This Saturday, for the first time in America in over 25 years, Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax will take the stage as the Big Four in Indio. The metal titans have played European festivals before, but their sole American date (so far, anyway) is seeing people fly in from around the world to witness a part of history. Since countless musicians, artists and industry executives have grown up worshipping the four bands, Metal Insider asked a cross section of them the following question:

Which of the Big Four bands playing on Saturday means the most to you and why?

Benjamin Weinman (The Dillinger Escape Plan): All the bands on the BIG 4 had a huge impact on me growing up but Megadeth was probably the most influential. I loved pretty much all metal but the eclectic and innovative guitar playing on all of the Megadeth records really pushed me to think more creatively with my playing. Lyrically Megadeth also seemed to explore interesting territory and as a young person who simultaneously listened to punk and metal i could really appreciate that.

Don Jamieson (Comedian/That Metal Show co-host): I have seen Anthrax many, many times including a classic show at the Beacon Theater NYC with Exodus on the “Among The Living” tour (ed note: actually it was State of Euphoria tour). I’ve seen Megadeth almost as many times including an amazing show on the original “Rust In Peace” tour. And of course, Metallica has always delivered the goods especially opening for Ozzy in NJ on the Masters tour. But the ONE band that I have NEVER seen live is SLAYER! So this weekend they are the band that means the most to me.

Roger Miret (Agnostic Front): Out of all the big 4 bands, AF’s favorite would have to be Slayer! They’ve been the most consistant over their career. Never coming off soft, theyve always been aggressive! They’ve never compromised for popularity, or changed their style for mainstream success. After all these years they still keep it fresh and exciting. Not to take away from any of the other bands,  (because we have respect for all the big 4 bands and their contribution to metal) But at the end of the day Slayer’s catolog stands alone!

Doc Coyle (God Forbid): Some people say that just because a band is popular, doesn’t mean they are good. In fact, they argue contrary to that point, stating that because the masses are idiots, it verifies how trite and watered down said musical act is. I don’t agree with this philosophy. Specifically regarding Metallica. They are my favorite band in the world. Trying to pinpoint and verbalize why one band is the most important and meaningful to me is not so easy because many of those reasons are emotional and autobiographical.

As abstract as it is, I really think it has to do with this aura of “big” that cocoons Metallica. Their songs are big and seem almost meant to be played in the arenas and stadiums of the world. There is a symbiotic feeling being surrounded by tens of thousands of people united in a positive movement of energy even if we are united in chanting the word “Die!” in the climax of “Creeping Death”. I can only imagine this is the connective feeling religious people find in a spiritual gathering.

The only metaphor that seems to fit is the ocean.  Although it is immense, vast, and beautiful, it also has the power to move and reshape the shores it meets the world over. Metallica and the bands of their ilk have this same power culturally. Whether people want to hear it or not, you do not reach this level without being the best at what you do.  And Metallica is the best….period.

Tom Englund (Evergrey): Easy pick for me, without a doubt Metallica! I have to compare the songwriting and the contribution to the metal-scene in general and then I really can´t see no-one before them. However I am also a major Slayer fan and spent countless hours listening to South of Heaven and Reign In Blood…BUT as I said I spent twice as many hours banging to “Ride The Lightning”, “For Whom The Bell Tolls” and “One!”

Steffen Kummerer (Obscura): Megadeth for their incredible guitar work. Mustaine is an underrated guitarist. Metallica for timeless classics, the songwriter skills are fantastic. Slayer for being the most brutal band on this planet, their dynamics mean to start fast and heavy and get faster and more heavy by each minute. Anthrax for their entertainer skills, a DVD collection without Anthrax & Al Bundy is not worth calling it a collection.

Matt Olivo (Repulsion): Slayer. Because when we booked them to play in Flint, Michigan in 1984 (yes, 1984, kiddies) they played with balls, heart and intensity.  Absolutely nothing has changed with this band since then…nuff said.

Here’s proof:

James May (Black Tusk): Well first of all, I just want to say every band of the Big 4 rule! All of them have definitely shaped thrash metal and all deserve respect. If I had to chose just one though it would be SLAYER. I remember the first time I heard them I was in elementary school. My older cousin turned me on to them so I rushed to the store and purchased “Seasons…”. That album was so awesomely evil I felt like I was doing something wrong just by listening to it! (and was completely addicted to it). Of course, after that I started getting my hands on all the Slayer I could find! Through the years they have released album after album of raw, slaytanic, twistedly sick music that will always be offensive to the norm and I think that’s truly what metal is all about. So on that note, they are my pick for the best of the Big 4. Remember GOD HATES US ALL!!!!! SLAYER F$@KIN RULES! They are the soundtrack for hell!

Geoff Thorpe (Vicious Rumors): Megadeth . Dave made it big twice! That says a lot about him!
Metallica are metal gods! But Dave did it twice! Megadeth kicks Ass!!

Brian Allen (Vicious Rumors): Slayer because they are the most consistent and always stayed true to the Metal never faltering nor wavering from what is pure!!

Leonard Leal (Cephalic Carnage): I was able to catch each of these bands on there rise to becoming the big 4! I saw Metallica with Armored Saint at the Rainbow Music Hall in Denver, CO on the Ride The Lightning tour. Cliff Burton blew my mind. I also got to see Slayer and Overkill on the Reign in Blood tour, Exciter And Megadeth right when “Killing is My Buisness” came out! And Anthrax on the Spreading the Disease tour the night their roadie broke his leg, becoming caught in a mosh. I dig all these bands in their own right for what they have done for metal over the years. Its good to see that they can play a show like this for their fans, the ones who were there from the beginning. I would have to say I am most inspired by early Slayer. But of the ones I would most like to see is Anthrax cause they just crush these days. I am very honored to have been able to go to the Rainbow Music Hall! Watching and supporting all these legends in the making in their early years and its good to see them going strong to this day. Thrash till yer neck hurts.

Paul (Black Anvil): Metallica. They’re a band that’s not afraid to do what they want to do, and I respect that 100%. I hold Danzig in the same regard. He does what HE wants, and nothing stops him. So they cut their hair & put out some records that weren’t Ride The Lightning, to me that’s ok.. . Because I own Ride The Lightning, so… I don’t need a copy of it. They see what they do as a progression, to me, that’s all that matters. I’ll always find good in what they do. Hetfield can write a song like no other. There’s always mystery, for the most part they keep their politics to themselves, unlike other whiners that make their weak/pathetic presence too known. Fuck it, I don’t give a fuck what anyone else thinks. What’s not to respect? I back Slayer & Anthrax as well, these days maybe not as much than in earlier years of my existence, but Ill always pick up the new records.

Matthew Marcellus (This or the Apocalypse): Metallica was one of the first metal band I ever listened to. Prior to that i was mostly listening to pop and punk.  I was introduced to Metallica by a close friend around the time reload came out, and then picked up the Black album, Kill ’em All & Ride the Lightning. Because of those albums and bands like Pantera, I slowly began to become much more of a metalhead.

Jack Esbenshade (This or the Apocalypse): Honestly, all are awesome. If I had to pick one that influenced me in a larger scale, it would be Metallica. They were one of the first bands that introduced me to metal. I know that Metallica are the more known, and more commercial act out of the four, but as a young kid they were the easiest to digest. I would have to say that Master of Puppets is my favorite album, like most people probably think.

Mike Hill (Tombs): For me, Slayer is the band. I’ve consistently enjoyed their music for almost their entire career, the only record of theirs that I can’t endorse is Diabolos in Musica, but even that one isn’t too bad and they quickly revised their plan of attack. When you listen to a Slayer record, you know exactly what you’re going to get, Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman are two of the best metal riff writers ever, second only to James Hetfield. The three of them wrote riffs that will last forever. Slayer also had the most extreme vibe out of the “Big 4”, they were way scarier than Metallica, Anthrax and Megadeth. They had the whole satanic trip happening, songs about serial killers, Nazis and nuclear warfare, and it was all complimented by serious riffage. The biggest disappointment is Metallica. I loved everything they did up until “…And Justice for All” but after that I checked out. The most heartbreaking thing about them is that they were such a groundbreaking band; who made a record like …And Justice for All back then?

Check out part 1 here