10 metal bands’ first-ever concerts caught on film

Tool, Iron Maiden, Slipknot and Spiritbox performing onstage
(Image credit: Tool: Ebet Roberts/Redferns | Iron Maiden: Larry Hulst/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images | Slipknot: Mick Hutson/Redferns | Spiritbox: Katja Ogrin/Redferns)

It doesn’t matter if a band is headlining arenas and/or selling out world tours – everyone has to start somewhere. Even the most legendary rock stars had to learn to walk before they could run, putting on shoddy basement shows to embarrassingly empty crowds. Unfortunately for many of them, those very first gigs were caught on film. While some are seriously shocking, we’ve unearthed the cream of the crop. So, let’s go back in time – here are some recordings of bands’ first ever live shows for your viewing pleasure.

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Tobias Forge and his monks now have thousands of cultists eagerly packing out arenas, but there was a time when Ghost had to pull off their first ritual. While Papa Emeritus’ corpse paint and costume look pretty rubbish, those vocals are no joke. It’s no surprise this church quickly lured in the masses.

Slipknot (with Corey Taylor)

Sparks flying, bodies crammed together, crowd clamouring and howling – it’s only fitting that Corey Taylor’s Slipknot debut feels like a lost tape depicting the pits of hell. The frazzled, messy recording amplifies the venom in Corey’s performance as he menacingly leers over the crowd. It’s clear he was a perfect fit from day one.

Iron Maiden (with Bruce Dickinson)

The vocal acrobatics on display at Bruce Dickinson’s first gig with Iron Maiden? Unreal. The entire performance is utterly electrifying, Brucey alternating between banshee-like screeching and bold, dynamic vibrato. He’s absolutely showing off – and who can blame him? The crowds seem to bloody love it, revelling in the singer’s soon-to-be legendary charms. 

Rage Against The Machine

This one is incredibly special. The iconic opening of Killing In The Name unravels, Rage sound faultless, yet nobody is there. As the set rampages on, the crowd slowly thickens, eager to hear this rap metal gang. It’s the start of something extraordinary: a punk spark that would become impossible to stamp out.


The first Tool gig is Maynard James Keenan on a rampage. The shirtless menace emanates pure fury as he physically throws himself into the grit of each track. Although the instrumentals also feel formidable as he convulses and howls his throat raw, it’s most remarkable seeing how enraged the frontman used to be.

Nine Inch Nails

Sonically, Nine Inch Nails have always mustered a remarkable degree of polish – so it only makes sense that Trent Reznor’s live debut is equally as refined. The music’s frazzled, synthpop-drunk foundations and jagged distortion are bolstered by Trent’s brooding vocals, the combination an awe-inspiring chef’s kiss of early industrial metal.


There’s a certain confidence that comes with posting recordings of your own debut shows online – and, when it comes to Spiritbox, we’d say the confidence is fairly earned. Courtney LePlante sounds amazing, dominating the stage like a pro. It’s a joy to see those gutturals fly out with such ease and conviction.


Despite being together for ”about two weeks,” the gaggle of awkward teens pull off a triumphant set. All the makings of classic Deftones are on display, with hazy vocal effects and raw-edged riffs galore. The performance also plays into nu metal in a way the Californians would certainly stray from later in their career.


While Matt Johnson’s vocals aren’t a scratch on future frontman Sam Carter’s, the dawn of Architects is pretty commendable. The recording of the future metalcore heroes’ debut gig isn’t the cleanest, yet the instrumentals are solid. There’s an immediate familiarity in the soaring riffs, crashing with that staple Architects theatricality.


Yes, they’re wearing helmets covered in tinfoil. And, yes, they’ve stuck random bits of fur to themselves as they fight with styrofoam. But it’s exactly as it should be. There’s something so great about the energy of Gwar’s debut: a tongue-in-cheek silliness and DIY spirit. The fans love it – and we do too.

Emily Swingle

Full-time freelancer, part-time music festival gremlin, Emily first cut her journalistic teeth when she co-founded Bittersweet Press in 2019. After asserting herself as a home-grown, emo-loving, nu-metal apologist, Clash Magazine would eventually invite Emily to join their Editorial team in 2022. In the following year, she would pen her first piece for Metal Hammer - unfortunately for the team, Emily has since become a regular fixture. When she’s not blasting metal for Hammer, she also scribbles for Rock Sound, Why Now and Guitar and more.