Archive for the ‘Metal – DVD’ Category

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.

Advertisements

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.

Corrosion Of Conformity - Live Volume: The Movie

Corrosion Of Conformity - Live Volume: The Movie

Corrosion Of Conformity’s Live Volume: The Movie was recorded live in Detroit at the Harpo’s venue and released in 2001. This was the band’s first and to date only live DVD and captures the band live in support of their America’s Volume Dealer album from 2000.

Jimmy Bower, who plays alongside Pepper Keenan in the fantastic Phil Anselmo fronted super group Down, provides the drums for this live concert as the band were in between losing and reuniting with long time Drummer and founding member Reed Mullin.

The band really hammer home a strong and confident performance, aided by Bower’s fine drumming. Each member puts in a good show, the guitars are big and heavy as they should be, the bass really stands out and Pepper’s vocals stand up very well in the live environment.

The setlist is strong, concentrating mostly on the band’s Pepper Keenan era material. Standout tracks include `Wiseblood,’ and `King Of The Rotten’ as well as the big hits like `Clean My Wounds,’ and `Albatross,’ which go down a storm live.

The sound mix is pretty great, really conveying the heaviness and southern edge to some of the riffs and letting you hear what each member is doing perfectly for most of the duration.

In terms of camera work and visuals the DVD is also pretty successful and it has certainly aged better than some of the concert DVDs that were released around that era, some of which are now feeling comparatively dated.

If any complaint were to be leveled at this Live DVD it would be that the editing is perhaps a little overenthusiastic, there is a lot more double-exposure than one would expect, things brake into slow motion at unexpected points and there is sometimes a seeming desire to get across how much fun the fans are having, even at the expense of the visuals.

If you can forgive this one flaw then there is a lot to enjoy about C.O.C’s Live Volume: The Movie and I would highly recommend it.