All photos by Karolina E. Piwko.
Metallica has been around for 31 years and they are one of the dinosaurs in the music business. There’s been much anticipation around this tour entitled the 2012 Black Album Tour where Metallica would play the Black Album in its entirety, only in reverse order. Everything was set for a great night of Metal in the hottest month of May measured in Oslo since 1889; needless to say the lines at the bars where long. The venue, Valle Hovin, is an outdoor stadium in a borough of Oslo and can hold approximately 40,000 people. This concert was sold out completely long before the set date.
The French Progressive Metal band Gojira was the first support band of the evening. They play a dark, heavy and technical form of Metal with vocals that varies between clean and screaming/growling. There’s no doubt about the technical skills of the band members, something they proved again and again throughout their short half-hour set. They opened with “Oroborus” from their 2008 record The Way of All Flesh, and continued with “The Heaviest Matter of the Universe,” “Backbone” and “Flying Whales” from their 2005 breakthrough record From Mars to Sirius.
“L'Enfant Sauvage” was the only song off their long awaited upcoming album with the same name. The song is heavy and definitely in the vein of their previous releases, but Gojira has always pushed their music further and this release is no exception. Fans are most likely in for a treat when they release L'Enfant Sauvage on June 26th this year.
Gojira struggled a bit to get through to the crowd. Heavy, groovy riffs like with the closer “Vacuity” seemed to get some hands in the air, but with the fast and technical parts of songs like “The Heaviest Matter of the Universe” the crowd seemed only to stand and stare at the band. Even though Gojira put on quite a show and played flawless, they were perhaps a bit too heavy for the Metallica fans. The reason why the crowd in general didn’t respond much to their show may be because the general Metallica fan isn’t necessarily a Metal fan. Metallica has become a phenomenon that attracts all kinds of people, and headbanging seems to be a rarity at their concerts except at the front and in the pit.
Oroborus / The Heaviest Matter of the Universe / Backbone / Flying Whales / L'Enfant Sauvage / Vacuity
Click here for gojira-music.com
Mastodon seemed to be more in the vein of what the crowd wanted to hear. They play a groovy form of Progressive Rock/Metal. As they are inspired by Melvins and Thin Lizzy their music is very much a blend of these two bands, but they’ve still managed to develop their own unmistakable sound.
With the exception of “Crystal Skull” (off Blood Mountain) and the obligatory “Blood and Thunder (off Leviathan) their set consisted of songs off their 2011 album The Hunter. The Hunter is their first non-concept album and has become a commercial success. Though it’s a varied album, the songs are groovy all the way and the crowd could show the horns and nod casually to the rhythm of the songs without being surprised by an offbeat like they were at times with Gojira.
Mastodon has gained some criticism for the live vocals a few times (check out their CD/DVD Live at the Aragon and you’ll see/hear), and though bass player/vocalist Troy Sanders looks like he’s gonna shit himself when he hits the high notes the band was well above par at this concert. There were no off-notes and the band was more energetic onstage than they’ve been earlier when they’ve visited Norway. The crowd was treated to great songs like “Black Tongue,” “Stargasm,” “Dry Bone Valley” and the aforementioned “Blood and Thunder”, as well as the hit single “Curl of the Burl” which won them a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance this year.
All in all, the support bands played great and put on quite a show. Even though not everyone in the crowd seemed to appreciate it, these bands are no less than the heirs to the Metal throne. The future of Metal looks bright!
Black Tongue / Crystal Skull / Dry Bone Valley / Thickening / Stargasm / Blasteroid / All the Heavy Lifting / Spectrelight / Curl of the Burl / Blood and Thunder
Click here for www.mastodonrocks.com
Metallica came on stage only a half hour late (hear that Guns N’ Roses???) to the sound of “The Ecstasy of Gold” from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. They started off with the great old classics, “Hit the Lights,” “Master of Puppets,” “No Remorse” and “For Whom the Bell Tolls” before the mediocre “Hell and Back” from 2008's Death Magnetic ruined the excitement they built with the first songs. Then the band went offstage while they showed a video with footage of fans waiting in line to buy the Black Album back in 1991, facts about the album and news coverage that was sent around the time of the release.
The band came back onstage and played the album in its entirety, only in reverse. Reversing the order of the songs was definitely a good idea. Now many of the songs like “The Struggle Within,” “My Friend of Misery” and “Through the Never” got to shine instead of being just the songs at the end of the record. “Nothing Else Matters” in the middle of the set got the crowd singing along, and by saving the most well-known songs, “Sad But True” and “Enter Sandman,” ‘till the end they made sure that the set was building up to a great finish, something the crowd seemed to appreciate.
Metallica is nowhere near being as good of musicians as the support bands, and it was obvious on several occasions. The weakest link is of course drummer Lars Ulrich. He struggled to keep up the pace on “Hit the Lights,” and it was very noticeable when the kick drum suddenly was missing from entire parts. Also singer James Hetfield was simplifying the vocal lines to older songs but the guy is getting older so that’s understandable.
Also Lars and bass player Robert Trujillo each had their own solo spots. As already mentioned Lars isn’t the best drummer in the world and it was difficult to see why he had a solo spot at all. Trujillo’s solo spot was even more disappointing as he only detuned his bass to get as dark tones as possible. As he is an excellent bass player he could have done so much more out of that solo spot other than wasting everyone’s time.
Other than the two meaningless solo spots the concert was a pleasant journey through Metallica’s bestselling album of all times, with the addition of what arguably are their best songs from the years before the release of the Black Album. Despite the boring “Hell and Back” and under par playing from said drummer everything is forgiven and forgotten when the encore consists of “Blackened,” “One” and “Seek & Destroy.” With the encore came pyro and fireworks and during “One” they filled a good portion of the space in front of the stage with smoke before putting on a great laser show.
Metallica is a dinosaur and one of the most important Metal bands of all time. Even though they’re getting older they still put on a tremendous show and they’re beyond doubt still an arena band. All in all, the crowd got a great night of Metal with three amazing bands.
Hit the Lights / Master of Puppets / No Remorse / For Whom the Bell Tolls / Hell and Back / The Struggle Within / My Friend of Misery / The God That Failed / Of Wolf and Man / Nothing Else Matters / Through the Never / Don't Tread on Me / Wherever I May Roam / The Unforgiven / Holier Than Thou / Sad But True / Enter Sandman
Encore: Blackened / One / Seek & Destroy
Click here for www.metallica.com