar "Obey your master!" does little to show any enthusiasm comparable to Gojira's own.

7
AP

Mastodon - or is it SAYLER?

Mastodon

One of the bands Roskilde's forward-thinking music bookers were right about for once is Mastodon. The progressive metal giants have long sailed seas of their own with a unique blend of psychedelia, progressive song structures, metal, and rock with few imitators out there capable of doing the same. Tonight, they kick off with "Black Tongue" and the first words I jot down in my notes are "progressive riffage designed for head banging", because that's what the Mastodon set is all about. Mind-blowing instrumentals offset some of the lackluster movement on stage as the band perform cuts that are clearly designed for big stages such as this one, rather than small club venues. Their guitarist - the one who looks a bit like Alan from Hangover while looking extremely uncomfortable on stage throughout the show as if he needs to go number two really bad - is wearing a sailor hat that says 'SAYLER' with the classic Slayer font, which amuses the crowd the moment the big screens pan on him. Otherwise, the crowd seems lukewarm for Mastodon, which can probably be explained by them being the most complex and challenging musical act on the billing tonight. The lengthy instrumental sessions see the band spread across the entirety of the massive stage to deliver their great melodies closer up to the crowd, so that everyone can witness the sublime fretwork that's taking place in front of them. Still, the complete lack of crowd interaction means their set feels merely solid without being mesmerizing, even as the extremely groovy and fast-paced "Aqua Dementia" ends their set on a high note.

8
pp

Mastodon setlist:

  • 1. Black Tongue
  • 2. Divinations
  • 3. Crystal Skull
  • 4. Megalodon
  • 5. Oblivion
  • 6. Blasteroid
  • 7. Chimes at Midnight
  • 8. High Road
  • 9. Bedazzled Fingernails
  • 10. Aqua Dementia

Slayer

Slayer

Let's face it: the screeching, visceral solos that Slayer delivers song after song on any given night are some of the best, most metal sounding solos out there. They may all sound similar, but they also sound evil and exactly how I want my metal solos delivered day in, day out. Here, on the huge stage at Horsens, they are loud as fuck and echo across the spacious surroundings, complementing Tom Araya's manic yell perfectly throughout the show. Say what you want about Slayer, but nobody else can scream like Tom Araya at his best when he lets his anger explode out of his throat in those enormous, back-chilling roars that feature in many of their best songs. The intro to "Dead Skin Mask" is one of those moments. The crowd, being of the older variety, is clearly into it with sets of horns and fists in the air everywhere, and the band are milking every bit of that attention on stage. Kerry King casually travels the stage to get nearer the crowd to head bang towards distinct sections of the audience to keep them amped up, and even Araya shows some movement whenever he isn't busy yelling our ears deaf on stage. Still, you can discuss the setlist which feels sub par tonight compared to what I remember from their Store Vega show last year, but yet when the band drops down yet another banner showcasing the now tried-and-tested Hanneman tribute in the form of a Heineken logo for set closer "Angel Of Death", I can't help but feel satisfied over the tight thrash metal assault that Slayer delivers whenever they play.

PP

Slayer setlist:

  • 1. World Painted Blood
  • 2. Hate Worldwide
  • 3. Necrophiliac
  • 4. Mandatory Suicide
  • 5. Captor of Sin
  • 6. War Ensemble
  • 7. Disciple
  • 8. Seasons in the Abyss
  • 9. Dead Skin Mask
  • 10. Raining Blood
  • 11. Black Magic
  • 12. South of Heaven
  • 13. Angel of Death

Metallica

Metallica

Ok, so Metallica wants to wait until it gets a little darker so they can showcase their laser show in its full glory. I get that. But tonight, starting 25 minutes late means us Copenhageners are getting home at an absurdly late time, and I feel like the band could've easily started at 9pm instead of letting us wait till the official starting time of 21:30, which ended up being pushed to 21:55 or so before the band finally got on stage. When they finally enter stage, though, they do so with an introductory video on both screens explaining the Metallica By Request concept, accompanied by the orchestral "The Ecstasy Of Gold" introduction on the background. That stage, by the way, features a circular extension that allows the band to walk into the front crowds at their leisure, which is a cool addition because it allows them to get real up close with the enormous crowd. There's a special 'snake pit' in front designated just for this, for which you must have a special wristband to get access to. These were handed out fairly liberally in the crowd considering one of our friends at the back somehow got a hold of two wristbands, or maybe he just got lucky, I don't know. Either way, standing up there in the middle was an amazing experience from what I heard, but even for the rest of the crowd seeing Hetfield & co casually walk around and play solos basically amongst the crowd was what only colossal rock stars should do.

Metallica

The band kick off with "Battery" followed by "Master Of Puppets" straight away. Here, the people are humming along to the guitars during the instrumentals, and of course delivering a huge sing along to pretty much every vocal line in the song. "Ride The Lightning" receives a much milder response on the other hand in what seems to be the theme of the day: the band are playing their all-star lineup of hit songs only, yet the sing along only half way into the crowd is a little bit disappointing. Blame it on a Tuesday night show, I guess. "The Unforgiven" at least gets a proper response - and here the giant video screens behind the band display a black and white pre-recorded movie. Afterwards we get a taster of what a new Metallica song sounds like with "Lords Of Summer", which was written specifically for this summer tour as James tells us, but I have to admit it felt a little forgettable on first listen. Let's wait with judgment til later, though.

Metallica

Soon after, a random Copenhagen fan girl is brought on stage to introduce "Sad But True", and later a male equivalent does the same for "Whiskey In The Jar". This felt a little too rehearsed and scripted in my opinion, although the interaction between the band and the two crowd members seemed genuine enough. One bass solo later, Hetfield takes position above the drummer (they have a triangular stage setup with elevated platforms they can walk up to), where an acoustic guitar has been attached for "Fade To Black". James switches between acoustic/electric setup for the duration of the show, which is a nice touch because he could've just let one of them be playback, but then again, these are real rock star musicians we are talking about. They'd never consent to that.

By the time we reach "One" darkness has fallen over Horsens, which is the kick off for one of the most spectacular laser light shows I've ever seen. Sharp, multi-colored lasers don't just randomly intersect each other, but create shapes, forms, and images above us in what is a breathtaking showcase of what modern technology is capable off creating in 3D. Yes, they did this at Roskilde as well, but it was far more bewildering and clear this time around. The effect is made even more profound by the video of soldiers marching on the background, that adds yet another element into multifaceted arena style entertainment that is simultaneously synchronized to the riffs and blast beats in the song.

Metallica

Throughout the evening the band have been talking to the crowd in a humorous, very down-to-earth manner, with Hetfield firing off a few jokes like shouting random things at the crowd just to see if they would repeat it. The interaction is entertaining all night, especially because the fans are voting for the final song between "Blackened", "Harvester Of Sorrow" and "Creeping Death" throughout the evening, and every few songs Hetfield keeps checking the score and encouraging us to vote more to make a final decision. In the end, the song choice of the night is "Creeping Death", which is slightly disappointing as I was hoping to see "Harvester Of Sorrow" myself, but the popular vote wins I guess. Just before that, Hetfield shouts "I've been waiting to play this song for a while!!" right after the encore, because they're about to play "St. Anger", which nobody imagined would've been on a Metallica setlist in 2014. Here it is, though, and it sounds pretty good all things considered. Finally, Hetfield tells us he wants to play us one more song, which is predictably "Seek & Destroy", concluding an event of epic proportions, where five among the most interesting/popular bands in metal have delivered solid performances in front of an enormous crowd, with the Metallica hit parade concluding it all in the end. Yes, it could've been interesting to hear songs like "Fixxxer", "Damage Inc.", "Fuel", "The Call Of Ktulu", or even "Turn The Page", but I'll accept the setlist below. Look at this in a few years time and tell me you wouldn't want to watch that.

PP

Metallica setlist:

  • 1. The Ecstasy of Gold
  • 2. Battery
  • 3. Master of Puppets
  • 4. Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
  • 5. Ride the Lightning
  • 6. The Unforgiven
  • 7. Lords of Summer
  • 8. Wherever I May Roam
  • 9. Sad but True
  • 10. Fade to Black
  • 11. ...And Justice for All
  • 12. One
  • 13. For Whom the Bell Tolls
  • 14. Whiskey in the Jar
  • 15. Nothing Else Matters
  • 16. Enter Sandman
  • --Encore:--
  • 17. St. Anger
  • 18. Creeping Death
  • 19. Seek & Destroy

Photos by: Peter Troest

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