Blogs Of War: Why Metallica at Glastonbury is a good idea

Pray to god for forgiveness! Batten down the hatches! Run for the hills! Say goodbye to your loved ones! The apocalypse is here! Metallica, THE Metallica, are headlining... Glastonbury! Yeah, it's been that kind of day...

The news of the biggest metal band of all time playing the most famous festival in the world shouldn’t really be cause for that much shock and vitriol should it? But, predictably and depressingly, it has. From both sides. The mainstream sheep that bought their tickets months ago in anticipation for a big Oasis reunion are crying over there and the steely, corpse-painted, kvlt (so they’d have you believe) metal elite are bawling ‘sell-out’, again, over here.

But let’s just breathe for a second and try and work this out rationally, see if we can’t find some common ground. Glastonbury is not a metal festival, but it is a music festival… an arts festival in fact. Metallica, last I checked, play music – so their inclusion seems to be valid here. Yes metal doesn’t have a huge part to play in the Glasto make up but there is a precedent for it. Tool, Deftones, RATM, Nine Inch Nails, Fu Manchu and Queens Of The Stone Age have all played there in years gone by to great receptions. And with previous headliners as diverse as everyone from Beyonce and Jay Z to Bob Dylan and The Who, why shouldn’t us metal fans be represented in some way? Some of those grizzling are probably the same folks that stamp their feet when Evile don’t get nominated for a Mercury music prize. You want more mainstream acceptance? This is how you get it.

But are Metallica a fair and just representation of the metal scene in 2014? Well, you’ve got me there… No, obviously they’re not. They’re still a formidable live act and with an arsenal of unrivalled tunes, but not the epitome of metal if you want to split hairs.

But I for one don’t mind that. As a 34 year old that first discovered the band during their much maligned mid-90s period, I can’t feel angry at Metallica not being a thrash band anymore as I never knew them as one in the first place. My first album was Load and it’s an album that I have a strong emotional attachment to. Yeah, you’re right, it isn’t technically as good as Master Of Puppets (what is?) but it is an album that pointed me and many like me in the correct direction for discovering the wonderful world of metal. They may not have been a metal band at that point but I still perceived them as one. I can see why those from the thrash era pine for the 80s, but I for one find it hard to do so. Sad But True.

The point is this, hearing Until It Sleeps made a kid that listened predominately to pop-punk and brit-pop give Metallica a whirl. Once I realised that metal wasn’t as scary as I may have feared I purchased albums by White Zombie, Slayer, Pantera, Sepultura and Fear Factory. This slow ease in made me the metal fan I am today. Would I own Alters Of Madness and Enslavement To Obliteration without it? Definitely not. No-one exits the wombs cradling the Darkthrone back catalogue on vinyl.

So maybe, just maybe, come Saturday 28 June at the Pyramid Stage some Ed Sheeran fan will be curious enough to stick around to hear Enter Sandman. Then, just as I was, he’s exposed to a live version of Creeping Death. His ears prick up, he gets home and buys Ride The Lighting, he reads up on the history and is so intrigued by the notion of the Big Four that he buys Reign In Blood… then Mastodon’s Crack The Skye, then The Satanist by Behemoth. Now he’s one of us. Part of, in the words of James Hetfield, ‘The Famileeeh’. And surely it’s worth Metallica visiting Worthy Farm just for that. Or you can be someone who moans about the Glastonbury headliner, which, last time I checked was Noel Gallagher’s job. You don’t want to be Noel Gallagher now, do you?

Stephen Hill

Since blagging his way onto the Hammer team a decade ago, Stephen has written countless features and reviews for the magazine, usually specialising in punk, hardcore and 90s metal, and still holds out the faint hope of one day getting his beloved U2 into the pages of the mag. He also regularly spouts his opinions on the Metal Hammer Podcast.