- 09 Jun 19
Metallica came to Slane as conquering heroes. The question was: could they take the fabled castle by storm? With Ghost in support, they had a chance...
It’s been nine long years since Metallica last graced these shores. Tonight sees the long-awaited return of the Bay Area berserkers and in many ways the regal setting of Slane Castle feels like a perfect fit for the undisputed kings of thrash.
As soon as Hot Press arrives at this near mythic venue, there’s a palpable feeling that we’re about to see a history-making performance from the riff lords: the excitement levels in the crowd are at 666% from the get go. And who can blame them? We’re at officially the largest metal show in Irish history after all, and you can bet your best bullet belt that Metallica will want to celebrate that milestone in style in front of 75,000 or so of their “family members.”
But first, we’ve got a mouth-watering selection of support acts to sink our teeth into and Fangclub open proceedings with a roar. Calling to mind the should’ve-been-huge Fighting With Wire, the Dublin band’s set is pleasingly explosive. Norway’s Bokassa, the self proclaimed “kings of stonerpunk” (which we’re assuming is a cheeky nod to the still venomous Poison Idea) earn plenty of new converts with their head-cracking riffs, while the legendary Northern punk-rockers, Stiff Little Fingers, keep the energy levels up with a crowd-pleasing selection of classics.
Next up, Ireland is treated to our very first visitation from Ghost. Arguably the most
exciting and entertaining metal band on the planet right now, everything about the tongue-in-cheek Satanists screams rock gods in waiting. Emboldened by the success of last year’s sterling Prequelle, the act, who are led by “new” frontman “Cardinal Copia” (ie-the red suit and rubber mask clad latest incarnation of the ever creative Tobias Forge) are in scintillating form.
Yes, it’s a little weird seeing Ghost band members the Nameless Ghouls in the daylight, but the super melodic set is a blast anyway, laden with shredding guitars, spooky synths and diabolically good hooks. ‘Rats’ is a huge standout and is part insane '70s era Eurovision-esque perverted pop song, part Dio-minded blast of heavy metal thunder, while the infectious ‘Square Hammer’ signs the Swedes’ show off in spectacular fashion. Turns out the devil really does have the best tunes.
Before we know it, it’s time for the main event and the thrash heavyweights waste little time going for the jugular with the new(ish) number ‘Hardwired'. Aided by gi-normous video screens which show both the band and suitably apocalyptic images, the opener is an unbeatable one-two punch of sound and vision.
Tonight’s performance is like a master-class in stadium-sized heavy metal. There’s pyros, flames and lasers galore, however unlike some other acts, with Metallica it never seems to overshadow the music. As entertaining as the eyebrow-singeing fire is, the note-perfect strains of the shockingly good ‘Ride The Lightning’ and ‘The Unforgiven’ are what we’re all really here for. You can see that the band are enjoying themselves too and bassist Rob Trujillo and singer/guitarist James Hetfield rock out like a middle-aged Bill and Ted all night.
On the subject of Metallica’s frontman, he addresses the crowd a few times, apologising for their long over-due return to Ireland, but wisely lets the riffs do the talking for the most part as the band bulldoze through the best cuts from latest album Hardwired....To Self Destruct (‘Moth Into Flame’ is particularly incendiary), as well as favourites from yesteryear. There’s also renditions of ‘Whiskey In The Jar’ and ‘The Wild Rover’ too for the day that’s in it.
The likes of the evergreen ‘Sad But True’ sounds nothing short of titanic in the open air and receives one of the best reactions all night, while ‘Creeping Death’ remains not only one of the veterans’ greatest tunes, but one of the finest metal songs ever written. Sending the hordes off to their beds with the now traditional closer ‘Enter Sandman', Metallica pulled out all the stops tonight to ensure that their critics silencing show rivalled the parties at the fabled banquet hall of Valhalla itself. Here’s hoping it’s not another ten years before Metallica are back to batter our ear-drums. `one more time with feeling!