Metallica is gearing up for a historic performance as the “first hard rock band” to grace the stage at the MDLBeast’s Soundstorm Festival in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. This groundbreaking event is scheduled to take place on December 14, 2023, marking the band’s final performance of the year and a significant milestone in their illustrious career.
The announcement, shared on Metallica’s official Facebook page, expresses the band’s excitement about the unique opportunity to play in a part of the world they rarely visit. The festival lineup boasts an eclectic mix of genres, featuring renowned artists like the Black Eyed Peas, Calvin Harris, David Guetta, and more, aligning with the festival’s diverse musical offerings.
Reflecting on their journey, Metallica acknowledges the global tour supporting their latest studio album, 72 Seasons, released in April of the same year. The album has propelled them to various corners of the world, and the upcoming performance in Saudi Arabia is a fitting conclusion to this chapter.
This venture into the Middle East aligns with a trend of expanding the heavy metal genre’s presence in Saudi Arabia. The announcement also highlights the performance of Saudi melodic death metal band, Immortal Pain, at Comic Con Arabia in 2022, illustrating the growing acceptance and interest in diverse musical genres within the region.
In a broader context, the Soundstorm Festival, organized by Saudi music giants MDLBEAST, has become a prominent platform attracting some of the biggest acts globally since its inception in 2019. The festival site spans over five and a half million square meters, providing an immersive experience for the over 600,000 attendees reported at the previous year’s event.
Metallica’s decision to perform in Saudi Arabia echoes their commitment to pushing boundaries and reaching audiences in regions where their genre might not be mainstream. This aligns with their past experiences, such as their Middle East live debut in Abu Dhabi in 2011, where drummer Lars Ulrich expressed the magical experience of connecting with diverse audiences.
As Metallica prepares for this historic performance, they anticipate not only delivering a memorable show but also contributing to the evolving landscape of music in the Middle East. The convergence of different musical styles and the emergence of local metal scenes, as exemplified by bands like Immortal Pain and Creative Waste, indicate a promising future for the metal genre in Saudi Arabia and the broader Middle East.
Metallica is making headlines with the release of their 11th studio album, “72 Seasons,” a return to the thrash metal roots that solidified their place in the music industry. The album, described as a seamless extension of their sound established on “Hardwired…,” has garnered a mixed but generally positive reception from fans and critics alike.
The title track sets the tone with a rhyme scheme that echoes the band’s unapologetic and intense approach. Metallica, now in their sixties, has embraced their age while delivering a solidly compelling thrash metal experience. The band’s frontman, James Hetfield, screams hyperbolic lyrics that touch on themes of childhood, nostalgia, and self-discovery. The album’s title, “72 Seasons,” refers to the first 18 years of one’s life, prompting contemplation on personal growth and identity.
“If Darkness had a Son” stands out with Hetfield’s call to nascent goths, encouraging them to embrace a dark aesthetic. The lyrics navigate the waves of power chords and squalling leads, addressing addiction issues and seeking redemption through “holy water,” which, amusingly, is now represented by Earl Grey tea according to recent reports.
“Lux Aeterna” celebrates the communion of live gigs and encourages listeners to cast out the demons that strangle their lives, capturing the essence of sonic salvation. Meanwhile, “Screaming Suicide” delves into therapy speak, exploring the consequences of internalized blame. The album reaches its peak with the 11-minute, Black Sabbath-indebted monster track, “Inamorata,” offering a glimmer of lyrical hope amid the gloom.
The album has been reviewed by various critics, with one notable review on April 13, 2023, praising the nostalgic elements that resonate with listeners. The reviewer emphasizes the album’s seamless extension of the sound established on “Hardwired…” while incorporating influences from 90s alternative metal, desert rock, and even a touch of psychedelic doom. “Crown of Barbed Wire” is highlighted as Metallica’s best song in years, featuring a blend of solid groove, compelling riffs, proggy bass-driven sections, and a standout guitar solo.
However, the review doesn’t shy away from addressing some issues, including the album’s length and repetition. While acknowledging the impact of nostalgia on Metallica’s modern releases, the reviewer emphasizes that “72 Seasons” delivers the iconic elements fans expect, including James Hetfield’s voice and rhythm playing, Lars Ulrich’s self-taught percussion style, Kirk Hammett’s wah-wah-infused solos, and Robert Trujillo’s solid bass lines.
In conclusion, Metallica’s “72 Seasons” may not revolutionize their sound, but it stands as another solid addition to their discography, offering consistency and a blend of new influences with a nod to their own storied past. The album’s ability to evoke a sense of nostalgia and deliver a familiar yet fresh experience has resonated with fans worldwide, reinforcing Metallica’s enduring legacy in the realm of heavy metal.
Metallica performed the Iron Maiden classic “Prowler” on the Black Album tour, and it stands as their finest unreleased cover.
Witness exclusive footage of the premier band in the metal genre delivering a live rendition of the 1980 classic from Iron Maiden on YouTube.
Visuals capture Metallica in action during a 1992 live performance, accompanied by an image from Iron Maiden’s inaugural album (Image credit: kryptory via YouTube | EMI). Metallica has a penchant for impressive covers, boasting a remarkable 40 recorded throughout their extensive four-decade career. This tally excludes numerous live renditions performed sporadically over the years. Tracks like Whiskey In The Jar and Turn The Page are now inseparable from the Four Horsemen, as synonymous as the originals themselves. However, among the band’s numerous reinterpretations, one standout has sadly slipped into the annals of time.
During a San Francisco tour stop in 1992 as part of the Black Album tour, Metallica treated the audience to a brief rendition of Iron Maiden’s Prowler before launching into Master Of Puppets (embedded footage below). The original song, an opening track from Maiden’s 1980 self-titled album featuring former vocalist Paul Di’Anno, embodies a gritty metal essence that acquainted many with the band’s punk-infused progressive style. Under the command of James Hetfield and the band, the song transformed into a gritty thrasher, amplifying its aggressiveness and darkness.
Papa Het’s coarse vocals impart an even more menacing tone to Di’Anno’s lascivious lyrics: “See the ladies flashing all their legs and lashes, I’ve just got to find my way!” Simultaneously, Kirk Hammett and his wah-wah pedal flawlessly handle the sharp lead guitar line, infusing the old-school stomper with a rejuvenated speed metal energy, courtesy of Jason Newsted and Lars Ulrich.
To our knowledge, Metallica never revisited Prowler in subsequent live performances (with no mention on setlist databases like setlist.fm), and a recorded version is nowhere to be found. Given the band’s inclination for putting their signature metal stamp on other artists’ work, it’s a regrettable omission. The track possessed all the intensity and allure to follow in the footsteps of Am I Evil? if given the opportunity.
Curiously, Iron Maiden no longer includes Prowler in their live sets. According to setlist.fm, the last performance occurred in 2005 during a tour focused exclusively on material from their first four albums: Iron Maiden, Killers, The Number Of The Beast, and Piece Of Mind. This raises the question: why has this absolute gem of a song been neglected by performers across the board?
The most amazing onstage team-ups in heavy metal
Metallica and Ozzy Osbourne. Trivium and Slipknot. The entire Big Four. These represent some of the most outstanding collaborations witnessed on stage.
What sets a heavy metal concert apart from simply listening to the album at home? Well, aside from the overwhelming, skull-pounding noise, it’s the unpredictability. The live experience offers the chance to witness your favorite band team up with their (and/or your) idols, or a rising star proving their mettle alongside genre legends. Hammer has curated a list of the top live collaborations in heavy metal history, ranging from the convergence of the Big Four to Killswitch Engage embracing a former frontman…
The Big Four (Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax) – Am I Evil? (2010)
In 2010, fate smiled upon us as the Big Four of US thrash metal joined forces for an epic tour. The stellar lineup marked the Sofia, Bulgaria, show with a colossal cover of Diamond Head’s NWOBHM classic, “Am I Evil?” featuring members from each band.
All the other Metallica team-ups (Ozzy Osbourne, Lemmy, Joey Jordison, etc.)
Metal’s foremost band has consistently leveraged their stature to collaborate with idols. Over the years, Metallica has played Black Sabbath tunes with Ozzy Osbourne, performed Motörhead covers alongside Lemmy, and shared the stage with King Diamond. The substitution of Joey Jordison and Dave Lombardo for Lars Ulrich at Download 2004 has become equally legendary.
Disturbed feat. Myles Kennedy – The Sound Of Silence (2016)
While touring the US with Alter Bridge, Disturbed enlisted AB frontman Myles Kennedy to co-lead their distinctive cover of Simon And Garfunkel’s “The Sound Of Silence.” Myles’ high-pitched voice complemented David Draiman’s bassy baritone, elevating an already beloved reinterpretation.
Trivium feat. Corey Taylor and Robb Flynn – Creeping Death (2012)
Award shows were a breeding ground for onstage collaborations in heavy metal’s heyday. Trivium, hosting the genre’s best under one roof, brought in Slipknot’s Corey Taylor and Machine Head’s Robb Flynn for a fierce cover of Metallica’s “Creeping Death.”
Megadeth feat. Jason Newsted – Phantom Lord (2013)
In a surprising tag team, Megadeth joined forces with ex-Metallica member Jason Newsted. The performance, beyond the acrimony between Dave Mustaine and his former band, showcased Jason’s prowess as a formidable frontman when not behind his bass.
In This Moment feat. Rob Halford – Black Wedding (2017)
From Tool to Ghost, Rob Halford has always championed metal’s next generation. The Metal God of Judas Priest not only recorded “Black Wedding” with In This Moment but also performed it live at an awards ceremony.
Bullet For My Valentine feat. Matt Heafy – Tears Don’t Fall (2023)
For metalheads in 2005, this performance likely left an indelible mark. Earlier this year, Bullet For My Valentine and Trivium’s Matt Heafy delivered a powerful live rendition of the immortal “Tears Don’t Fall” in Orlando. Matt’s screams added impact and nostalgia to the already iconic track.
Killswitch Engage feat. Howard Jones – The Signal Fire (2022)
In 2019, Howard Jones symbolically passed the torch to his Killswitch Engage successor (and predecessor) Jesse Leach, guesting on the metalcore icons’ song “The Signal Fire.” The classic Killswitch frontman endorsed the track at live shows, playing it along with other fan favorites alongside his ex-bandmates and Jesse.
All the Korn team-ups (Sepultura, Joey Jordison, Brian “Head” Welch)
Korn’s stages have hosted an array of massive guests. In 2013, the band covered “Roots Bloody Roots” with Sepultura, and Slipknot’s Joey Jordison manned the kit in 2007. However, the 2012 collaboration with Brian Welch was pivotal, as it marked the ex-guitarist’s return to the band.
Suicide Silence feat. Robb Flynn, Max Cavalera, Randy Blythe, etc. – Mitch Lucker tribute concert (2012)
After the tragic loss of vocalist Mitch Lucker, Suicide Silence organized a tribute concert featuring a lineup of peers and influences. Phil Bozeman of Whitechapel and Anthony Notarmaso of After The Burial paid homage, while legends Robb Flynn, Max Cavalera, and Randy Blythe closed the memorable event.
Gojira feat. Randy Blythe – Adoration For None (2021)
Randy Blythe early on championed Gojira, and after featuring on the song “Adoration For None” in 2008, he joined them live in Virginia 13 years later. The collaboration acknowledged their enduring relationship, making it a special moment for both the band and the audience.