Metallica – Chicago 1986 First Leg (Zodiac 052)

Metallica - Chicago 1986 First LegChicago 1986 First Leg (Zodiac 052)

UIC Pavilion, Chicago, IL, USA – April 5, 1986

(55:31) Battery, Master Of Puppets, For Whom The Bell Tolls, Ride The Lightning, Welcome Home (Sanitarium), Seek And Destroy, Creeping Death, Am I Evil?, Damage Inc.

1986 was a breakthrough year for Metallica, they released their thrash magnum opus in March and landed the opening spot on Ozzy Osbourne’s Ultimate Sin tour, a tour that would expose them to a large amount of heavy metal fans, myself included. The tour was long, it started the end of March and ended the beginning of Augus, would consist of small, medium, and large markets. For this new release the folks at Zodiac present another recording from a taper in Chicago, whom I am guessing also recorded the Ozzy set from this eve, found on Ultimate Sin In Chicago (Zodiac 025) as the sound on both releases is very similar. The sound is slightly distant but clear enough, the drums and vocals come through cleanly although the guitars are at times a bit low in the mix. The recording sounds great at loud volumes and captures the atmosphere of the concert very well.

The band are out for blood from the first song, in fact the opening of Battery into Master Of Puppets is skull crushing metal goodness, James spews out the lyrics to the latter with, “twisting your mind and smashing your fucking dreams” is venomous. “Back in crazy Chicago…” gets a huge ovation from the audience, the band has a rich history with the city and introduces Cliff and his early bass driven For Whom The Bell Tolls. His playing on the opening and throughout the song is pure mastery, curiously this is also a good song to enjoy Lars’ drumming, his playing is spot on and very tight and together with Burton make for a nice, fat bottom end. The song is linked non-stop with Ride The Lightning and finds the band in a deep groove, a sort of fast sludge if such a thing exists. Kirk’s solo on this song is pure speed, it starts off slow then after a quick break he unleashes a fury of notes with the band playing a fast, chain saw riff making for a total sensory assault.

Needless to say the band needs a quick breather and what better way than with Welcome Home (Sanitarium), the introduction sounds hauntingly beautiful as the tale of madness washes over the audience. Such is the band’s confidence in the Puppets record that half the set is culled from it, and with good reason. The darkness of the song is in contrast to the next song, one that will enable a bit of audience participation, something they are more than willing to do. James asks if they have heard of Kill Em’ All, the response is a massive affirmative, the song is Seek And Destroy. The band hit a groove, something that once they break into it you can hear some audience acknowledgement, in fact you can here the audience help with the chorus from the beginning. “You like that heavy shit” is James’ remark at the songs conclusion, well prepare to be pounded into dust as the band plow into Creeping Death. A tape cut follows, possibly the taper is conserving tape as he waits for the encore, the band returns for a perfect combo in the form of Am I Evil? that segues into Damage Inc. James remarks “lets see if you know this one…” there is a minor cheer as a few metal heads know it, the B-Side to Creeping Death and originally written by NWOBHM stars Diamond Head (the other B-Side was Blitzkrieg, a song that would also make it in their live sets). By this time the band would not play the song complete, half way through it would transition into a punishing Damage Inc, James’ guitar is well defined in the mix, it is on this song you can here his importance in the band, his playing is tight and extremely precise, allowing for Kirk to solo over the top as well as lay down the steamroller of a riff. A perfect ending to a great concert.

The packaging is great, mostly live shots of the band, as well as a great posed shot on the inner tray. The live shot of Cliff on the inside is great, the Master for sure. There are official Metallica and Damage Inc graphics as well as a numbered sticker. The Cd has a picture of crosses in a grave yard and there is a tour book reproduction included that is the same as Master Of Chicago (Zodiac 019). I love Burton era Metallica, there was cohesiveness in the line up that could never be recaptured, thankfully we are still getting silver titles showcasing his talents. Decent sound quality, aggressive performance makes for a highly enjoyable listening experience.

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