Metallica has been a constant in the music world ever since vocalist/guitarist James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich first founded the metal band in 1981. And as odd as it may sound, we’ve found comfort in the realness of Metallica’s thrashing on more than just a few occasions. So, in an attempt to capture some of our favorite moments from the Los Angeles-hailing band (albeit a difficult task), we’ve compiled six of their most unforgettable live performances below. Keep reading and we’re certain you’ll find yourself transported into the mosh pits of metal magic.

1. “Am I Evil” at the Levski Stadium in Sofia, Bulgaria (2010)

In perhaps one of the most epic moments in metal music, the Big Four of the thrash subgenre—Metallica, Megadeath, Slayer, and Anthrax—all performed at the same concert in 2010. On June 16, 2010, the four bands shared the stage for the first time in Warsaw, Poland. Then, the four bands repeated the performance for a videoed version of the concert in Sofia, Bulgaria, on June 22.

On top of that, the bands came together for one historic rendition of “Am I Evil?” by Diamond Head. (Most of the band members were present for the performance, but drummer Dave Lombardo was the lone Slayer representative.)

2. “Enter Sandman” at the Tushino Airfield in Moscow, Russia (1991)

As part of the annual hard rock and heavy metal concert series Monsters of Rock, Metallica played a set in Moscow for an audience of near mythological size. Estimations of Metallica’s crowd range from 500,000 to 1.6 million people in attendance. Also on the lineup for the 1991 Monsters of Rock concert were AC/DC, Mötley Crüe, Queensrÿche, and The Black Crowes.

“They brought AC/DC and Metallica to come play and there was a lot of excitement, but they weren’t really used to hosting rock shows,” Ulrich told Ultimate Guitar about the concert. “So if you watch the videos on YouTube, you’ll see how many soldiers were there.

“There were helicopters hovering over the audience. It was an incredible blend of enthusiasm and energy and chaos, and it was a complete cluster fuck. 1.6 million may be a little ambitious, but like I say, there were a lot of fucking people. It was a pretty crazy day,” he concluded.

3. “For Whom the Bells Toll” at the Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, California (1985)

Another standout live moment from James Hetfield’s long-haired days is Metallica’s rowdy 1985 Day on the Green performance. And at the beginning of the band’s now-legendary track, “For Whom the Bells Toll,” Cliff Burton rips an iconic bass solo. Burton, who unfortunately passed away in 1986 in a bus crash, is recognized as one of the greatest bassists of all time.

4. “Escape” at the Bader Field in Atlantic City, New Jersey (2012)

On the opening night of the Orion Music + More Music festival, Metallica did something that they’d never done before: They played their acclaimed 1984 album Ride the Lightning in its entirety from back to front. And, as it so happened, the band had never performed Ride the Lightning song “Escape” live before that night. Check out the first-ever performance of “Escape”—nearly three decades after it was released—below.

5. “Overkill” at Whisky a Go-Go in West Hollywood, California (1995)

Never a band to forget their roots, Metallica put on a tribute concert for Motörhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister in 1995. The concert was an homage to Lemmy for his 50th birthday, and Metallica assumed the band name “The Lemmys” for the occasion. The Lemmys were decked out in attire to look similar to the Motörhead rocker, and they never performed under that moniker again.

6. “Master of Puppets” in Antarctica (2013)

On December 8, 2013, Metallica performed a show called Freeze ‘Em All in Antarctica making the metal rockers the first band to play on all seven continents. The band played in an insulated dome for the set, and it is certainly one of the most bizarre setups we’ve seen for a concert.

Photo Credit: Anton Corbijn

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