On July 6, 1991, nearly 7,000 thrashing headbangers and metal fans gathered at Great Woods to be treated to one of the loudest and memorable tours in history, the Clash of the Titans. For about four hours, thousands of fans rocked to the music of four bands, Anthrax, Slayer, Megadeth, and opening act, Alice in Chains, all of which cranked out a tremendous dose of ear-splitting no-holds-barred heavy metal.
Alice in Chains took the stage first and ripped into several songs from their debut album “Facelift.” However, it was their smash radio hit, “Man in the Box” to which the crowd roared and jumped up to sing along. The band lacked lighting effects and scenery, but this did not affect the hard-hitting music. As an opening act, Alice in Chains performed a satisfactory show, whetting the crowd’s appetite for what was to follow.
The first Titan, Megadeth, was by far the best band of the evening. They burst forth on stage and kicked off a great show with songs from their back catalog and their new LP, “Rust in Peace.” Vocalist/guitarist Dave Mustaine proved to be an excellent frontman, cranking out loud riffs to accompany his complex lyrics dealing with present-day society. The thundering crowd – the majority of whom wore Megadeth T-shirts – loved every minute of Megadeth’s set, from “Wake Up Dead” to the encore of “Anarchy in the U.K.” The crowd rushed to the stage, and headbanged in time with the music. The metal masters smashed through their epic songs “Holy Wars” and “Tornado of Souls.” The sound was excellent: loud, ear-splitting guitars, a rumbling bass, and a non-stop beat and stunt drumming.
A loud cheer rose from the crowd when Slayer arrived and began “War Ensemble.” Supporting their new album, “Seasons in the Abyss,” Slayer fully fit the classification of “heavy metal” as bassist/vocalist Tom Araya led the group through such dark numbers as “South of Heaven” and a new tune, “Dead Skin Mask.” Similar to Alice in Chains’ show, Araya’s deep vocals were drowned out by the din of the guitars.
However, it was the last act, Anthrax, which the crowd appeared to enjoy the most, simply because there was more audience participation. Insistant frontman Joey Belladonna traded cat-calls with the audience during “Anti-social,” and the band allowed fans who jumped on stage to remain. One of the favorable points of the Anthrax set was the variety of songs, from the rap-like “I’m the Man” to the high-spirited fun-fest of “Indians.” On rhythm guitar, Scott Ian delivered a powerful crunch attack over which Belladonna shrieked his smart, political lyrics. Anthrax spiced up their set list by playing new tunes from their recent album, “Persistence of Time.”
After the show, I happened to be lucky enough to meet Megadeth backstage with several of my friends. Unlike many stuck-up rock stars, the members of Megadeth were very nice, down-to-earth people. They spent their time signing autographs and having their pictures taken with fans, pausing to answer a fans’ questions. In a conversation with bassist David Ellefson, he explained that he has been playing for 15 years, and that his first experience sky-diving was very exciting. The adventurous Dave Mustaine spoke about his interests in sky-diving, bungee jumping, and even alligator wrestling. Drummer Nick Menza autographed a drumstick one of my friends had caught, while guitarist Marty Friedman mingled with the backstage crowd.
The three Titans of heavy metal clashed at Great Woods, but in the end, all of the bands proved to be the true Titans of their own respective sounds. The thousands of metal fans went home that night having experienced one of the greatest events in rock history. n