Ah, the San Francisco Bay Area. To metalheads the world over this means just one thing: Thrash Fucking Metal!
The Bay Area was the petri dish in which this musical blitzkrieg fermented and evolved, forming an unstoppable momentum that would go on to take over the whole world.
Sounds hyperbolic? Dude, Metallica. Nuff said.
Murder in the Front Row is a hugely enjoyable documentary that explores and revisits those formative years of the Bay Area Thrash scene, interviewing just about every artist who got swept up in it, the movers and shakers who helped them break out of their niche, and even the friends and associates who have a good story to tell.
The early 80s Bay Area scene is, of course, already very well documented, but what sets Murder in the Front Row apart is that it was produced by people who were actually there, in the front row, shoulder to shoulder with all the other fans, rocking out to the featured bands.
There’s shit loads of dodgy, low quality footage shot by fans at the time, intercut with the biggest names from those self-same bands as they are now, recounting those very events. They’re all here; Lars Ulrich, James Hetfield, Kerry King, Kirk Hammet, Dave Mustaine, Chuck Billy, Rob Trujillo, Gary Holt and a hell of a lot more.
You’ll laugh at the stories from the infamous Metallica mansion, you’ll cry as the tragic death of Cliff Burton is recalled, and you’ll hurl after hearing all about the antics of the nefarious Slayteam!
It occurred to me after viewing that in the last two years alone I’ve seen six of the featured bands live on stage. Proof, not that it were needed, of the lasting impact of the Thrash Metal genre.
Murder in the Front Row is based on a book of the same name, so dust off those hi-tops and check them both out. Let the stage diving commence!