Metallica is arguably the pioneer of heavy metal in the United States. While every one of their albums has defined the genre, their most popular albums, Master of Puppets and the Black Album have sold millions of copies and initially brought heavy metal into the public eye. Metallica's tour dates have sold-out the world over and brought fans back again and again for twenty years. Currently, Metallica is blowing the minds of metal fans with their 2011 concert dates as a part of the "Big 4": Metallica, Anthrax, Megadeth, and Slayer.
In 1981, drummer Lars Ulrich persuaded Brian Slagel to let him record a song for the producer's upcoming Metal Massacre compilation. With no band to record the song with, Ulrich placed an ad in a Los Angeles newspaper, to which guitarists James Hetfield and Dave Mustaine's responded. With Hetfield on bass and vocals, the trio recorded "Hit the Lights" for the compilation. The song gained the group a small amount of popularity and they soon hired bassist Cliff Burton. Shortly before recording began on Metallica's debut album, Dave Mustaine was ejected by the other band members for excessive drug and alcohol use and violence and replaced by Kirk Hammett. Kill 'Em All was released in 1983 and, along with explosive tour dates, earned Metallica an underground following in the world of metal.
The success of the album paled in comparison to what Metallica experienced with the release of Master of Puppets in 1986. The album personified heavy metal at the time and is considered to be one of Metallica's crowning achievements. The international success of the album and its promotional tour dates was marred by tragedy when Cliff Burton was killed after Metallica's tour bus lost control and flipped over several times. With the consent of Burton's family, Metallica chose to continue and hired Jason Newsted to play bass. As if Metallica hadn't become popular enough, the release of Metallica (commonly known as The Black Album because of its cover) cemented their place as metal gods. The album marked a clear dividing line between "new" and "old" Metallica, as their newer albums showed a wider range of accessibility. Shortly after world wide tour dates, but before heading to the studio to record a new album, bassist Jason Newsted left the band and the Metallica hired former Suicidal Tendencies bassist Robert Trujillo to replace him. Metallica then released St. Anger in 2003, which won a 2004 Grammy for Best Metal Performance, making it the band's ninth Grammy win. After promotional tour dates for the album, Metallica has significantly reduced their concert dates in recent years.
Metallica is currently setting Europe ablaze with 2011 concert dates as a part of the "Big Four". The Big Four has five more tour dates in early July, including stops in Germany, Sweden, Italy, the UK, and France. Metallica will then go on to play a few more tour dates, including the Festival d'ete de Quebec on June 16, Rock in Rio on September 25, and F1 Rocks in Delhi on October 28. Metallica will also make a special tour date appearance at Yankee Stadium in New York on September 14, and a concert date at Bangalore Palace in India on October 30.
Avenged Sevenfold played a pivotal role in waking metal from its slumber at the beginning of the new millennium. The band was also one of the few groups that was largely influential in shaping the sound of nu metal, and is also one of the only bands to go from metalcore to a more classic metal sound, instead of the other way around. Despite the death of drummer Jimmy "The Rev" Sullivan, his legacy will live on in the songs he wrote for his final album, Nightmare. After playing 2011 tour dates on the Welcome to the Family tour, Avenged Sevenfold is taking their concert dates overseas to Europe and Australia.
Avenged Sevenfold was formed in 1999 by high school friends Matthew Sanders (M. Shadows), Zachary Baker (Zacky Vengeance), The Rev (Jimmy Sullivan), and Matt Wendt. The group recorded two demos in 1999 and 2000 before releasing their debut album, Sounding the Seventh Trumpet, in early 2001. Lead guitarist Brian Haner, Jr. (Synyster Gates) joined shortly after the album's release and John Seward (Johnny Christ) replaced Matt Wendt in 2003. The band soon released their second album, Waking the Fallen, in the same year. Higher production values better showcased Avenged Sevenfold's musical talents and gained attention on Warped Tour dates, as well as the reincarnation of Headbanger's Ball.
The group's major label debut, City of Evil, in 2005, marked a shift from metalcore to a more contemporary metal sound. Avenged Sevenfold spent sixteen continuous months playing concert dates in promotion of the album, eventually canceling tour dates in 2006 so that they could head back into the studio. After a year of tireless recording, the band's self-titled album debuted at #4 on the Billboard 200 in late 2007. "Dear God" has country music undertones, while "A Little Piece of Heaven" is essentially a metal show tune; these experimental songs received mixed reviews from critics, but fans ate them up.
After numerous tour dates in promotion of the album, Avenged Sevenfold again became eager to get back into the studio. The songs were written and recording set to commence in late December, just days before James "The Rev" Sullivan was found dead in his Huntington Beach home at the age of 28. While drum tracks on the album, Nightmare, were recorded by The Rev's favorite drummer, Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater, he did record vocals for a few tracks as well as turning in the music for the track "Fiction" just three days before his death. The Rev must have been smiling down on the band because the album debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 and become a huge success with fans and critics.
Fresh off 2011 tour dates for their Welcome to the Family tour, Avenged Sevenfold has more concert dates lined up in Europe and Australia. Avenged Sevenfold will spend June playing tour dates in Western Europe, including stops at Rock Im Park and Rock am Ring in Germany, the PinkPop festival in the Netherlands, and Graspop in Belgium. July 15 and 16 will see Avenged Sevenfold playing concert dates in Wisconsin before heading out on 2011 tour dates in Australia beginning July 28. Australian tour dates will end in Perth on August 6, so European and Australian fans should check Eventful for tickets soon.