Metallica take Aftershock festival back in time through The Black Album

Metallia live, Aftershock festival 2021
(Image credit: Steve Thrasher)

Metallica at Aftershock: Friday October 8

Friday welcomes the first of Metallica’s double headliners and fans are packed in several hours before they’re due to hit the stage. It’s clear that the vast majority of festival-goers have solely for this band and they want to be as close to their heroes as humanly possible.

Tonight the setlist is grounded largely in hits from the 80s and 90s, but with a few surprises thrown in. The intro tape of Ennio Morricone’s The Ecstasy Of Gold leads straight into Whiplash, and later, One and Fade To Black sit alongside No Leaf Clover and Whiskey In The Jar. There’s an unexpected and undeniably strong performance of Frantic from St. Anger – preceded by a wry smile from James Hetfield and a facetious comment about this song being “off your favourite album.”

The band take a little time to find their usual swagger but, soon enough, Hetfield’s evil cackles ripple through the park, Hammett’s solos soar, and fireworks and flames fill the sky. By the time Battery and Seek & Destroy are unleashed, Metallica completely own this sea of souls. Meanwhile, tracks from The Black Album remain strikingly absent, which means that Sunday, when Metallica return, is going to be a great day to be alive.

Metallica at Aftershock: Sunday October 10

Despite four days of blistering metal and festival exhaustion, both Metallica and the crowd are straining at the leash tonight. The energy is off the chart and Hetfield has a twinkle in his eye knowing what is about to unfold. However, they make us wait before unveiling their plan, ripping through Hardwired, The Four Horsemen, and Welcome Home (Sanitarium), the last of which is unnervingly accompanied by footage of trapped figures trying to escape enclosures hanging above the stage.

Finally, as rumoured and in honour of the 30th anniversary of The Black Album, Metallica bless us with a full performance. Craftily, they play it in reverse order. Presumably this is to ensure that the crowd’s vocal chords are fully flexed before Enter Sandman – the track that draws the broadest grin of the evening from Hetfield, whose commanding stage presence and voice are utterly spectacular tonight.

Other standout songs are Sad But True and Through The Never, which see particularly emphatic performances from Kirk Hammett and Rob Trujillo. Throughout the night, the flow of crowdsurfers never slows and the volume of the band seems to continually rise until final encore, Creeping Death, complete with a spectacular firework display, pushes us into complete sensory overload.

Metallica: Aftershock Festival Friday setlist

Ride The Lightning
Harvester Of Sorrow
The Memory Remains
Moth Into Flame
No Leaf Clover
For Whom The Bell Tolls
Whiskey In The Jar
Fade To Black
Master Of Puppets 

Seek & Destroy

Metallica: Aftershock Festival Sunday setlist

The Four Horsemen
Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
The Struggle Within
My Friend Of Misery
The God That Failed
Of Wolf And Man
Nothing Else Matters
Through The Never
Don't Tread On Me
Wherever I May Roam
The Unforgiven
Holier Than Thou
Sad But True
Enter Sandman

Fight Fire With Fire
Creeping Death