Archive for the ‘Rock Blu Ray’ Category

Angels Cry 20th Anniversary Live is a 2013 concert Blu-ray by the Brazilian Progressive/Power Metal band Angra. It features the line-up with Italian singer Fabio Lione (ex-Labyrinth, Rhapsody of Fire) on vocals performing material from all eras of the discography passionately – with some interesting guest appearances including Tarja Turunen (ex- Nightwish), Uli Jon Roth (ex-Scorpions), Amilcar Christófaro (Torture Squad) and the Familia Lima string section.
This set has quite high production values. Visually; the thing is an absolute gem. Top notch image quality, great camera work with tasteful editing, and the actual stage show contains interesting video screens with eye catching imagery. Its all just great for the eyeballs, which is why you’re getting a video recording and not an audio recording anyway, right? Well this is totally worth every penny in the visual department.

Sonically, the recording is crystal clear. You can hear every single note, every different drum and cymbal. Its like a Rush concert or something – brilliant clarity and definition. The only thing that’s not absolutely perfect is that in the stereo mix, the rhythm guitar is not as heavy as some of the studio versions, but it is still a brilliant mix nonetheless.   Best of all; The performance is beyond stellar; Fabio nails it recreating the band’s different singers’ work well and injects some of his own flair into the proceedings. The guitar solos are out of this world and the tireless drumming of Ricardo Confessori sounds great. Listening to and watching the interesting music is an absolute joy.
Highlights include the fantastic renditions of ‘Evil Warning,’ ‘Nothing To Say’ and the fantastic set closer ‘Nova Era.’ The enthusiastic São Paulo audience seem really into it.
Overall; Its an absolutely great concert DVD on a technical level, and better still it’s a great concert in and of itself. The line-up is strong, the setlist is great and the guest musicians add an extra layer of interest. I highly recommend this to fans of the band, fans of this end of the musical spectrum, and fans of good quality concert recordings. It would be an unquestionable treat for existing fans but would also work really well as a first purchase for newcomers.

Accept – Blind Rage

Blind Rage is the 14th full-length studio album by the legendary German Heavy Metal band Accept, and the 3rd since their triumphant reformation with the new Mark Tornillio-fronted line up. It was released on Nuclear Blast Records in 2014 and was masterfully produced (as with their previous two records) by veteran British producer Andy Sneap.

Right off the bat, let me just say that I absolutely love this record and would highly recommend that any fan of the band’s previous two records buy it without hesitation. Moreover any fan of the band or even just the genre should consider buying it. On my initial listen, it sent giddy shivers up my spine and had me thinking of phrases like “album of the year” and “career highlight” straight away, and even now when the early excitement has been tempered and attempts have been made to be rational and objective, this still feels like a very strong and important record on every single listen. It is at once both an immediate hit and a massive grower.

The style on the album is more-or-less the same style of modernized pure Heavy Metal from the last two albums; teetering smoothly on brink of early Power Metal and Hard Rock, topped off with the cherry of Mark Tornillo’s gravely Udo Dirkschneider-meets-Lemmy Kilmister (by way of Brian Johnson) vocal style. If you like pounding double-kick drums and guitar solos you want to sing along to, this is the sort of stuff for you. There are big riffs and chant-along backing vocals all over the place designed to make everything feel memorable and make you want to pump your fists in the air.

There are tracks here that could neatly slot into either of their previous two albums without looking out of place at all, and so in many ways, the album is partly a continuation of what the reunion line-up has been doing so far.

In other places however, the album has its own identity and overall it isn’t just a carbon copy of either Blood Of The Nations or the superb Stalingrad. Blind Rage diversifies into softer, more melodic and anthemic directions as well. Tracks like “Wanna Be Free” and “Dark Side Of My Heart” almost harken back to the Metal Heart spirit in a way. This makes sense as the band mentioned the classic Accept sound a lot in interviews at the time of this album’s promotion and the climax of the album-closer “Final Journey” sonically references the track “Metal Heart” itself.

Highlights include “Dying Breed” – a mid-paced number which lyrically pays tribute to other legendary bands like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Saxon etc. – as well as the catchy single “Stampede” (a real grower indeed) and the speedier “Bloodbath Mastermind.” That being said this is an absolutely rock-solid album with no filler or weak moments at all.

Overall, Blind Rage is an absolutely stunning record. There are so many memorable moments and catchy riffs on here that it almost doesn’t hit you right away just how very well-written and impressive it is. The performances are great, the production is immaculate and I have nothing but praise for the songs themselves. I highly recommend picking yourself up a copy if you are in any way interested.

****

The edition I bought comes in a fat digipak contained within a slipcase. It is packaged with the Live In Chili 2013 concert on Blu Ray.

The tracklisting is as follows:
Intro/Hung Drawn And Quartered/Hellfire/Restless And Wild/Losers And Winners/Stalingrad/Breaker/Bucket Full Of Hate/Monsterman/Shadow Soldiers/Amamos La Vida/Guitar Solo/Neon Nights/Bulletproof/Aiming High/Princess Of The Dawn/Up To The Limit/No Shelter/Pandemic/Fast As A Shark/Metal Heart/Teutonic Terror/Balls To The Wall

Here are the Blu Ray specs:
Resolution 1080p, Sound PCM Stereo, Region All, Running Time 121mins.

This is excellent value for money as it isn’t the usual low–quality bonus disc; the performance is great, it sounds pretty decent, the editing is fairly tasteful and in all honesty it almost feels like a proper release that could stand up as its own product if it had more sound options and a few extras. Very occasionally it looks overdubbed or there’ll be a silly editing choice, but it is for the most part well-made. It is great to see the reunion line-up absolutely tearing it up live and the mix of newer material with the usual concert-favourites makes it feel vital and exciting.

If the price difference isn’t too much I’d definitely recommend getting this version.

****

**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.**

In summary:

Thumbs Up For Blind Rage

Iced Earth - Live In Ancient Kourion

Iced Earth – Live In Ancient Kourion

Live In Ancient Kourion is a live concert Blu-Ray from the American Power Metal band Iced Earth. It was filmed at the ancient Kourion Theater in Limasol, Cyprus (a site with a 6,000-year history according to the liner notes) in 2012, in support of the Dystopia album. The line up features Jon Schaffer, Brent Smedley, Troy Steele, Luke Appleton and then-new singer Stu Block.

The career-spanning set contains 27 songs from all eras of the band’s history, in a concert that lasts around 2 hours and 35 minutes. Its pretty great value for money in that regard.

The performance is very strong indeed, with all band members putting down solid performances with no weak links. Stu capably handles the material of previous singers Matt Barlow and Tim Ripper Owens in a suitable but distinctive way. He fits the band perfectly and is immensely talented. Elsewhere; the dual guitar lines and solos are sublime and the drumming is powerful and rock-solid. If you like Iced Earth then this is a really strong and representative example of what they are all about.

Highlights include strong performances of ‘Burning Times,’ ‘Wolf,’ ‘Declaration Day,’ ‘Days Of Rage’ and ‘Dantes Inferno.’ ‘Boiling Point’ and ‘Damien’ are also especially energetic and exciting here – if you were wondering if you’d enjoy this release, then I suggest trying those two tracks out.

The stage design and the simple, tasteful lightshow in conjunction with the well-integrated use of smoke and pyro perfectly complements the band’s meaty, honest approach to Metal music. The crowd get into it and both clap and sing along on many occasions. Sometimes not only singing the words but also the guitar melodies. The concert really shows a confident band delivering their best to an appreciative crowd.

The camerawork and editing are absolutely solid, the audio recording quality and live mix are spot-on and overall this is a very strong release on both the audio and visual fronts. Sometimes you’ll get a DVD with way too many flashy transitions and cheesy editing choices, or the bass guitar missing from the mix, but a lot of care has obviously gone into making this a tasteful and musician-friendly affair. Admittedly I have seen concert Blu-Rays with better picture quality (Sabaton, Gamma Ray, Stratovarius and Hammerfall spring to mind) and here it can be a tiny bit grainy, soft-focus or washed out at times depending on the lighting conditions in the venue at the time however just because better examples exist, it doesn’t mean the picture here is anything to complain about.

In terms of bonus features there are photo galleries (4 minutes of very high resolution photos of the band and the beautiful Cypriot landscape), a 9-minute world tour story (breaking down the logistics involved such as how many guitar picks and flights the band went through) which mixes photos and graphics with interview footage, as well as the 31-minute Documentary feature “The Making Of Live At Ancient Kourion.”

The version I got comes with a slipcase in a digibook-style box which contains booklet featuring photos, credits and liner notes from bandleader Jon Shaffer. It houses the Blu-Ray version, DVD version and CD version of the concert for maximum flexibility.

The Blu-Ray specs are as follows: Region 0, Format 16:9, Audio comes in a choice of Dolby Digital 2.0 or DTS HD Surround 5.1.

Overall; Live In Ancient Kourion, especially this edition, is a very worthwhile release and I whole-heartedly recommend it to fans of the band, or fans of Traditional Heavy Metal and Power Metal in general.

Testament Blu

Testament Blu

The Dark Roots Of Thrash is a Live Blu-Ray from the American Bay Area Thrash Metal band Testament, capturing them on the touring cycle for their Dark Roots of Earth album. It’s a 19-track, 130-minute concert video filmed on February 15th, 2013, live at the Paramount Theater, Huntington, New York. (It is also available in other formats such as MP3, Vinyl, CD and DVD).

The concert features the Chuck Billy, Eric Peterson, Greg Christian, Alex Skolnick, Gene Hoglan line-up, playing a career spanning set featuring a fine balance of tracks from the 80s like ‘Over The Wall’ and The Haunting’, modern favourites like ‘Rise Up,’ and ‘More Than Meets The Eye’ and even some tracks from the middle of their career like ‘D.N.R’ and ‘Riding The Snake.’ They play to an enthusiastic and packed audience, with a professional stage show full of banners and strobes. Best of all, the band deliver a very good performance, packing a lot of energy and umph into the delivery. Testament really seem on top of their game here, and you won’t be disappointed at all by how the band play live. They absolutely nail it.

The sound quality and mix are top-notch, delivering a crunchy, metallic sound job that perfectly suits the band, nicely balancing all the instruments and not ignoring nor overemphasizing the crowd. The visuals are good too, the camera work and picture quality are great.

The only minor let-down is that the editing is a bit too enthusiastic, and uses tricks like turning to slow motion or black and white a little too often. Its not so distracting that it’s a deal-breaker, in fact if you don’t watch concert videos all the time you mightn’t even notice, but there was something that was just “off” enough to warrant comment.

The Blu Ray specs are: 1080p, PCM Stereo, Region: All.

The version I bought came in a Steelbook, with 2CD version of the concert too.

In terms of extra footage; The music video for ‘Native Blood’ is included. There’s also a feature called ‘bonus footage’ which is an 11-minute montage of performance footage, recording, photoshoots and fans screaming, set to the tune of studio recordings of ‘Dark Roots Of Earth’ and ‘Man Kills Mankind.’

Overall; this is an excellent concert by an excellent band, and it sounds great to match. If you’ve already got the Live In London DVD, this is still worth getting due to the varied setlist, the interesting stageshow and the addition of Gene Hoglan. If you are hyper-sensitive about quirky editing jobs I’d advise having a test-watch before buying, but for everyone else the strength of the sound, look and performance make it an absolutely worthwhile release.

Sabaton – Swedish Empire Live Blu Ray Review

Posted: November 2, 2013 by kingcrimsonprog in Metal, Metal - Live, Rock Blu Ray

Sabaton – Swedish Empire Live Blu Ray

Swedish Empire Live is the first concert Blu Ray by the Swedish Power Metal band Sabaton.

The main show was shot at Poland’s Woodstock festival in 2012. The scale of the gig is pretty incredible. The audience is bigger than half-a-million people! In fact, during the show frontman Joakim postulates that if the audience were a city, it would be the 2nd-biggest city in Sweden. Naturally, when the crowd chant along with the band its pretty special.

The stage, screens, light-show and pyro are all suitably impressive to match the occasion. Its not a theatrical affair admittedly, but it is definitely visually impressive. There are plenty of fireworks on stage and a tasteful but grand lighting set up that help the concert to feel massive. When they float a gigantic flag out over thousands of audience members at one point it looks pretty incredible.

The band are not intimidated by the occasion, and fill the space well with big gestures, confident stage banter and excellent stage presence all around, you get a real sense of personality on display as they smile, joke or gratefully thank the crowd throughout. The new members Chris Rörland, Thobbe Englund and Robban Bäck all fit like a glove and act as if they’ve always been there. Longtime members Joakim Brodén and Par Sundström are absolutely commanding and really dominate the crowd, keeping their energy levels and enthusiasm sky high throughout the whole two-hour main feature (although that length includes credits and some brief interview footage before and after the fantastic uninterrupted main concert). Its so great to see the band having fun, being showmen and rocking out hard, all in one show. They really hammer the material and make the songs sound huge.

With a brilliant performance, a brilliant setting, an enthusiastic crowd and an expansive setlist, the only thing that could let this down would be the technical side of things. Luckily, the camera work, editing, sound recording and mixing are all flawless. I own a lot of concert films, and this is definitely one of the better ones that I have seen. The directing is tasteful, the cuts aren’t too quick, the sound is clear, bombastic and powerful, and without effort you instantly can hear everything you’d want at the level you’d want it at. Bottom line, it both looks and sounds great.

The main feature is available in PCM stereo or DTS HD Master Audio (which is 5.1) and you can choose English, German or polish subtitles, which comes in handy for the interviews.

If this release contained only the main feature and nothing else it would still be an absolute must-buy, but just to make it even better, its absolutely crammed full of extras. It is available in several different formats (Vinyl etc.), editions (Earbook with bonus CDs and DVDs) and through exclusivity deals (eg. Specific version exclusive to Amazon) but for the purposes of describing the extras and packaging, this review will concentrate on the normal Two-Disc Blu Ray version.

There’s a brief charity documentary, and then three addition live shows. The first is a 16-track mixture of material from Gothenburg, Oberhausen and London, and the second two are the Gothenburg and Oberhausen gigs in full, at 17 and 13 tracks respectively. If you want the full London gig, it is available on the more expansive editions.

There is a fair bit of crossover in the tracklists among these extra concerts, and they don’t have selectable sound options or as clear a picture as the main feature, but considering that they are extras, and that the band themselves are so good live, this isn’t too much of a problem. They are all still well made and enjoyable in their own right, and each are in different sized venues, have unique stage banter and track-orders, and fit the pyro and lighting rigs in different ways, so its pretty interesting to have these extras even just to play “spot the difference.” There are English subtitles available for all the bonus live shows.

The Two-Disc Blu Ray version comes in a DVD-sized Digipak case (as in its taller than a normal Blu Ray case) with a Card Slipcase over the top of that. It has a yellow spine and comes with a booklet containing credits, photos and linear notes.

Overall; This is an absolutely fantastic, expertly crafted product with lots to explore, and the main feature is absolutely stellar. I am highly impressed with it and I would highly recommend it not just to fans of the band, or even just fans of the genre, but to any fan of concert films. This is a master class in how to do it right.

Hammerfall - Gates Of Dalhalla Blu Ray Review

Hammerfall – Gates Of Dalhalla Blu Ray

Gates Of Dalhalla is a live concert recording by the Swedish Power Metal band Hammerfall, recorded with the Cans/Dronjak/Norgren/Larsson/Johansson line-up and released on Nuclear Blast in 2012. I got the basic Blu-Ray version although its also available in other editions such as on DVD with a two CD set of the audio from the concert.

This is an example of a really good concert movie. No interruptions, no crazy special effects, no overenthusiastic editor making it too busy for you to concentrate, just absolutely superb audiovisual quality and a considered, musician-friendly editing job where you actually get to see the instruments being played. The camera work and picture quality are great, the sound and mix are exemplary and overall its definitely of the better looking and sounding concert Blu-Rays that I’ve seen so far.

The stage and concert-grounds themselves are beautiful and interesting looking, and there’s a tasteful and effective light show, a big Hammerfall logo banner and some fireworks.

There’s a brief and tasteful drum solo that doesn’t drag on too long, there’s guest appearances on a few songs (Stefan Elmgren, Mikael Stanne, Jesper Stromblad, Roger Pontare, Momo Jord & Crucified Barbara) and extra musicians (Team Cans) but without robbing either the spotlight or the momentum. There’s a mixture of old material and newer material without making the setlist feel muddled.

Most importantly of all, the band absolutely nail it. Its an energetic, crystal clear and big performance from each and every member. The drums are pounded, the vocals are impressive and the guitar solos are flawless. Joacim’s onstage banter is even rather amusing. The whole atmosphere is one of class and perfection, without losing that crucial feeling of urgency.

Its just over two hours of absolutely top-quality Metal; lovingly played, lovingly recorded and lovingly produced, with a career spanning setlist and an interesting setting.

The setlist is as follows: ‘Patient Zero,’ ‘Heeding The Call,’ ‘Any Means Necessary,’ ‘B.Y.H,’ ‘Riders Of The Storm,’ ‘Let’s Get It On,’ ‘Crimson Thunder,’ ‘Renegade,’ ‘Blood Bound,’ ‘Last Man Standing,’ ‘Fury Of The Wild,’ ‘Drum Solo,’ ‘Always Will Be,’ ‘Dia De Los Muertos,’ ‘Steel Meets Steel,’ ‘Threshold,’ ‘The Dragon Lies Bleeding,’ ‘Let The Hammer Fall,’ ‘Nar Vindarna Viskar Mitt Namn,’ ‘Something For The Ages,’ ‘The Templar Flame,’ ‘Oh Fortuna,’ ‘Glory To The Brave,’ ‘One More Time,’ ‘Hammerfall,’ ‘Hearts On Fire.’

This version comes in a slim Blu Ray case, with a booklet containing credits, photos and a list of tourdates. There is also a bonus ‘Behind The Scenes’ which lasts around nine minutes. The Blu Ray specs are as follows: Screen – 1080p, Sound – PCM Stereo, Region – All, Running time – 151 minutes.

Overall; if you like the band this is an absolute must-have purchase. If you like Power Metal in general you should definitely try it out as it’s a fantastic product and a good introduction to the band, and if you just like concert movies in general, its worth checking out to see one that’s just absolutely nailed on all accounts.

Anathema – Universal Blu Ray

Universal is a concert recording by the British band Anathema, released in 2013 on K Scope records. The concert was shot in support of the band’s Weather Systems album at the Ancient Theatre of Phillipopolis, Bulgaria on the 22nd of September featuring the Plovdiv Philharmonic Orchestra. The concert was shot while the band were in support of their Weather Systems album from 2012 and their setlist draws heavily from both it, and the previous two full-length studio albums We’re Here Because We’re Here and A Natural Disaster.

The performance is of a very high quality, delivering equally well on the energetic sections of songs, and the shimmering, beautiful quiet sections. The astounding vocal trio of Vincent Cavanagh, Daniel Cavanagh and Lee Douglas, both blend and then contrast their vocal styles to great effect, the rest of the musicians deliver everything with both precision and passion and the Orchestra provide colour and texture, really filling out the sound.

The mixing job is pretty much perfect and all the instruments are arguably balanced as well as they would be on a studio album, with only the added humanity felt in the vocal and drumming performances giving away that it’s a live affair.

The visuals are great, with a tasteful stage show in the beautiful ancient theatre, a subtle light show and the Orchestra to draw your eye when the band aren’t moving much. The camera work and editing is slow and musician-friendly, letting you get a good look at what people are playing rather than zooming frantically from one shot to another every second.

The track listing for the main show is as follows: ‘Untouchable Parts 1&2,’ ‘Thin Air,’ ‘Dreaming Light,’ ‘Lightning Song,’ ‘The Storm Before The Calm,’ ‘Everything,’ ‘A Simple Mistake,’ ‘The Beginning And The End,’ ‘Universal,’ ‘Closer,’ ‘A Natural Disaster,’ ‘Deep,’ ‘One Last Goodbye,’ ‘Flying,’ ‘Fragile Dreams,’ ‘Panic,’ ‘Emotional Winter/Wings Of God,’ ‘Internal Landscapes’ ‘Fragile Dreams (Reprise)’

The bonus feature included is a set of five tracks taken from the stripped down, A Night At The Union Chapel concert, the track listing for which is as follows: ‘Kingdom’ ‘Thin Air’ ‘Angels Walk Among Us’ ‘A Natural Disaster’ ‘Fragile Dreams.’ This feature is similarly well recorded, mixed and edited and no simple throw-away. There are some tracks repeated from the main feature, but their alternative, more unplugged (not completely, but close) style makes it worth having both versions.

The Blu-Ray comes in a slim case with a booklet full of photos and the credits. The visuals are NTSC. The main menu only features play and track selection options, and there are no alternative audio (or subtitle) options which may upset some viewers, however I personally was incredibly happy with the audio provided as standard. There are other editions available, for example on Burning Shed with more extensive features, such as a CD of the audio, but as a cheap and simple version of the main concert, this edition certainly delivers it.

Overall, I’m very satisfied with this well made and well performed, good looking and good sounding Blu-Ray Anathema concert, and as long as you like the band and don’t have an issue with the lack of audio options, or the setlist, then I highly recommend picking up a copy.