Backbeat: Metal Masters Unites Phil Anselmo, Kerry King, Billy Sheehan, Others For Monster Jam
Backbeat: Metal Masters Unites Phil Anselmo, Kerry King, Billy Sheehan, Others For Monster Jam


Herding Cats: What's cooler than cramming a bunch of metal icons on one stage to destroy the genre's classics? Getting them to sit still to take an afterparty photo. From Left: Anthrax bassist Frank Bello, SiriusXM Octane/Liquid Metal PD Jose Mangin, TKO agent Mike Monterulo and Metal Masters head of security Phil Ciulo. In the middle row (from left): guest Adrienne Menghi, Mike Davis Productions VP of artist management Kimberly Zide-Davis, Exodus/Slayer guitarist Gary Holt, Slayer guitarist Kerry King, Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante and Down singer Phil Anselmo. In front (from left): Samson Technologies director of marketing Mark Menghi, the mastermind behind the "Metal Masters" series; Samson VP David Hakim, Lenny Postiglione of Samson marketing and Slayer/Philm drummer Dave Lombardo. (Photo: Christa Titus)

Anyone who missed the Big 4 concert last year could have consoled themselves with "Metal Masters"-a combination music clinic, jam, reunion and house party-when it shook the roof of New York's Gramercy Theater on Sept. 7. The series puts metal legends in the hot seat by having them demonstrate musical techniques to fans and aspiring musicals, with a lucky few being pulled onstage to receive personal instruction. Samson Technologies, Zoom, Hartke, Guitar Center and Revolver magazine presented an installment that would impress the most jaded metalheads. Anthrax bassist Frank Bello, drummer Charlie Benante and guitarist Scott Ian; Slayer guitarists Kerry King and Gary Holt (also of Exodus) and drummer Dave Lombardo (also of Philm); bassist Billy Sheehan; and Down singer Phil Anselmo delivered a crushing all-star jam that was prefaced by much back slapping, shot-taking and bromancing. If Metal Masters thought to put this lineup on a proper tour, Billboard called it here first.

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The Top Four Takeaways from Metal Masters 4:

4. The All-Star Jam
Concerts aren't intended for crowd watching, but when the audience turns into an unofficial fifth band member, you're seeing something pretty special. Gramercy Theater holds around 700 people tops, and with all the exuberant moshing, headbanging and fist-pumping during the session, it felt like twice as many bodies were packed inside. Wave upon wave of metal broke over the room. Pantera's "Five Minutes Alone," "A New Level" and "Goddamn Electric." Slayer's "Raining Blood" and "Angel of Death." Exodus' "Strike of the Beast." S.O.D.'s "Kill Yourself." Anthrax's "Room for One More." The audience became more and more frenzied, which in turn pushed the musicians harder. The reciprocity of energy carried all the way to the rafters.


The Shirt Says It All. From left: Anthrax bassist Frank Bello, Exodus/Slayer guitarist Gary Holt, Down singer Phil Anselmo and Slayer guitarist Kerry King. (Photo: Christa Titus)

3. Billy Sheehan Plays Thrash (aka Sheehan is God, Part I)
Everyone knows Billy Sheehan could play Paganini on his bass if he felt like it. The virtuoso has performed with rock legends from David Lee Roth to Cozy Powell to Tony McAlpine, but he's never publicly dipped his toe in the thrash pool. The crowd lost its mind seeing him headbang alongside Kerry King, Gary Holt, Phil Anselmo and Dave Lombardo as the quintet galloped through Slayer's "Chemical Warfare." Watching him fit right alongside the metal icons was like discovering Santa Claus is real.

2. Van Halen's "Hot for Teacher" (aka Sheehan is God, part II)

With permission to suck granted during improvs, Frank Bello and Phil Anselmo gleefully screwed up lyric after lyric of "Hot for Teacher" while Charlie Benante kept the muddy drum beats pumping. As they giggled through Van Halen's comedic 1980s hit, Sheehan stole the show by effortlessly noodling through Michael Anthony's bass lines-and Eddie Van Halen's guitar parts-on his four-string, thus inspiring and intimidating thousands of kids who dream of becoming the next EVH.


Devil Horns or Ardent UT Longhorn Fans? Phil Anselmo's (right) b and Down starts touring in support of six-song package "Down IV Part I-The Purple EP" on Sept. 18 in Dallas. Texas is where Anselmo first made his musical mark when he joined the band Pantera in the '80s. He's shown here with SiriusXM Octane/Liquid Metal PD Jose Mangin, who hosted the show. (Photo: Christa Titus)


1. Slayer Is Not Hell's Theme Music (Arctic Monkeys Is)

During his teaching segment, Scott Ian fielded questions from the audience instead of strictly focusing on demonstrating Anthrax guitar riffs. Since Slayer has been branded with the "satan worshipper" tag a few times during its career, one fan raised the burning question of whether the band is the soundtrack in Hades. Ian is certain there's no Slayer to be found south of Heaven. "If you die, the devil wants to fuck with you," he explained. "The last thing you'll hear is Slayer, because you'd enjoy that." What, then, does Lucifer employ for eternal torture? "The Arctic Monkeys," Ian declared.