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The Big 4 - 'Live From Sofia, Bulgaria' DVD

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The Big 4 - Live From Sofia, Bulgaria

The Big 4 - Live From Sofia, Bulgaria

Warner Brothers Records
In an event fans had been anticipating for decades, the “Big 4” of thrash metal finally played some shows together. Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax did a series of 7 shows in Europe at the Sonisphere Festivals. One of those shows was captured for The Big 4: Live From Sofia, Bulgaria.
Also broadcast in movie theaters worldwide via satellite, the concert was one of the defining moments and biggest events in recent metal history. All the bands have a lot of tread on their tires, but they can still put on a great show, as this DVD proves. Each band has a very distinctive attitude/vibe. Anthrax has a more lighthearted, fun approach, while Megadeth is 100 percent business with very little banter and focus on the music. Slayer has a more ominous vibe, although their evil mystique has lessened over the years. Metallica were very inclusive, with James Hetfield acting as everybody's favorite uncle interacting with the crowd and taking time to soak it all in.

Anthrax kicked off the show, and I was very pleasantly surprised with their set. Joey Belladonna is back as their singer, and has a very energetic stage presence. He's the only singer not tethered to an instrument, so he was free to roam all across the expansive stage. The band played a hits packed song list, including “Caught In A Mosh,” “Antisocial” and a rendition of Sabbath's “Heaven And Hell” in tribute to Ronnie James Dio.

When Megadeth hit the stage, the rain came pouring down, but that did not dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd. It's great to see bassist Dave Ellefson back in the band, as his chemistry with Dave Mustaine is evident. They put on a no frills show, letting the songs do the talking. Mustaine and Chris Broderick are outstanding guitarists, and Megadeth's musicianship is better than ever.

It wasn't raining blood, but the fans were still getting wet when Slayer played. After neck surgery Tom Araya isn't headbanging anymore, but otherwise he looks and sounds great. Their dual guitar attack of Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman is razor sharp, as they blazed through favorites like “Mandatory Suicide” and “South Of Heaven.”

Metallica were the headliners, and played for just over two hours. They played several older songs like “Creeping Death,” “Hit The Lights” and “Seek And Destroy” along with a couple of tracks from Death Magnetic and their biggest hits such as “Enter Sandman” and “One.” Towards the end of their set they brought out everybody for an all-star jam of “Am I Evil.” It was great to see Dave Mustaine on stage with Metallica, especially playing a song that he also played with them back in the day. Hetfield, Belladonna and Mustaine alternated vocals on the song.

Having four drummers was cool, with Lars Ulrich behind the kit and the others having standup snare drums. Everybody looked like they were having a blast, and all bands were represented, although Slayer was missing a couple of people. Everybody hugged both before and after the song, and it was definitely the defining moment of the night.

In addition to the concert, there's also a 45 minute behind the scenes documentary. It's worth watching as it follows the various bands around the venue before, during and after their sets. You can tell everybody was genuinely excited and honored to be part of this event. Hopefully we'll be able to see this in North America in the near future, but The Big 4: Live From Sofia, Bulgaria is mandatory viewing for thrash fans.

(released November 2, 2010 by Warner Brothers Records)

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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