Metallica Attack Bootleggers

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Metallica is gearing up to wage war ... against bootleggers.

The Grammy-winning metal band, fronted by James Hetfield, is taking immediate action to thwart the distribution of Bay Area Thrashers, an illegal bootleg tape that features an early configuration of the band. On the tape, previously circulated under the title No Life 'Til Leather, Megadeth's Dave Mustaine and fledgling bassist Ron McGovney fill the respective guitar and bass slots that would eventually be taken over by Kirk Hammet and Cliff Burton on the band's 1983 Elektra debut, Kill 'Em All.

Howard King, the band's manager, told JAMTV on Wednesday that someone took the demo, renamed it Bay Area Thrashers, artificially added crowd noise to make it look like a previously undiscovered live album and tried to sell it.

"Lars [Ulrich] was the first to hear and identify the tape," King said. "At first he was amused, but then he became angry. Someone was using Metallica's name to sell a butchered product. It was such a bad job of trying to disguise the origins of the music."

Two companies -- one in the United States, the other in Norfolk, England -- each had been packaging and selling the bootleg, King said. King served the U.S.-based company with a cease and desist order in early February, and so far they have complied. The English company was served with the order this week.

According to King, the bootleg copies of the demo, which Metallica owns the rights to, contain seven songs, including "Seek and Destroy" and "Motorbreath."

The band has contacted the Recording Industry Association of America and the British Phonograph Institute. King said BPI has lodged an investigation through the local trading standards authority, which is responsible for dealing with counterfeits and bootlegs. Although no one from Metallica's camp has yet spoken with the RIAA, a spokesman from the recording industry told JAMTV that when they are contacted, they will support the band in whatever way they can.

In related news, Metallica has tapped Jerry Cantrell and Days of the New as openers for their upcoming U.S. tour.