Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Rock News Artist Of The Year #8: METALLICA

As part of the 2011 hennemusic Rock News Awards – recognizing the biggest rock news stories and artists of the year - hennemusic is counting down the Top 10 rock news artists of the year.

The Top 10 are determined by music fans: numbers are based on the combined total page views of the top 50 hennemusic rock news stories of the past twelve months.

Rock News Artist Of The Year #09 – JAMES DURBIN
Rock News Artist Of The Year #10 – PEARL JAM

The 2011 hennemusic Rock News Award winners will be announced on Tuesday, December 20 at

Rock News Artist of The Year #8 – METALLICA

The metal streamroller that is Metallica crushed everything in its path in 2011.

The band marked their 30th anniversary, played their first Big 4 concerts on U.S. soil, performed in parts of the world they hadn’t been to before, and released one of the most notorious albums of the year with Lou Reed.

The tease of what was to come came early: in January, Metallica announced their first Big 4 show in the States, set for California in April. No full-full blown tour, just a one-off gig on the site of the annual Coachella Festival.

Following that, the early February tease mentioned an upcoming “recording project” they had planned for June.

“I don't want to give too much away,” guitarist Kirk Hammett told Rolling Stone at the time, “but it's not really 100 percent a Metallica record. It's a recording project, let's put it that way. Without getting too deep into it, it's more a recording project than a bona fide Metallica album. Whether or not we can pull it off in just two weeks remains to be seen."

More about Loutallica in a moment…

So, the Big 4 rocked Cali just fine, then headed to Europe for the month of July to play a series of dates before returning home to rock Yankee Stadium in September.

October saw shows in Adu Dhabi and India, where chaos reigned over a Gurgaon concert that was cancelled just hours before it was set to begin; promoters were eventually arrested and refunds were provided, while a Bangalore date ran smoothly, by all accounts.

Metallica also squeezed in a corporate gig for Hammett’s neighbor, an executive at, as the band played their annual convention in San Francisco.

Metallica were involved in a couple of film project this year. In a rare move, the band allowed use of some of their songs in the film “Hesher.” James Hetfield appeared in “Absent,” a documentary about the effect absent and disengaged fathers had on their children, something James could speak to: his father left the family when Hetfield was just 13, while his mother died of cancer three years later.

The biggest challenge Metallica faced all year was the “Lulu” project they recorded with Lou Reed. The combination of Reed’s grumpy talk-singing over Metallica’s heavy riffage, with lyrics based on a German playwright’s 1895 production, was a bizarre mismatch on paper before it even got off the ground or in/out of the studio.

But “Loutallica” did leave the studio, causing an understandably visceral reaction amongst ‘tallica fans, while Reed dismissed anyone who failed to keep up with his ego or intellect.

As fans revolted and stayed away in droves, the powers that be struggled to build a saleable story for “Lulu,” so they very tellingly focused their promotional appearances in Europe while seemingly avoiding North America altogether.

While “Lulu” could bring most careers to a screeching halt, Metallica’s continued devotion to fans saved the day with a December series of 30th Anniversary fan club-only shows in San Francisco. At $6 a pop, or all 4 for $19.81, ‘tallica fans were treated to a spectacular week of gigs that many bands could only dream of delivering, full of special guests and a reunion of all members of the Metallica family tree.

2012 looks like another big year for Metallica, with European festival dates already announced, where the band will play the “Black” album in its entirety to mark its 20th Anniversary. Beyond that, the group has already teased that there’s more goodies to come…

“As Lars mentioned at the end of the last show, we’ll be back in January with an announcement about a special interactive fan event in June of 2012 . . . we may ask you to do a little traveling again!”

Metallica Metallica

Metallica & guests – Seek & Destroy
The Fillmore – San Francisco, CA – December 10, 2011