Sunday, August 14, 2011

Why Do People Still Care About The Big 4?

If you don’t live under a rock, you should probably already know that The Big 4 are set to play a once in a lifetime show at Yankee Stadium in September. It will be something that the attendees can tell their grandkids about. Like when Zeppelin reformed for that one off show in ’05, or like Elvis’ ’68 comeback special, it will be one of those events you just had to be there for. You could be one of the select few people who saw the Big 4 perform together on the East Coast... or the West Coast or in Germany, or Sweden, or Italy, or England, or France...

Super exclusive, one time only.

What’s that? There are rumours of an Australasian tour too? Oh... well... hrmmm. I guess if you miss out on this one, you can always wait till they come around next summer or whatever.

Now, I was under the impression that a once in a lifetime event was just that, something that occurs once. I know that this is the “me” generation, and you’ve all got to have your slice of the pie, but these shows lose more of their impact every time a new one is announced. What’s so special about seeing the Big 4 after they’ve played every other arena in every other city? Surely there’s a limit to the patience of even the most diehard fans willing to pay the outrageous ticket prices. How can you justify to yourself shelling out upwards of $200 to go see what is essentially a bunch of bands way past their prime cash in on their legacy?

Now, I’m no economics wizard, but where I’m from, $180 is enough to get me a festival ticket. That’s over 40 bands in one day, 10 times the amount you’re getting for a Big 4 concert. “But Mattassacre”, I hear you whine; “I bet none of those bands are Slayer or Megadeth, are they?” No, they aren’t, you little cockswipe, and I’m fine with that. You want to know why? It’s because I’ve already seen Slayer, and the rest of the Big 4, multiple times, and let me tell you, they ain’t getting any better. I shouldn’t need to elaborate on how terrible Metallica has gotten over the years; Megadeth seems content with releasing sub-par material every two years and upholding the record for most dull live show in the world; Slayer is literally falling apart at the seams, what with Tom Araya’s neck surgery and Hanneman’s massively infectious spider bite that put him out of commission, I wouldn’t be surprised if Kerry King spontaneously combusted on stage. And, Anthrax... Anthrax is just sad. Poor Joey Belladonna, it couldn’t be any more obvious that they’ve wheeled him out as a last, last resort and that Scot Ian desperately wants John Bush back in the band. Going off the two songs from the new album they’ve released, I may as well just buy myself the Damned Things album and be disappointed now, instead of later.

Now we’re getting to the root of the issue, how is it that these bands can continue to suck on an increasing scale, yet rake in the cash like they’re personally coming up to each and every one of you and shaking you down for every cent you’ve got?

It’s because they’ve all got a safety net. They are all part of the Big 4.

That’s why something as contrived as World Painted Blood can be critically laundered as one of the best albums of the year (even St Anger got glowing reviews, initially). That’s why these bands can sell out arenas in a matter of minutes, despite increasingly poor live performances. They’ve been given a free pass to suck, because they’re the bands that wrote Master of Puppets, Rust in Peace, Reign in Blood and Among the Living.

Honestly, I’ve always hated the whole concept of a Big 4, for several reasons.
Firstly, it’s the kind of concept that could only have been come up by a marketer. Some little dweeb working for a label in 1987, looking at a chart of record sales, circling the 4 highest and going “those are the best bands of the genre”. You’re fooling yourself if you think the Big 4 was determined by anything other than record sales, and not something more fruitful to the metal scene like influence (seriously, when was the last time you heard a band say they were majorly influenced by Anthrax rather than Kreator or something).

Secondly, now you have every retarded half-wit writing their own misinformed Big 4 list for every fucking sub-genre conceivable and arguing over how Chimera should be in the Big 4 of modern metal or some shit.

Thirdly, and most importantly, it’s created something of a Glass Ceiling in thrash, in that it allows the Big 4 to sponge off their own legacy and grow creatively impotent, while lesser thrash bands working their asses off, creating some of the best material of their careers and performing like it’s still 1984, get completely overlooked.

This image came up when I googled images of The Big 4. Go figure.

So, if the Big 4 happen to announce more tour dates (which looks like a fairly certain thing at this point) and you find yourself in a position where you’re able to attend, I ask you to simply think about it before you take out a second mortgage on one of the tickets. If you consider yourself a fan of quality live music, I urge you to save your cash. If however, you’re content with seeing a bunch of guys pat each other on the back and celebrate how good they used to be, that’s fine with me, you can sit next to Mr and Mrs Ford Mondeo and listen to them lose their shit when Enter Sandman comes on.




  1. I already saw Megadeth and Slayer on their Canadian Carnage tour along with Testament. Megadeth was really boring, but Slayer and Testament were good. Out of the Big Four I think Slayer is the only one worth seeing.

  2. When you have to shell out that much money for a spectacle like this, just for past-their-prime bands, it just doesn't seem "metal" to me. It mind as well be a Cher come back show.

  3. I saw the big 4 in indio, seeing as how i live 2 hours north of indio, it wasnt too difficult. that shit was a great show, any negative comments about the big 4 are clearly just people being jelly, and any argument against me calling you jelly is just a clear sign of being mad.

  4. SurvivedAbortion18/14/2011 8:56 PM

    You are a true voice of reason, Mattassacre. Literally the only statement I was opposed to was “because they’re the bands that wrote Master of Puppets, Rust in Peace, Reign in Blood and Among the Living.” I would have put it: “because they’re the bands that wrote Kill ‘em All, Killing is my business… And business is Good!, Hell Awaits, and Among the Living.”
    I do love all the albums you mentioned though, with the exception of Master of Puppets. I know I’m likely to catch a lot of shit for saying this, but ignoring how god damn overrated it is, in my opinion it’s just boring. Oh well though, we all have our tastes. Speaking of Selloutica, it's sad that Metallica's logo has to dwarf the names of bands that are better than them. Tisk, tisk.

  5. You have a good point about good modern thrash bands being overshadowed by the Big 4. Tantara is the big one that comes to mind.

  6. Finally someone else said it: Megadeth are fucking boring live.

    They sound good but they're as dry as a nun's nasty. And Mustaine couldn't project warmth and appreciation for his audience if he had a gun to his head.

  7. It's funny, in terms of formation and releases and stuff, all four of these bands are just a couple years newer than, or around the same age as, some of the "80's nostalgia" bands such as Journey, REO Speedwagon, Styx, etc. Those guys are constantly touring the U.S. with varying coofigurations of headliners and openers, and usually pretty cheap tickets too. I feel like the series of Big 4 shows is turning into that same sort of a vibe, what with the package of bands and the nostalgia and whatever. But somehow they still want to bill it as something limited opportunity and exclusive, and milk all the cash out of it that they can.

  8. I agree completely with CashBailey and oh-okay: Megadeth are incredibly boring live. I saw them last March, during the European Carnage Tour, and I was completely disappointed: no interaction with the audience, they just get on the stage, play and go. Slayer was great, though, despite the immobility of Tom Araya.

  9. The German or Tutonic Trash metal bands such as Destruction, Sodom and Kreator are way better. At least better when playing live.

    Just saying.

  10. I went to see the big four in germany because I got my ticket for free and they all sucked. Worst show ever!

  11. Fuck Hatebreed8/15/2011 1:31 PM

    Both Slayer and Megadeth have been on the mayhem tour. That's 15-20 bands for under $50 (after theater fees). Putting the bands together does not make the concert 4x more expensive. It's just ridiculous.

  12. It was a decent show (except for Anthrax). Metallica look like they hate being on stage now and Kirk Hammett sucks. I went but that's because it was basically in my backyard and I'm used to paying a lot to go see bands live (because nothing EVER comes here) so it didn't seem like a big deal to me. Looking back on it though, fuck no. None of those bands are worth 25 dollars or whatever anymore.

    Also, this is probably my favorite post of yours so far, Mattasacre.

  13. kingcarcas13498/16/2011 3:09 AM

    For some reason these bands stayed mallcore friendly even if they were really Metal at one point in time. Truth is you could probably go to a backyard show for $3 and see some teenaged turdburglars play better versions of their hit songs. Yankee Stadium fits perfectly, because it isn't YS, just a new age plastic version for printing money just like the bands. There is no way in hell i spend more than $50 on a metal ticket, i've only seen them that high for the likes of Immortal or Emperor when they only play 2 shows in the entire country, now that makes sense! The comments in an article i read about it tell you all you need to know "So liiike my dad got us VIP tickets to see Metallica like OMG! let me update my twitter!"

  14. Slayer and Megadeth have to be the two most overrated bands of all time. I can't tell you how many times I've fallen asleep trying to like them. The only time their songs are good is when they're performed by somebody else. Vader's cover of Raining Blood? Kick ass. Slayer playing their own song? Snoozefest. Hell, even that little-known, industrial-electronica band Electric Hellfire Club did South Of Heaven better. Ugh, money rules everything.

  15. I agree with the article. The appeal of these shows is more about the idea of seeing these four bands together (which was long regarded as a market-generated dream and impossibility), than actual good music being played there. Then again, isn't that what most live shows are about? On a lot of festivals, the headliners are mostly has-been bands that thrive solely on a reputation they acquired some 20 years ago (if not more). I remember going to Graspop in 2006 and having to see that godawful zombie version of GnR. Of course most people came to see shitty bands like them and Whitesnake, but I had the most fun in a smaller tent attending Satyricon at like 1AM. Not that Satyricon is so great, but they do know how to put on a live show, which is more than I can say about Axl '90 minutes late' Rose.

    Bottom line is, the concerts that tend to get the most (marketing) buzz also tend to be the most boring and unexciting. This is no difference, it seems. I think the best remedy is staying at home and listening to awesome music instead.

  16. The big 4, And the majority of the people who came to see them only know the first one.

  17. Fuck all these bands


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