The Big 4: Is It Worth The Hype?

It’s been being teased in the states for over a year now after the ground shaking announcement that the four biggest bands in thrash were playing select shows together overseas in 2010.  It’s went on to spawn one of the greatest selling metal DVD’s of all time and the internet has been abuzz about it nonstop for countless months as of late.  Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax are a solid lineup for any thrash fan which two years ago would have been nothing more than a dream.  All of a sudden however, all of the differences between the giant egos were buried in less than spectacular fashion for the sake of money.

Tomorrow morning (January 25th, 2011) the ‘major’ announcement of either a lone tour date or a couple of big market dates will be revealed.  They will fulfill the wishes of the diehard fans that will travel to the ends of the earth to see Metallica but will do little else for the rest of us other than a simple “that’s cool” just like how we felt about the HetfieldSonisphere dates in 2010.  Sure, I love all four of these bands myself and would make sure to see them anytime they come to town separately, but having seen them all before I highly doubt they’re worth any kind of cross country pilgrimage.  If they wanted to do something spectacular they’d revive the ‘Thrash and Burn’ name and include Exodus and Testament in a six band mega bill that could be a legitimate festival of the bands getting their proper sets and all.  I can safely say that I will be dead long before that ever happens, but I can still dream.  Of course there will be the douches flaming the internet asking why Death Angel and Overkill weren’t included because they’re ‘real’ thrash.

Remember only a year and a half ago when Slayer’s Kerry King and Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine were slinging shit at each other in magazine articles and on Blabbermouth?  What about Metalica’s obvious Mustaine snubbing at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame just a couple of years ago?  Remember about the same time ago when Anthrax was talking shit about their lead singers and couldn’t keep a frontman?  There was a short lived new guy, a short lived John Bush reunion and then the glorious return oAnthraxf Joey Belladonna and this magical feeling that nothing is wrong.  Dave and Kerry have kissed and made up and now praise each other and frolic hand in hand to picnics apparently while talking about how great it is tour together once again.  The Metallica/Megadeth feud has died down to a whisper outside of the Metallica haters reminding us that even at their worst Megadeth never made anything as bad as ‘Mama Said’ (which is undeniably true).   Remember the old adage of how money doesn’t buy happiness?  While I’ve always been poor and figured the asshole who penned that was just a rich emo kid generations before his time, I disagree and so do the Big 4.  If peace sells, then they’re all buying.

The Slayer, Megadeth, and Anthrax camps are seeing dollar signs right now and who can blame them?  This will be their largest payday ever and they don’t even Megadethhave to headline.  My biggest gripe with this whole tour being blown out of proportion is that for as awesome as all four bands are, commercially this isn’t that big of a deal. Metallica IS the draw here.  The other three bands are all excellent in their own right, but it’s obvious they can’t draw their own fans out of their basements or McJobs long enough to attend a show.  I’ve seen Megadeth and Slayer separately play to crowds of 1,000 and combined with Anthrax play to less than 3,000.  I’ve been in the middle of the human ocean as Metallica played to 53,000.  Metallica can and will sell out any arena by themselves if priced right and the addition of these three other bands won’t bring much more to the table for one reason:  If people won’t pay $30 to see Megadeth they won’t pay $150 to see Megadeth get half the set as an undercard to Metallica.  During their 2009 tour Metallica brought out Lamb of God who honestly draws very similar sized crowds to Slayer right now and people were take it or leave it to the whole situation because – you guessed it –  they were there to see Metallica.

In no way am I bashing any of the bands here because I love them all and would pay decent money to see this show if it becomes practical or logical for me.  It’s just not the same kind of big deal to me as Rammstein finally setting foot in theSlayer U.S. was last year.  Will it be one of the best memorable lineups of all time?  Hands down the answer is yes.  Is it the most groundbreaking musical event of the past thirty years of thrash?  Unfortunately, no.  The biggest draw here is the improbability of it ever happening just a couple of years ago when it seemed like Anthrax was dead, Tom Araya’s health was on the fritz and Metallica and Megadeth were both contemplating making good music again and having second grade bitch fits with each other.  I guess the hype is blown out of proportion like we’re watching ‘Surreal Life’ and we’re waiting for an ego explosion and putting money on which band doesn’t make it to the end of the run.  I feel like this is the perfect way to appease the vast majority of the thrash fans while making fists full of money at the same time and that’s really all this boils down to.  I just don’t expect this to be as monumental attendance and history wise as everybody has made it out to be.  I think playing a handful of dates and making a shitload of money in the process is a lot easier than every interview asking when this tour will ever happen in the states.  Also, the most metal part of this whole article is that the Microsoft Word dictionary recognizes ‘shitload’ as a word.  That is all.

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