When System of a Down Subbed for James Hetfield

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It’s impossible to recreate James Hetfield’s voice. Though Hetfield had problems with his own voice, his bark on ‘Master of Puppets’ is practically trademarked. 

Accidents happen though, and Metallica got a nu metal makeover when Hetfield was out sick. 

On Metallica’s 2000 tour, Hetfield had gone jet skiing the day before the show and was not in good shape to perform. 

Instead of canceling the show, members of System of a Down hopped up on stage to play some tunes with the rest of the band, with Jason Newsted taking the lead vocal on ‘Master of Puppets.’

After going off without a hitch, Serj Tankian got onstage as well, performing a version of ‘Welcome Home Sanitarium’ and Daron Malakian playing Hetfield’s rhythm guitar part note perfectly. 

While ‘Puppets’ may have been a jam session, ‘Sanitarium’ is a much better collaboration. This is prime Tankian, and his screams on the chorus sound exactly like the kind of vocals that he was spewing over ‘Chop Suey’ and ‘Bounce.’ 

Since Tankian doesn’t have to worry about playing anything, his vocal runs are refreshing to hear in this song. Whereas Hetfield liked to bark at this stage, Tankian’s take is moodier than what we’re used to.

Shavo Odajian and Daron Malakian hold up their end too, sounding just as tight in the background and even rivaling Hetfield’s downstroke technique. 

 This might have been a favor, but it was a dream come true for System, with Jason Newsted saying from the stage

Daron came up to me last night when we had to put this show together. He says he knows every fucking Metallica song. It takes some big fucking balls to come up and play with Metallica, man. Motherfuckers are alright.”

Since we’re a long way from a System project, if only Metallica can return the favor with a thrash version of ‘Aerials.’

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Watch: When James Hetfield Dissed Layne Staley in the 90’s and Fans Threw a Shoe at Him