November 13, 2004
The Arena At Gwinnett - Duluth, GA





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Anyone who thinks Metallica has mellowed in the throes of middle age can think again. It was instantly clear with the pummeling and fiery (literally) “Blackened” that this foursome is as fearsome as ever. The sold out to the rafters crowd roared so the band roared back. Drummer Lars Ulrich was nearly out of control. Following many of the songs, he’d leave his kit, run over to the lip of the stage and scream back into the faces screaming at him. Then he’d re-man his ever-rotating drums for another barnstormer.


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New bassist Robert Trujillo stalked around like a mobile gargoyle, looking like a heavy metal themed wrestler. With the exception of his longwinded bass solo, his role seemed to be to force his band mates to rock more. And he succeeded. Lead guitarist, Kirk Hammett was the only one to regularly smile. Whether he was dishing out the wah-wah laced “Enter Sandman” or the mid-‘80s hammer-ons, he was the light amongst the darkness.


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He wasn’t alone in being over the top. During “Fuel,” front man James Hetfield was surrounded by flames jutting through grates in the hi-tech stage. His intensity was more inward than Lars’ but it was still evident. The song list was almost totally devoid of songs from the recent St. Anger but no one was complaining at the liberal dose of well-known songs. “Wherever I May Roam” and “The Memory Remains” found the audience as fifth-member. They were shouting along so loudly that it sounded as if their voices were coming through the massive speakers. As a reward, the band pulled out the rarely performed “Leper Messiah” and its massive riff caused heads to involuntarily bang in time.

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The centerpiece of the night was one of the most frightening things I’ve ever witnessed. During the intro to “One,” a battlefield was simulated onstage. Of course, the group was under the stage at this time as it was just too dangerous up top. One after the other, concussion bombs exploded. You could never tell exactly where or when one would go off but after a couple of minutes, you knew it was coming. I didn’t see a single big ol’ tough metal guy (or girl) who wasn’t holding ears and shielding eyes during this onslaught. “One” was always an effective anti-war song but this intro was truly horrifying and (I imagine) realistic. It was total overkill, fear and fire. It was pure metal. It was fitting that the finale was “Seek And Destroy.” By that time, it was clear that Metallica had done just that.

(Chris McKay /

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