Metallica applies heavy metal bear hug

Their tunes came salted with 31 flavors of death: roasting in the electric chair, succumbing to the slow, blood-draining decay of chemical dependency, getting hunted down without mercy by nightmarish nasties, enduring the synapse-sizzling shock of war.

It was enough busy work for the Grim Reaper to demand overtime pay. Or at least a healthy raise, maybe some stock options.

And yet, counterintuitive as it may have initially seemed on its grizzled, battle-scarred face, blackened by a thousand bruises, this night was more about exultation than damnation.

Grins triumphed over grimaces.

“We’re gonna make each other feel good, alright?” Metallica frontman James Hetfield thundered unironically from the stage early on in the band’s sold-out show at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on Saturday.

And then he did his best to turn personal pain into a communal, heavy metal bear hug, complete with snarling platitudes.

This was a pep talk with serrated teeth.

“What don’t kill ya, make ya more strong,” Hetfield howled knowingly a bit later on the aptly titled, six-minute chunk o’ hurt “Broken, Beaten & Scarred.”

“You rise, you fall, you’re down, then you rise again,” he continued, in what could have been a summation of Metallica’s up-and-down career arc over the last 21/2 decades, as they’ve gone from thrash metal pioneers to the biggest band in the genre to more radio-friendly, less crucial populists to the critically acclaimed, reinvigorated vets that they are today.

And so those lyrics pretty much encapsulate everything that this band has long been about: picking, in gruesome detail, at all of life’s scabs as a way of eventually vanquishing them for good.

To this end, these dudes know that of which they speak, having weathered their own bouts with substance abuse and bitter inner band turmoil that nearly capsized this battered battleship a few years back.

But in the end, it all only hardened them, as their latest disc, the gripping, growling “Death Magnetic,” attests to with long, dense jams that boil over with a youthful vigor and ambition.

It was the album that Metallica mined the most on Saturday.

Metallica’s greatest skill has always been their ability to leaven technical prowess with simple hooks, to enliven terse jams with a melodic savvy that few, if any, of their speed metal running mates ever possessed.

This is an aptitude that Metallica has re-embraced on their most recent material, after shortening and brightening much of their output in the ’90s, exemplified by new tunes like “Cianide” — a catchy, concussive sing-along live — the stirring, slow-simmering “The Day That Never Comes” and a heart-palpitating “All Nightmare Long,” where the clipped guitar lines were suggestive of the menacing repetition of automatic gunfire.

These same traits were alive in some of Metallica’s vintage material as well, cornerstones of the thrash genre like “Ride The Lighting,” “Master of Puppets” and “Whiplash,” crucial building block upon which this sound was erected and which the band galloped through with precision and poise.

Stalking a massive stage positioned in the center of the arena, with a lighting rig shaped like coffins, Metallica’s live presentation was as pointedly in your face as their songs.

Physically, they ape the primal energy inherent in their catalog, with Hetfield punching the air like he was whacking at a speed bag, mouth agape, his features twisted into an almost comical caricature of agony and ecstasy. Meanwhile, bassist Robert Trujillo stood with his legs splayed apart, hunched over his instrument, as if he was bracing himself against some brute gravitational pull — namely, his own forceful playing.

Live, Hetfield’s voice is much higher than it is on the band’s albums, and these days, it lacks the gruff gravitas it once had, which can take some getting used to.

But still, the band conjures up such a seismic rumble, it’s as if they’re cleaving atoms in half on stage, and so Hetfield’s thin-sounding vocals are fattened by an all-you-can-eat buffet of riffs.

Besides, it’d take more than a suspect larynx to derail this speeding bullet train.

These dudes may trade in death, but it’s mainly just a means for them to continue thumbing their noses at it.

“We die hard,” Hetfield sang on the aforementioned “Broken, Beaten & Scarred,” seemingly only acknowledging mortality to sneer at it once more.

Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at jbracelin or 702-383-0476.

Man killed during road-rage incident
Las Vegas police are looking for two men involved in the shooting death of a man outside a 7-Eleven story at Bonanza Road and Maryland Parkway on Nov. 12, 2018. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System hosts Veterans Day Car Show and BBQ
The 4th Annual Veterans Day Car Show and BBQ is held in celebration of Veterans Day at the VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System Medical Center in North Las Vegas, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Wildfires in Southern California
Wildfires hit Ventura County, Calif., on Nov. 9, 2018. (Richard Brian/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dedication of Nevada's Battle Born memorial
The state of Nevada on Friday dedicated its Battle Born memorial honoring 895 state residents who have died in America’s wars.
Las Vegas police and Sunrise Children's Hospital hope to prevent infant deaths
The Metropolitan Police Department and Sunrise Children's Hospital held a press conference to get the message out on preventable infant deaths attributed to "co-sleeping" and other unsafe sleeping habits. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
No serious injuries after car hits tree in south Las Vegas
One person reported minor injuries but wasn’t hospitalized after a Wednesday morning crash in the south valley.
Nellis Air Force Base keeps airmen fed
Nellis Air Force Bass airmen have delicious and healthy food items, and a variety of dining facilities to choose from. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Suspicious package found at central Las Vegas post office
Las Vegas police determined that a suspicious package found Monday morning at a central valley post office was not a threat.
Suspicious package found at central Las Vegas post office
Police evacuated the area around the Garside Station post office early Monday morning near Oakey and Decatur boulevards.
With husband's passing, family in limbo for workers' comp claim
Meredith Tracy's husand, Russell Tracy, died more than a year ago on his first day working for a new company when he fell 22 feet into a manhole that was not properly safeguarded. His employer was fined $82,000 in penalties for unsafe practices, but the company has denied her workers' compensation claim, leaving her with no compensation since the death. Rachel Aston Las Vegas Review-Journal @rookie__rae
With husband's passing, family in limbo for workers' comp claim
Meredith Tracy's husand, Russell Tracy, died more than a year ago on his first day working for a new company when he fell 22 feet into a manhole that was not properly safeguarded. His employer was fined $82,000 in penalties for unsafe practices, but the company has denied her workers' compensation claim, leaving her with no compensation since the death. Rachel Aston Las Vegas Review-Journal @rookie__rae
Las Vegas family shares flu warning
Carlo and Brenda Occhipinti lost their son, Carlo Jr., or “Junior,” to the flu last year.
Author Randall Cannon shares an anecdote about Stadust Raceway
Author Randall Cannon shares an anecdote about Dan Blocker, who played Hoss Cartwright on the TV show "Bonanza," and the actor's passion for auto racing at Stardust International Raceway in Las Vegas during the 1960s. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal.)
Project Neon 85 percent complete
On Wednesday morning Oct. 31, Interstate 15 northbound lane restrictions were removed opening up Exit 41 to Charleston Blvd. On Thursday Nov. 1, Interstate 15 southbound lane restrictions were removed. The new southbound off-ramp to Sahara Ave. and Highland Dr. also opened Thursday, November 1. With Project Neon 85% finished the flow of traffic on Interstate 15 has substantially diminished. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Girl killed after jumping from bridge onto 215 Beltway in Henderson
Eastbound lanes of the 215 Beltway are shut down by the Nevada Highway Patrol after a female juvenile jumped from the 215 overpass at Stephanie and was struck by a FedEx tractor trailer. Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal @Vegas88s
Kristallnacht story
An interview with 94-year-old Holocaust survivor Alexander Kuechel who survived seven concentration camps and didn’t leave Germany until after World War II was over. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1 dead in central Las Vegas crash
An early Wednesday morning crash left at least one person dead and another injured. The crash was reported just around 3 a.m. at the intersection of Flamingo Road and Swenson Street. At least two vehicles were involved in the crash, one of which caught fire. Debris was scattered across the intersection as police combed the area as they investigated the scene. Flamingo is blocked in both directions between Swenson and Cambridge Street. Northbound Swenson is blocked at the intersection.
Richard Knoeppel named the 2018 Nevada Teacher of the Year
Richard Knoeppel, an architecture design instructor at the Advanced technologies Academy, named the 2018 Nevada Teacher of the Year on Monday, Oct. 29, 2018. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Mojave Poppy Bees
(Zach Portman/University of Minnesota Department of Entomology) Male Mojave poppy bees exhibit territorial fighting behavior. The Center for Biological Diversity wants the bee, found only in Clark County, to be added to the endangered species list.
Clark County Schools announce random searches
Clark County School District middle and high school students will be subject to random searches for weapons under a new initiative to combat the wave of guns found on campus. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss React to Dennis Hof's Death
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss speak about their friend and prominent brothel owner Dennis Hof's death at Dennis Hof's Love Ranch. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada brothel owner Dennis Hof has died
Nevada brothel owner and Republican candidate for Nevada State Assembly District 36, Dennis Hof has died. He was 72. Nye County Sherriff's office confirmed. Hof owned Love Ranch brothel, located in Crystal, Nevada.
Las Vegas police investigate suspicious package at shopping center
Las Vegas police evacuated a southeast valley shopping center at Flamingo and Sandhill roads early Tuesday morning while they investigated reports of a suspicious package. (Max Michor/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Las Vegas Metro hosts the K-9 Trials
The Las Vegas Metro K-9 Trials returns to the Orleans Arena to benefit the Friends For Las Vegas Police K-9 group.
Kingman residents love their little town
Residents of Kingman, Ariz. talk about how they ended up living in the Route 66 town, and what they love about their quiet community. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Service at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery
Twelve unclaimed veterans are honored at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City in Oct. 9, 2018. (Briana Erickson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas house prices reach highest level in 11 years
Las Vegas house prices are rising But so is the amount of available homes on the market Still, properties priced below $300,000 are selling fast And September was the first time since June 2007 that the median house price reached the $300,000 mark Las Vegas home prices have been rising at one of the fastest rates in the country over the past year Recent data show the market is now less affordable than the national average
National Night Out
About 100 Summerlin residents gathered at Park Centre Dr. in Summerlin on Tuesday for National Night Out. Lt. Joshua Bitsko with Las Vegas Metro, played with 3-year-old David who was dressed as a police officer. Face painting, fire truck tours and more kept kids busy as parents roamed behind them. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rural homeless issue comes to a head in Pahrump
On Sept. 12, Pahrump sheriff deputies told residents of a homeless encampment on private property that they had 15 minutes to vacate and grab their belongings. That decision might face some legal consequences. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remembrance blood drive on October 1
A blood drive was held at the Las Vegas Convention Center on the one year anniversary of the Oct. 1 shooting. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News Headlines
Local Spotlight
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like