Despite having no new album to promote, not even one new tune to try out, Metallica, arguably America’s most popular rock band these days (Pearl Jam also claims the title), turned in yet another tightly wound, over-the-top metal extravaganza that reasserts its place as the most accomplished and, ultimately, entertaining band of the hard-rock/heavy metal world.
Just about the only commercially successful survivor of the early-’80s-bred old-school thrash-metal movement, Metallica has, with just the right amount of listenable panache, evolved into a ferocious and explosive concert unit that held this capacity-filled venue captive.
Taking the stage to the strains of Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back in Town,” the Bay Area foursome (growling singer/guitarist James Hetfield, super guitar-shredder Kirk Hammett, heavy-handed bassist Jason Newsted and L.A.-reared Lars Ulrich on drums) launched into seldom-heard oldie “Breadfan,” as the apocalyptic, sci-fi-inspired metallic stage rigging roared and glowed with fireballs, thick smoke and assorted random explosions.
What followed was 2 1/2 hours of the best cuts from the band’s six albums.
Best of the bunch included “Welcome Home (Sanitarium),” an increasingly-intense song of paranoia and mental failure; the menacing “For Whom the Bell Tolls”; ultra-heavy “The God That Failed” (from the band’s most recent, 3-year-old self-titled Elektra album); classic thrasher “Leper Messiah,” featuring guitarist Hammett’s best impersonation of a punk Jimmy Page; the methodically crafted slow-burner “Sad But True” and “Whiplash,” a breakneck-paced ditty that lived up to its name.
Also of note, a clever “Kill ‘Em All”/”Ride the Lightning” medley featuring some of the band’s best early-’80s material, which, despite the band’s terrific songwriting growth, still stands the test of time.
Second billed at this six-hour headbanging fest was vet Orange County punk-speed rockers Suicidal Tendencies, promoting its recently issued Epic album , “Suicidal for Life.”
Preaching an unrelenting sermon of single-minded determination and inner strength, vocalist Mike Muir strutted about the stage like a proud rooster, shouting down imaginary doubters and encouraging the quintet’s followers to be like them — suicidal for life.
Maverick Records’ Candlebox played a late afternoon set of pop-metal tracks from its platinum eponymous debut, including MTV/rock-radio hit “Far Behind,” the semi-ballad “Change” and its catchiest track, “You.”
Part of the wave of Seattle-scene-inspired bands, Candlebox possesses a number of likable, if disposable, songs, though the band lacks any distinguishable hook or sound that might indicate long-term import.
Former Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford’s current speed-metal project, Fight , opened the day with a forgettable selection of screamers from its forgettable Epic debut, “War of Words.”
This bill also appeared at Cal State Dominguez Hills Tuesday and will be at San Diego’s Brown Field on Sunday.