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Music

The moment Metallica became the first band to have play on all seven continents

When thinking of Metallica, the first thing that normally springs to mind is their legacy as thrash metal pioneers and one of the genre’s celebrated ‘Big Four’ alongside Anthrax, Megadeth and Slayer. After that, you might think of James Hetfield’s unmistakable and often ridiculously husky voice or perhaps that each member is a virtuoso in their own right.

Another key aspect of Metallica that most people forget is that they host the accolade of being Guinness World Record holders. In 2013, the band became the first musical act to play a show on all seven of the planet’s continents in what is an undeniably impressive feat. The band played to a small crowd of 120, a mixture of scientists and fans, the latter of whom had won a competition to see their heroes play amongst the staggering vistas of Earth’s most southerly landmass.

The metal icons played in a transparent dome at the Carlini Station, and it’s safe to say that the crowd loved it. That year, the band were busy, managing to perform on all seven continents in what is a mammoth task even for a group with all the backing of a major label. The Antarctica show was given the name ‘Freeze ‘Em All’ and saw Metallica play ten classics, including ‘Master of Puppets’, ‘One’ and ‘Enter Sandman’.

The interesting thing about this once in a lifetime Metallica show was the way that it was set up. The band played without a traditional PA system and amplification, as to have done so would have upset the fragile environment of the already unstable Antarctica. Amazingly, the band’s amps were stored in isolated cabinets, with the sound directed to the audience via headphones. In many ways, it was the same format as a silent disco, just without the silence.

Metallica teamed up with Coca-Cola, who organised the competition for fans in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica and Mexico to win the trip of a lifetime. The winners experienced a week-long cruise around Antarctica, which stopped off for the concert.

Another amazing thing about the show was that Carlini station is notoriously hard to get to. Located on King George Island in the South Shetland Islands, it is only accessible by air or water via Base Marambio.
This gave the show an even more exclusive feel, delivered in one of the Earth’s most remote locations.

Metallica wasn’t the first band to have played on Antarctica, though. In 2007, Nunatak, the Rothera Research Station’s house band, participated in the Live Earth concert. They were the only band to play in the worldwide event’s Antarctica concert and played to a “sell-out” crowd of 17, the Station’s entire population.

Watch Metallica’s ‘Freeze ‘Em All’ performance below.