Archive for the ‘Metal – DVD’ Category

gusano).jpg***This review is regarding the single disc, UK Blu-Ray version only. Which contains the full uninterrupted concert only, with no special features or documentary footage.***

Now, you might be thinking ‘I’ve already got three Slipknot videos with concert footage on them’ if you already own Disasterpeices live in London from the Iowa touring cycle, (Sic)nesses live at Download festival 2009 on their first headline performance there during the All Hope Is Gone touring cycle, and the 2nd disc of the documentary release Voliminal Inside The Nine which had a smattering of live tracks from different dates and locations during the Vol. 3 touring cycle.

So what has Day Of The Gusano got to separate it from the others and make it worth buying as well? Well; first off, it is their first official concert video with the new rhythm section of Jay and Alex on drums and bass. Its their first ever show in Mexico City and the fans are energetic and grateful. Its their first video of a Knotfest performance and features all the associated spectacle and backdrops. It has songs from the .5 The Gray Chapter album, which obviously none of the previous videos will have had.

Comparing it to their other DVDs, there are 11 songs here that aren’t on Disaterpieces, including the rarely played ‘Metabolic’ off of Iowa, and ‘Me Inside’ & ‘Prosthetics’ off of the debut. There are 6 songs here that aren’t on (Sic)nesses at Download ’09. Compared to Voliminal‘s concert section, well, its a full length concert in a single location not just 9 random tracks from various locations, and none of it is in black & white.

So, onto ‘Gusano itself. (If you didn’t know already or bother to google that, its Spanish for ‘Maggots’ by the way, which makes sense, since y’know, they call their fans ‘Maggots’ and its filmed in Mexico). The audio visual quality of the release is really high. The picture quality, camera work, variety of shots, editing and general watching experience of the concert are the best that Slipknot have had to date. It is beautiful to look at, and there’s nothing distracting or interrupting about the editing. The performance visually has lots of pyro and fireworks and big backdrops and set pieces, fancy lighting. There’s  generally lots going on up there on stage… its big and flashy and never boring.

The mix and production are very good. The only niggle is that Corey’s vocals are a bit lower in the mix than any previous live efforts from the band, but that’s real nitpicking. Otherwise, the instruments are really clear and well balanced, you can make the kick drum out clearly in all situations, and its even easier to hear Craig and Sid’s stuff than usual too which helps you notice them a bit better. If there’s a key riff or drum fill or whatever its given priority and generally its all beefy, heavy and just plain well put together.

The band themselves’ performance will always make or break a concert though. All the audio visual quality in the world, with the most expensive fireworks and lighting can’t hide a crappy performance. Slipknot have been through different phases in that regard. Old bootlegs off of the first album cycle show them as a sort of messy raw jumble. On Iowa they were a tight well-oiled million dollar perfect live-band (I remember seeing them live in Belfast on that cycle and its still one of my favourite ever concert experiences all these years later). On Volume 3 they flipped between the two but generally they were let down by Corey’s vocals (both times I saw them on that cycle and indeed both their 9.0 Live album and Voliminal DVD from that cycle all suffered from Corey’s vocals not being as great as usual). On All Hope‘ however, they came back blazing and were incredible and put in career defining performances and Corey sounded like one of the world’s greatest ever frontmen.

Luckily, here, the band are really on top form. This is a fiery, energetic, fun performance that everybody seems into. There are no complaints about the new line up and they do a great job of trying to fill some pretty massive, childhood-defining, shoes. (Heck, Jay arguably plays ‘Vermilion’ better live here than on any of the other three officially released versions of it). The veteran members are all super practiced, tight and precise. Corey is really strong here, arguably the second-best that he’s ever been on an official release next to Download ’09. (There are some minor questions about that on ‘Sarcastrophe’ and ‘Prosthetics’ maybe, which are a bit sketchy perhaps, but for the majority of it he really, really nails it). Its also nice to see him making an effort to speak Spanish which he does rather a lot and appears really humble and grateful.

The one bit where all Slipknot concerts drag is during ‘Spit It Out’ when the band get all the audience to squat down so they can all jump (the fuck) up at the same key moment. The actual process of cajoling them all to squat down can be a bit boring to watch or listen to if you aren’t actually there yourself sometimes, but luckily here it really doesn’t drag on too long and they payoff is great; the image of the gigantic Mexican crowd all bouncing in unison is really rather impressive.

So just to go through the list: It looks great. It sounds great. The band play great. The setlist is different enough from previous live releases to be worth it. That setlist itself is also pretty great, doing a good job of pleasing fans with the songs they’d expect to hear (Old fans could never see a set without ‘(sic)’ or ‘Surfacing’ and newer fans would never accept a set without ‘Duality’ and ‘Psychosocial’ for example) with pleasing them by spicing things up a bit and not just repeating themselves every time. On a personal note as well, its just so damn nice that they played ‘Metabolic’ live. I’ve been banging on for years about it and how its my favourite Slipknot song and they’ve finally put it out on something. I’m very pleased about that. Underrated song!

Anyway, that’s just personal preference. Everyone has their pros and cons to any setlist by any band. I’m sure some people are gutted ‘Sulfur’ and ‘Left Behind’ are missing considering they were big singles. I myself am kind of surprised ‘Skeptic’ is missing. With its catchy-ass chorus its absolutely built for big audience sing-alongs. I’d have thought that would be in every live set ever following Paul’s death, but I guess maybe its too personal for them lyrically or something like that.

Overall; this is a damn fine release from the band and not one to miss out on. Not even if you’ve already got a lot of live material by them already, as discussed at the beginning. Its probably their best video album on purely video terms, and its really worthy of inclusion in your collection in the other aspects like tracklisting and performance. If you are desperate to see the documentary, don’t get this version, but if you, like me, only really want the concert then this is the perfect version (at the lowest price).

Magic Circle Festival Volume II is a concert DVD by the legendary Heavy Metal band Manowar. This set was to record the impressive endeavour Manowar had of performing their entire first six studio albums in full, during the 20th Anniversary for their seminal Kings Of Metal album in the summer of 2008 at the band’s own Magic Circle Festival. It was produced by the band’s own Joey DiMaio and released on Universal.

The setlist is comprised of highlights from this undertaking, from different venues in different countries such as Germany and Bulgaria. Interspersed between the live songs is documentary snippets firstly about the Magic Circle Festival and then about the making of those first six albums full of archive footage such as photos in the recording studio, handheld camera footage from early concerts and old music videos. Together it works really well (although my personal preference would’ve been to have a full documentary and a full concert but that’s just personal taste) and provides a lot for any fan to find entertaining. In addition, there’s also a second disc with music from the other bands at the festival (Cassock, Sixth Sense, Kobus, Titanium Black, Jack Starr’s Burning Starr, Metalforce and Holyhell) and bonus features.

The Manowar setlist is as follows:

Manowar, Fast Taker, Shell Shock, Death Tone, Hatred, Revelation (Death’s Angel), Black Arrows Of Doom (Bass Solo), Hail To England, Die With Honor, Warriors Of The World United, All Men Play On Ten, God Of Thunderpick (Solo), Animals, Blow Your Speakers, Violence And Bloodshed, Defender, Drums Of Doom And Destruction (Drum Solo), Blood Of The Kings, Pleasure Slave, Kingdom Come, The Crown And The Ring (Lament Of Kings), Bridge Of Death.
There’s also a bonus section of Mila Rodino and The Crown And The Ring (Lament Of Kings) on top of that. Sound is available in stereo and 5.1, picture is 16:9 anamorph, and region code is “All Regions.” It comes with a booklet with lots of photographs, tour information and liner notes.

Some of the tracks work really well in a live environment, whipping the crowd up and some may pull the pace back a little but overall the setlist is fairly strong. Eric Adams is a great performer and doesn’t perfectly emulate note for note the oldest material but gives it enough umph to compensate. The rest of the band are all generally enthusiastic, powerful and giving it their all – guitar leads smoke, drum fills are weighty and satisfying and Joey DiMaio lives up to the hype. The production values differ between the German and Bulgarian shows, with the German looking, sounding and being edited to a higher standard, but not enough for you to want to skip anything. The large international audience (filled with more flags than the Warriors Of The World album cover!) eat it all up and it all has that good live energy rather than feeling overdubbed and sterile.

For a band who pride themselves on their ludicrous over-the-top Metalness, they are very tasteful with the stage set, pyro and lighting. The only cringey bit (or awesome bit if you buy into the Manowar Hail True Metal way of thinking) is in the opening documentary bit, when there’s a big speech about Metalness (before the music has actually started). So if you want a Manowar DVD because you like Manowar’s awesome music rather than because you think they’re funny, then this is a very good option. With a huge setlist, a ton of bonus features and all that documentary footage and considering the visual, sound and audio quality of the German concert which makes up the majority of the main feature this DVD is really good value for money, and I’d really recommend it to those interested in the band. Even if you own Volume 1 already, the setlist is so different its totally worth picking up this too.

Helloween - High Live

Helloween – High Live

High Live is a concert DVD by the legendary German Power Metal band Helloween, recorded in Milan, Italy (and Gerona, Spain) in 1996 on the Time Of The Oath tour.

The main feature is a scorching 84-minute concert, in which an energetic and totally on-form band blast through a lot of material from Master Of The Rings and Time Of The Oath to an enthusiastic crowd. Just going off the performance, this is an absolute 5-star live album.

Songs like “Sole Survivor,” “Before The War” and “Power” sound absolutely blistering here, and I’d highly recommend checking it out on that basis. Andi’s vocals on his own material are absolutely excellent on this release, and Uli’s powerful, understated drumming absolutely kills.

There are a few downsides to the overall product however, such as the picture being a little soft and not the sharpest. The sound is pretty great in one way, and you really get that “live feel,” but you have to turn it up fairly loud for it to become clear, as things can sound a bit muddy on low volumes. Nothing show-destroying though.

The other potential downside is that at the end of some songs, it stops, when they cut to the other concert (eg. from Italy to Spain) and the transition isn’t perfectly smooth, which may interrupt the flow a little. Luckily this never happens in the middle of songs or anything outrageous like that, and for the most part isn’t actually too disruptive.

Apart from that, this is a pretty great main feature all round, and shows the band proving why they are still one of the biggest names in Power Metal. In terms of bonus features: There is a text “History” feature, a discography feature and a photo gallery. All your standard ‘90s DVD extras that don’t add too much really, but look good written on the back of the box.

There is also a five minute “review” feature by Malcolm Dome, which is a brief Metal Evolution style history lesson with a mixture of archive footage of the band and talking-head footage of Dome. The dialogue is a bit stiff and the audio is a bit muffled, but as a free extra its still worth a watch.

The track-listing for the main concert is:

1. We Burn
2. Wake Up The Mountain
3. Sole Survivor
4. The Change
5. Why
6. Eagle Fly Free
7. Time Of The Oath
8. Future World
9. Dr. Stein
10. Before The War
11. Mr Ego
12. Power
13. Where The Rain Grows
14. In The Middle Of A Heartbeat
15. Perfect Gentleman
16. Steel Tormentor

Overall; If you like the band, especially if you like the Deris era, then it’s a pretty worthwhile purchase. It shows the band at their Europe-conquering best, dripping with enthusiasm and playing like they mean it. The sound and editing are a tiny bit imperfect, but the band themselves more than make up for it.

Gamma Ray - Skeletons & Majesties Blu-Ray Review

Gamma Ray – Skeletons & Majesties Blu-Ray Review

Skeletons & Majesties Live, released in 2013, is a concert Blu-Ray from the legendary German Power Metal band Gamma Ray, taken from their 2012 performance in Pratteln, Switzerland. Like fellow Power Metal band Stratovarius’ recent Blu-Ray, this concert captures the last time the band would play with their longest serving drummer, in this case the superb Dan Zimmerman.

It’s a brilliant looking and sounding concert that clocks in at 2hrs 12min. The mix and sound in general are absolutely spot-on and really suits the band’s style. Everything is perfectly clear and balanced and it’s a real joy to listen to. For example, the keys are neither too overpowering or indeed inaudible, the vocals are just the right volume, the kick drum is loud and punchy and overall it all just has a nice powerful sound as a whole. The only nitpick is that the audience aren’t audible often, so when the band gets them to sing along it looks a bit like the audience don’t know the words, but with such a brilliant product overall that’s scarcely a problem.

The whole thing looks great too. They even put a lot of effort into the stage design, lighting and dry ice, this is no cheap affair. The picture for the most part is absolutely crystal clear (unless the stage lighting is interfering with the cameras).

The best thing about the whole affair is the tasteful and clean editing style. It isn’t bogged down in fancy effects or screen overlays too much, the shots don’t change so frequently you get motion sickness and miss all the guitar solos, and it never seems like the visuals just serve the director’s artistic vision rather than giving the fans what they want. Best of all the video and audio are perfectly synced. Sometimes concert films can get a little spoiled by the editing, but this one was handled just perfectly.

The performance from the band is absolutely brilliant and the band seem to be absolutely loving every minute, it’s a really fun performance, with a great atmosphere. Kai is a good front-man and gets the crowd involved as well as making little fun comments here and there about his bandmates. Dan hammers away at the drum kit energetically and the guitarists pull of some amazing solos and complex riffs and time shifts masterfully. Henjo even breaks out some high quality lead vocals briefly.

Kai’s former Helloween bandmate Michael Kiske comes onstage for three songs, adding his distinctive singing to ‘Time To Break Free’ ‘A While In Dreamland’ and a cover of Heloween’s ‘Future World.’

The rest of the 20-track setlist (19 and an intro) is a mixture of stuff from all eras of the band’s career, including the piano driven ballad ‘Farewell,’ and characterful acoustic reworkings of ‘Rebellion In Dreamland’ and ‘Send Me A Sign.’ The band mix fan-favourite tracks and some more obscure material, serious stuff and quirky stuff, fast stuff and slow stuff and it’s a real treat to watch altogether.

The bonus features include 22-minute of behind the scenes interviews with the roadcrew (in German), a 32-minute collection of archive footage from the early days, a six track additional concert from Zeche Bochum Germany (Tracklist: The Spirit, Wings Of Destiny, Farewell, Gamma Ray, Time To Break Free, Insurrection) and the Skeletons & Majesties EP as audio.

As to the Blu-Ray specifics, this version is Region 0, Single Layer Blu-Ray, English Subtitles are available, the sound options are Dolby Stereo 2.0 or Dolby Surround 5.1, its standard is PAL and the aspect ratio is 16:9. My copy came in one of the slimmer Blu-Ray cases.

Overall, this is a superb and hugely enjoyable Blu-Ray concert with a fantastic main feature and some nice bonus features. If you are a fan of the band I absolutely recommend it. To be perfectly honest I highly recommend this even if you aren’t a fan of the band yet. If you find that you like Metal concert films in general, this is a worthwhile investment. It drips with effort and conviction and you couldn’t realistically ask for a higher quality release.

**Oh, and if you found this review by search engine, when you discover it again on Amazon it is me posting it. It hasn’t been copied and pasted off here by a stranger, I post my reviews on Amazon as ‘Gentlegiantprog “Kingcrimsonprog.”’ So please don’t unhelpful-vote it because you thought it was stolen from me.**

Stratovarius - Under Flaming Winter Skies Blu Ray

Stratovarius – Under Flaming Winter Skies Blu-Ray

Under Flaming Winter Skies, Live In Tampere is the first official concert Blu-Ray by the legendary Finnish Power Metal band Stratovarius. It was filmed in Tampere, Finland on the Jörg Michael farewell tour and as such the crowd interaction is in Finnish (with English subtitles) and Jörg gives the crowd a farewell speech. In part, the setlist is built around him, such as the inclusion of `Speed Of Light’ because it was the first song he ever played with the band… although to be fair they’d have probably played that anyway.

The main feature lasts around 1hr 52mins and contains 22 tracks, which works out as 17 songs when you discount the intro, guitar solo, bass solo, keyboard solo and speech. There’s a Deep Purple (`Burn’) and The Who (`Behind Blue Eyes’) cover in there, as well as all the fan favourites you’d expect like `Eagleheart’ `Kiss Of Judas’ `Hunting High And Low’ `Paradise’ `Father Time’ `Black Diamond’ etc

The picture is absolutely fantastic, clear and sharp. Its helped a lot by a great but subtle stage show with intelligent use of lighting, and not too much dry ice as well as a tasteful and sensible editing job that is fast and contains enough movement to keep your interest but is slow and still enough so that you can appreciate the actual musicianship (of each member, as none are overlooked.)

The sound is even better with an absolutely crystal clear mix in which you can hear every stoke of every drum, each key get pressed (without the keys being too loud and overpowering the Metal) and every note the bass plays. The vocals are impressive and the crowd noise doesn’t overpower them, even though they sing almost every word and best of all, it all actually seems to be live and not obviously mimed or overdubbed (or indeed out-of-sync). In general, its just one of the best concert audio mixes that I’ve heard so far and very solid visually as well.

The biggest thing in this concert’s favour however is the sheer enthusiasm of the performance; the band are so into it and absolutely deliver on all levels. They are very interactive with the crowd, they interact with each other, Jörg twists and throws his sticks around, the guitars and mic stands are enthusiastically moved around and generally the band just look like they love being there.

In terms of extras; the booklet has a lot of high-quality photos and a little written interview with Jörg. The disc has a bonus 5.1 mix of the track `Elysium’ and there is a 29 minute documentary called `Rewinding From The Past To 2012.’ In terms of Blu-Ray Statistics; the screen format is 1080i/29,97/16:9(1,78:1) and the audio format is DTS HD MA 2.0/5.1 (although the documentary is only available in stereo), the disc format is BD-50 and the region code is: A/B/C.

Overall; this is an excellent, well made and masterfully performed concert Blu-Ray and I’d highly recommend it to anyone who’s into this sort of thing.

Queensrÿche - Mindcrime At The Moore

Queensrÿche - Mindcrime At The Moore

Mindcrime At The Moore is a live release by the progressive metal band Queensrÿche, recorded in the Moore Theatre in Seattle and originally released in 2007. It has been released on CD, DVD and Blu-Ray.

In terms of set list, the band performs the entire of their classic 1988 album Operation: Mindcrime and then its heavier 2006 sequel, back to back and in their original running-orders. There is also a two-song encore of ‘Walk In The Shadows’ and ‘Jet City Woman,’ from Rage For Order and Empire respectively, resulting in a total of 44 songs, lasting two hours and twenty nine minutes.

The performance as you may imagine is big and theatric, with lots of additional personnel on stage acting around the band. There are set pieces, props, costume changes for singer Geoff Tate and guest vocalist Pamela Moore, video screens and elaborate lighting, all helping to drive the narrative of the story that is told in the two concept albums.

The camera work, picture quality, direction and editing of the actual live performance is absolutely top-notch and when the screen is showing the band actually playing live this is a truly fine looking concert recording.

There is a lot of additional film footage and text that comes up on the screen augmenting the concert footage however, and because the theatrical performance was played out in front of aforementioned video screens much of the content from them is often shown superimposed over the live performance, or sometimes shown instead of the concert footage all together. For most people this will help you get into it even more but if you usually don’t like it when concert DVDs do this sort of thing then you may really hate this particular release, as the phenomenon is much, much more prominent here than usual.

Another potential problem is that during the first few tracks the audio seems to be ever so slightly out of synch with the visuals, however this is rectified by the time the title track of the first album is over. These two issues aside, the main feature is very good, especially once Geoff’s voice has warmed up and he can really lay into the material and get closer to the original performance.

In addition to the main feature, there is a brief twenty three minute tour documentary and a two minute feature about a charity motorcycle ride called ‘Rock and Ride’. The most interesting bonus feature however is an alternative version of ‘The Chase’ where Ronnie James Dio joins the band live, as opposed to in a pre-recorded video like in the main concert.

Overall, if you have issues with screen time being taken up by non-concert footage or are massively put-off by synching issues then it may not be the right release for you, but otherwise this is a very entertaining and interesting release that is definitely worth checking out.

Shadows Fall – Madness In Manilla DVD Review

Posted: October 24, 2011 by kingcrimsonprog in Metal, Metal - DVD, Music Reviews

Shadows Fall - Madness In Manilla DVD

Shadows Fall - Madness In Manilla DVD

Madness In Manilla is a live DVD/CD combo released in 2010 by the Massachusetts based American Metalcore band Shadows Fall, which was recorded live at Summerslam Festival in the Philippines back in 2009. The performance features a career spanning sixteen-track setlist that is balanced and which covers all the band’s most well known material as well as a few less expected numbers for variety.

This DVD is a proper full-length concert video of a single concert, as opposed to how either their previous DVD, The Art Of Touring or for example Down’s Diary Of A Mad Band were set out. Luckily for most concert fans, the set isn’t interspersed with home video footage or animations either, just the live performance from beginning to end.

The band play on a large outdoor festival stage along to an incredibly detailed light show, with all sorts of rotating, panning and altering lights, spots and colour changes, as well as lots of dry ice.

The camerawork features lots of movement, with all sorts of cranes and dollys employed along with the usual camera crew, the whole operation is a lot more complex and professional than any of the band’s previously available live videos from bonus discs and such things.

You get a lot of coverage of the instruments being played which is always a plus for viewers who are musicians and a good cover of the band’s famously proficient drummer Jason Bitner. What you also get to see a lot of is singer Brian Fair windmilling his knee-length dreadlocks, which is an interesting sight all things considered.

Whilst there are a lot of positives to be said about the visuals, there are some issues in the shot matching, occasional framing problems and the dry ice can effect the picture quality, it switches from incredibly high resolution shots on cranes and not so great images on handhelds. Furthermore the menus are cheap looking and basic so it isn’t as absolutely perfect as some bigger band’s festival DVDs or equally sized band’s indoor concert DVDs, but is still a strong release overall.

Standout tracks include the furious performance of early classic ‘Crushing Belial,’ which is opened with an enthusiastic yet expletive description of its epic status by Brian, which gives you a good idea of the energy and attitude that then goes into the ensuing performance. Other highlights include the Grammy nominated set closer ‘Redemption’ as well as the newer track ‘War’ which hammers away at a relentless pace.

Additionally; there are bonus features, which include four more live videos for ‘The Light That Blind,’ ‘Redemption,’ ‘Venous’ and ‘Thoughts Without Words,’ from Japan, The Philippines and Korea respectively, although the quality obviously isn’t as high as the main feature.

The sound and mix are great, so judging the product overall; the only real problems with the DVD apart from the previous mentioned visuals are subjective problems with Shadows Fall in general. If for example, you think their material is samey then sixteen tracks in a row may be a bit much for you, and similarly if you are used to their super-polished studio sound, then the live backing vocals or clean sections may well sound odd or strangely out of place.

Otherwise however, Madness In Manilla is a very good release from Shadows Fall that I would definitely recommend to fans. Due to its high sound quality and expansive setlist, it would make a fine introduction to the band for newcomers as well.