This past weekend was a big one for Metallica, which performed a surprise gig at New York’s famed Apollo Theater on Saturday, a few days before the release of its new film, “Metallica: Through The Never,” which will make its debut in Imax theaters on Sept. 27.
It was also a big one for New York Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera, Major League Baseball’s all-time saves leader, who was honored at Yankees Stadium Sunday in a grandiose pregame ceremony, one that followed a bunch of other stadium ceremonies in honor of Mo.
During the Yankee Stadium festivities, a major surprise was Metallica’s on-field performance of “Enter Sandman,” the song that’s routinely played at the ballpark as Rivera, aka Sandman, jogs to the pitcher’s mound to send opposing batters “off to never never land” with his lightning-bolt cut fastball -- probably the most menacing pitch in baseball history.
The pregame ceremony was a loud, goose-bump-raising event that Rivera surely deserved, and one that baseball fans and metal fanatics certainly appreciated. It was also a meaningful one for the members of Metallica themselves, considering the California-based metal legends were playing tribute to Sandman before a game in which the Yankees would battle one of the band’s home-state teams, the San Francisco Giants.
With a thunderous rendition of “Enter Sandman,” Metallica whipped the crowd into a frothing baseball-meets-metal frenzy. Metallica frontman James Hetfield gave a shout-out to Mo, exclaiming, "This one's for you Mariano," the New York Daily News reported. The band's amps featured the Metallica name in the classic Yankees logo font, along with Rivera's number, 42, and "Sandman" visible on stage, Blabbermouth noted.
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Meanwhile, as Sandman approaches his MLB exit, Metallica will further its groundbreaking career by releasing its new film, “Metallica: Through the Never,” directed by Nimrod Antal, a flick that combines live concert footage with a storyline about a crew member sent on an urgent mission. The title comes from a song off Metallica’s 1991 eponymously titled fifth studio album, known to most as “The Black Album” -- it is also the album featuring Mo’s entrance song, “Enter Sandman.”
“It’ll be unlike anything you’ve ever seen,” Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich said of the movie at a recent press event. “The movie’s very unique. Hopefully, we’ll stand on that merit. Whether people like it or not, at least it’s very unique. We’re very proud of it.”
To Uncut magazine's website, lead guitarist Kirk Hammett, added: "It's the biggest stage you'll ever see anywhere."
The fictional side of the film stars actor Dane DeHaan, who is also handling his role as Harry Osbourne in “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.” Speaking to Collider, DeHaan had this to say about the unusual film: “It’s gonna be, first of all, really rock and roll and really ‘Metallica,’ for lack of a better word; they don’t hold back at all. But, during the concert, I basically go on this trip as a roadie for the band, and I pretty much literally have to go through hell and back to take it back to them, and all of this is going on during the concert, so it all ties together really kind of beautifully and uniquely. It’s unlike anything that I’ve ever seen before.”
Ulrich has said that while the film isn’t a traditional gig movie, it does feature plenty of blistering concert footage. “It’s two parallel universes that sort of cross paths all the time,” Ulrich said in a panel discussion with fans at Comic-Con this year. “There’s plenty of Metallica in there, you’re not gonna walk away going, ‘I wish there was more Metallica in there’ and I think there’ll be more people going, ‘Put more Dane up there, get these guys off the screen.’”
Ulrich believes that “Through the Never” does add a fresh spin to the great tradition of big music flicks such as 1970’s “Woodstock,” 1975’s “Tommy” and 1982’s “Pink Floyd The Wall.” He explained: “We’ve put a lot of hard work and sweat into trying to make a movie that’s really different from ... other, sort of, music-based films. They all stand on their own pedestals. If ours somehow can add an additional element to that great set of music films would be an honor, but the main thing is that it’s really unique.”
Perhaps a closer comparison can be made between Metallica’s new film and Led Zeppelin’s 1976 concert movie, “The Song Remains the Same.” The filming for Zep’s bombastic, diz-buster film took place during three nights at Madison Square Garden in New York, with more footage shot at Shepperton Studios in England due to reportedly unacceptable camerwork during the the gigs.
Ulrich has commented that Metallica’s new film could be considered Metallica’s answer to “The Song Remains the Same,” which includes a number of out-of-concert “fantasy sequences” for each of the band members as well as for manager Peter Grant and tour manager Richard Cole.
“There are similarities [to ‘The Song Remains the Same’],” Ulrich revealed in an issue of Classic Rock this year. “There are four members in Led Zeppelin, four members in Metallica, it’s a full-length movie, and there’s a lot in this film that does not take place onstage. The major difference is that the stuff that takes place offstage in the Metallica movie does not feature any members of Metallica. It’s two separate worlds -- a Metallica show and a story that unfolds in a parallel universe -- and at some point they intertwine.”
As for the music performed in “Through the Never,” Ulrich said it picks up where Metallica’s 2008 album, “Death Magnetic” -- which was a return of sorts to the band’s older, grittier, thrash-metal approach -- left off. “‘Death Magnetic’ is one m----------- of a record,” Ulrich has said. “There aren’t many Metallica records that sound as good as ‘Death Magnetic’ four years after they were made. With a lot of the other records, there were questions: ‘Why did we do that?’ or ‘What was going on there?’ or ‘Why didn’t somebody say to turn the snare on?’ I don’t feel like that with ‘Death Magnetic.’ What we’re doing now certainly sounds like a continuation.”
“Metallica: Through the Never” will premiere exclusively at every Imax theater across North America for a full week beginning Sept. 27. After that, the movie will be head to additional cinemas starting Oct. 4.