Posts Tagged ‘Blu Ray’

Bullet-For-My-Valentine-Live-From-Brixton-Chapter-TwoLive From Brixton: Chapter Two is a 2017 crowd-funded live album from the Welsh Heavy Metal band Bullet For My Valentine. Its their second live album filmed at the venue, hence the title (as they had released one way back at the start of their career about a decade earlier). It is available in many formats and combinations but my review will concentrate on the single disc Blu Ray version.

The release captures the band live in London in December 2016, towards the end of their touring cycle for the underated Venom album (my favourite BFMV album personally in case you were wondering) and consists of two full concerts. Firstly there is a normal set in support of the Venom album with a nice mix of material throughout their career and an extra focus on Venom. The second concert is a special performance where the band play their popular debut album The Poison in its entirety (with an encore of four extra songs to close out the evening). Its great that they filmed both of these because either one on their own would make a stunning live album and its great not to have to sacrifice one for the existence of the other. There are a few tracks in both sets but overall they are very different and the crossover is minimal. The track listing is as follows:

Night One:

1. V (Intro) 2. No Way Out. 3. Skin. 4. Your Betrayal. 5. Scream, Aim, Fire. 6. Venom. 7. Four Words To Choke Upon. 8. You Want A Battle? Here’s A War. 9. The Last Fight. 10. Hears Burst Into Fire. 11. Alone. 12. Worthless. 13. Hand Of Blood. 14. Don’t Need You. 15. Tears Don’t Fall. 16. Waking The Demon.

Night Two:

1. Intro. 2. Her Voice Resides. 3. Four Words (To Choke Upon) 4. Tears Don’t Fall. 5. Suffocating Under Words Of Sorrow (What Can I Do) 6. Hit The Floor. 7. All These Things I Hate (Revolve Around Me) 8. Room 409. 9. The Poison. 10. Ten Years Today 11. Cries In Vain 12. Spit You Out 13. The End. 14. V (Intro) 15. No Way Out. 16. Your Betrayal. 17. Waking The Demon. 18. Don’t Need You.

Already, value for money is excellent with two entire full-length headline concerts in one package adding up to a 161-minute runtime. And that’s primarily made up of songs by the way, not wasted on indulgent piano solos or annoying onstage rants. But hey, that’s all well and good from a marketing perspective. How good are the concerts themselves? How good is the concert film? How good is the sound of this live album? These are what really matter at the end of the day. The answer to all of which is ‘utterly fantastic.’

I was at the Manchester set from this tour so saw how good the performance was first hand (and am smug enough to report I caught Mike’s drumstick at the end!). Just like my experiences in person in the north of England, down in London things were equally electric by the look of it. The band just seem so into it; Guitarist Padge and drummer Michael Thomas always seem like they are having such fun. The childlike glee on their faces when they nail a difficult part or lay into a crunchy groove just comes across perfectly. Its great to see a band who are so enthusiastic and entertained by what they do. (Which is almost odd considering the reputation they have among Metal elitists who call this cynical corporate kiddie music. …Oh well, their loss!). Matt Tuck can deliver that clean singing really well live too, that is not easy to pull off! Do you know the best thing too? It all sounds so much rawer, heavier and more energetic live than on record. Maybe its their overly slick production jobs on some of those albums that put fans of heavier music off, but live this stuff sounds ferocious. If you doubt me, listen to ‘Scream, Aim, Fire’ live. Its like a fucking Testament song! (Hardly cynical kiddie music!).

First thing outside of the band’s performance to discuss is how this looks. The sheer amount and variety of lasers and lights is ridiculous. Its like a competition to see how elaborate a lightshow can get. During the intro to night two you’d almost be forgiven for thinking you accidentally put on a Pink Floyd concert…that’s how much effort they put into the light show! There’s also a big BMFV backdrop (which the camera personnel use to great effect for framing). There’s pyro. The band are all sharply dressed in suave gentlemen’s suits. Visually its just stunning. Captured in High Definition it looks wonderful. The camera work is great. A real beautiful looking concert film. The editing is tasteful and well paced too. Its not overly stylized or choppy million-shots-a-minute stuff so you can’t even concentrate on the musicians playing their instruments. No; Its really well filmed and put together and a delight to watch.

The sound and mix can be tricky for live releases. Luckily this one strikes the perfect balance of feeling live, and sounding big and polished. The drums are nice and loud in the mix and the timbre of the toms and kicks on this recording really bring out the live vibe. The balance between the three string instruments is pretty perfect with no one either sounding too loud or inaudiable either. As I said it all comes across as a lot more savage than the album versions of the tracks.

In terms of specs, there’s the choice of either 5.1 DTS HD Master audio, Dolby Digital 5.1 or Dolby Digital stereo. Its region code 0. It comes with a booklet filled with pictures as well as a set of liner notes from singer/guitarist Matt Tuck and a set from guitarist Padge.

Overall; this a very good value for money, absolutely beautiful-looking and excellent-sounding concert film capturing two absolutely blistering and enthusiastic, fun performances. It looks an absolute treat and it sounds so much more raw and human than their studio output. Anyone who’s on the fence about this band should seriously check this release out as I can imagine it converting a lot of people. Anyone who is already a fan is going to absolutely fucking love it. Highly, highly recommended.

1000x1000Warriors Of The Road: The Saxon Chronicles Part 2 is a Live and Documentary combo release by the legendary British Heavy Metal pioneers Saxon. It features several concerts from 2012-2013 Festivals in the UK and mainland Europe on Disc 2, and a fairly lengthy documentary on Disc 1. There’s also a third disc, which is the entire 45 minute Steelhouse Festival set on CD. Disc 1 also has a few video clips from the Call To ArmsUnplugged & Strung Up era, such as ‘Hammer Of The Gods,’ an acoustic version of ‘Frozen Rainbow’ and more. Some of the videos are a bit silly looking but that’s part of the charm really.

The documentary is fairly interesting, not quite as great as their previous Heavy Metal Thunder documentary, but still entertaining. It is intercut with live footage of the Steelhouse Festival (with their infamous Eagle lighting prop) and features the band members in all sorts of settings covering topics such as about their time on the road and their touring work ethic, about the band members themselves and their influences and history before joining the band, about being in the studio and about The Steelhouse Festival etc. The whole feature is about an hour and thirty-seven minutes so its pretty good value for money. Its a bit loose and not very po faced. The narration is a bit off-putting for me however. It almost sounds like its going to be a parody, but it isn’t, its straight faced, but its got the wrong tone for it to be serious. There are comedic moments in terms of the band’s anecdotes though, such as when Nigel once did such a long drum fill the momentum carried him along and he fell clean off his stool and riser. Its good stuff, but not essential. While the documentary is what the product is sold on the strength of, for me the real joy of the disc is in the live sets.

The tracklistings are as following:

Download Festival 2012:

01. Heavy Metal Thunder
02. Hammer Of The Gods
03. Power And The Glory
04. 20,000 Feet
05. Strong Arm Of The Law
06. Denim And Leather
07. Wheels Of Steel
08. Princess Of The Night
09. And The Bands Played On

Wacken 2012:

01. Heavy Metal Thunder
02. Hammer Of The Gods
03. Power And The Glory
04. 20,000 Ft
05. Never Surrender
06. Dogs Of War
07. Motorcycle Man
08. I’ve Got To Rock (To Stay Alive)
09. Crusader
10. Rock The Nations
11. Drum Solo
12. Battalions Of Steel
13. The Eagle Has Landed
14. Wheels Of Steel
15. To Hell And Back Again
16. Denim And Leather
17. Strong Arm Of The Law
18. 747 (Strangers In The Night)
19. Princess Of The Night

Graspop 2013:

01. Sacrifice
02. Wheels Of Terror
03. Power And The Glory
04. Heavy Metal Thunder
05. Made In Belfast
06. Denim And Leather
07. Motorcycle Man
08. I’ve Got To Rock (To Stay Alive)
09. Stand Up And Fight
10. 747 (Strangers In The Night)
11. Strong Arm Of The Law
12. Wheels Of Steel
13. Crusader
14. Princess Of The Night

Steelhouse Festival 2013:

01. Sacrifice
02. Wheels Of Terror
03. And The Bands Played On
04. Conquistador
05. The Eagle Has Landed
06. Stand Up And Fight
07. 747
08. Crusader
09. Denim & Leather
10. Princess Of The Night

The setlists are maybe a bit too similar to sit and watch them all one after eachother but they are all worth seeing, even if you do it one at a time (I mean when you add it all up there’s over 230 minutes of live footage across these two discs, pace yourself!).  The band are a very consistent live act. Any one of these concerts is good enough on the band’s performance to be a product in and of itself. The overall theme of them is very good, its nice hearing the beefy new material like ‘Stand Up & Fight’ or ‘Made In Belfast’ mixed in with the all time hits like ‘The Eagle Has Landed’ and ‘Denim & Leather’ or the heavier faster old stuff like ‘20,000 Feet’ and ‘The Power And The Glory.’ In terms of recording and production, they are all fairly strong shows, although none of them are perfect. Visually there’s no complaints, its all very professionally shot and edited and looks fine on Blu Ray in 1080i. In terms of performance the band are energetic and enthused – they have that live feel and some songs are faster than their studio counterparts or whatever. The sound is probably the only thing you might find fault with… Some of the shows have one thing too quiet in the mix, such as the drums, or for example a not-heavy-enough guitar tone, there’s something you can pick out in each one. Some of it is produced quieter than the menu music which is a bit jarring. All that is minor stuff however. The main point is it is clear, well made and capturing a good performance by a great band. A release I really compare this to is Anyplace As Crazy As Anywhere Else by Motorhead… its several different festival sets from a two year period, with roughly similar setlist and standard of quality on each set.

At the end of the day, this release has a lot going for it. A long documentary, a lot of live footage, a few bonus video clips. Its a very good value for money offering. Whether you might like it or whether you should buy it really depends on how much Saxon you want and how much you already have. They’ve already released documentaries, they’ve already released live concerts (from all different eras, before and now even after this one). If you don’t have any Saxon video releases this is a damn good release to pick up. Saxon are such a great band, every bit as good as their peers in the likes of Motorhead and Maiden and Priest, and these sets, for example the Waken 2012 set are worth an Metal fan’s time. If you already have lots of Saxon video releases maybe there isn’t enough to make this one stand out, but for everyone else I’d definitely recommend giving it a shot. Live Saxon is always a good bet.

r-9299096-1481877844-1972-jpegWhen I first heard of Motley Crue I didn’t like them. I was young, Nu Metal was what the Magazines were saying was cool and anything Glam or Hair related was advertised as being terrible, cliched, sexist nonsense for old men who had all grown out of rock music now and were embarrassed to admit they used to like it. That’s what I was told anyway, and though it turns out that this idea was very much a caricature of the real situation I was fool enough to believe it an ignored the band for the next decade or so. Eventually a friend bought me their biography, The Dirt, and I read it since I usually enjoy a good band book and it was rather famous in and of itself as a book so I was tempted to try even if I wasn’t a fan of the band. Upon reading I instantly grew to dislike the band. Cheating, stealing, rude, ungrateful, disrespectful of other’s hard work and property, they didn’t seem like nice people (apparently I forgot about the whole Rock N Roll thing… because everyone else who read the book said ‘Wow, what a badass’ where I thought ‘You are the opposite of an upstanding citizen’). It did make me wonder why anybody liked the band, and that lead me to listen to their music.

…Oh. It all made sense now. Songs like ‘Bastard,’ ‘Red Hot,’ ‘Use It Or Loose It’ and ‘Live Wire’ all tapped into my love of Speed Metal and NWOBHM with their familiar sound… pounding drums, chugging guitars, shouting vocals. What do you mean they toured with Saxon in the early days!? ….That let me in the door and soon I discovered the rest and gladly so. Oh, songs like Don’t Go Away Mad are like an updated version of Kiss… it all makes sense.

Fast forward a few years and its time to review The End, the final concert from the final tour in the storied and legendary band’s career. Available in many formats, CD, Vinyl, DVD and Blu Ray, normal and deluxe editions, there’s many ways to buy this. For me it was standard edition Blu Ray.

Sonically; its very good. The music is clear, big and well-produced. Its got umph. The mix is just right. Visually; its a treat. The picture is excellent, the camera work is on point, the editing is well done (maybe I could loose a few of the slow motion shots but that’s just personal taste) and the actual content of the show is very visually interesting… there’s flames, a specially designed stage with spikes and pentagrams and the band’s name, there’s lazers and even a rollercoaster. The band tower above the crowd on cherrypickers a one point. Its a very big Rock N’ Roll show to match the likes of Kiss, Rammstein and Rob Zombie.

The setlist is quite strong, lots of material from the first four albums, Primal Scream, and a few from the more recent Saints Of Los Angeles. Basically, only material by the full ‘classic line up.’ More or less hit after hit. In terms of less-famous songs they even play my favourite Crue non-single ‘Louder Than Hell’ off of the underrated Theater Of Pain.

So; it looks good, it sounds good and they play good songs. Sounds perfect, right? Well… uh, here’s the thing. The performance is a bit patchy. Maybe even a lot patchy. I mean, Motley Crue are good performers as entertainers… the flame-thrower bass guitar and the crowd interaction and the first pumping excitement raising is all very good in terms of live performance. Its just, the key thing, y’know, playing the songs, where it falls down for me. There’s numerous musical fluffs and mistakes and missed ques. There’s questionable reworkings of classic songs that might’ve made ’em feel updated but miss the mark (‘Shout At The Devil’ I’m lookin at you!) and Vince’s vocals are very sloppy. I have a lot of good will for him and don’t want to slag him off unnecessarily, but man, he is so out of breath, misses so many lines, delivers so many lines in an inappropriate pitch or tone or volume, overall just does not sing these songs either as well as on record or indeed, very well at all.

You could probably forgive a few fluffed transitions and you can get over a few of the questionable moments like Vince doing a happy sexy dance to the word ‘rape’ if you keep in your mind its a concert and not everything would be absolutely perfect, but the singing is such a let down it really is a bit of a deal breaker for me. You can add a few more points if you are a diehard fan I guess, but you can also detract a few if you are a fan of any album between ‘Feelgood and ‘Saints.

I also find the drum solo very… um, well. Drum solos should usually be about showing how well you can play the drums, not just playing along to some dubstep. The rollercoaster was cool and I guess its difficult to play a virtuosic solo when you are upside down, but seriously who comes to Motely Crue wanting to hear dubstep? Maybe I’m nitpicking. Its interesting that they caught on film the one time it goes wrong and Tommy gets stuck in midair like an amusement park malfunction. Its just hard to imagine that it was pitched to the right audience maybe.

I go through two different moods when watching this. First, the cynical mood – ‘Wow, look at those passed-their-prime guys who all hate eachother showing up for the money and not even being on-point musically’ and then the more optimistic ‘Wow, look at those guys up there putting aside their differences to give the fans what they want, and so what if they don’t play perfectly as they put on a big enough spectacle to compensate.’ Sometimes it varies from viewing to viewing, and sometimes it varies from song to song in a single viewing, but I never have settled into deciding which way I feel definitively, and I never did stop viewing.

So that’s the concert. What about the bonus features? Well, there’s a quick four-minute feature about the Flamethrower Bass which is just Nicky talking about his history with pyro and why the one in this concert is the best. Then there’s a similar five-and a-half minute feature on Tommy’s drum rollercoaster and why visuals are important to a live audience. The best feature is a 35 minute interview section with the band where they answer all sorts of questions ans start reflecting on their history and how far they’ve come. None of these features are deal-breakers that you’d buy the disc over if you didn’t want the concert, but are welcome enough for a one-off watch.

Overall; There’s a lot to recommend this concert on – a setlist of mainly hits, a great sound and look, a big rock spectacle, historical significance etc. There’s a few bonus features to add some extra value for money. There’s also a pretty big downside however – the band and especially the singer don’t do as good a job as you’d hope. Whether you can put up with that is up to you. Or like me, maybe you buy it anyway and struggle to figure out if you can put up with it while still watching it a lot.

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The Zombie Horror Picture Show is a live release by the Industrial Metal band Rob Zombie. It was filmed in Texas and released in 2014 on DVD and Blu Ray, his first full concert video release. The Blu Ray version is in 1080p with DTS HD Master 5.1, Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and PCM stereo options.

Live CDs are great, but Rob Zombie has always been about spectacle, about visual, about putting on a show. It just makes more sense to release it in a visual medium. Here’s a list of things you can find on this concert film: Multiple costume changes (including prosthetic Nosferatu ears and a light-up mouth-guard) …when the band are already decoratively dressed and wearing make up to begin with; Multiple screens (showing a mixture of crowd footage, scenes from the music videos and dedicated footage such as horror imagery, strip tease, psychedelic visualizers and karaoke sing along prompts), light-up guitars, a see-through drum kit (which also has pentagrams projected onto it at one stage), balloons, confetti, fireworks and pyro and steam cannons, lights and lasers, customized mic-stands, fake snow falling, hired dancers in big puppet costumes, a giant prop that says ‘Zombie’ on it, a giant radio prop, a giant skeletal podium prop and even a giant steampunk-robot-chariot that drives around the stage and can move its head around. That’s more than most bands do in a whole career these days.

Its a very visual concert, with a lot to take in. The editing and camera work is all very high-budget stuff, lots of different angles available, movement, concentrating on the right parts of the song. There’s the occasional grainy film filters, or psychedelic looking screen mirrored down the middle or what have you, and during the intro, outro and a small selection of the more quiet parts it’ll cut to footage from the road. Its a very good looking film, well put together, not too stylized but not to plain. Very in keeping with Zombie’s tastes and artwork (Which makes sense seeing as Zombie himself directed it). Perhaps, there’s a few too many titty-shots. … a much higher proportion than normal really. If that’s off-putting to you then this aint the concert for you I fear, as there’s no getting around it here.

The band, featuring drummer Ginger Fish and guitarist John 5 (Hey, remember how cool Marilyn Manson was live when those two were in the band!?) as well as bassist Piggy D are all on top form, no free rides! Rob himself performs well and enthusiastically, really getting into it, dancing, interacting with the audience, going into the crowd etc. His vocals, which have been criticized on previous live releases are very strong here, and not a weak link at all. From everyone involved its a good performance, and the crowd seem into it.

The setlist is great; out of all of ‘Zombie’s live albums this has the most wide-ranging setlist, covering five solo albums and two White Zombie albums. Across its 80 minute length you’ll find all the hits you’d expect like ‘Dragula,’ ‘Living Dead Girl,’ ‘Never Gonna Stop (The Red, Red Kroovy),’ ‘Sick Bubblegum’ etc. There’s material from the then-new album Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor (including a really storming rendition of ‘Dead City Radio…’). There’s also a brief drum solo and a slightly longer guitar solo where John 5 really gets to shred. There’s the popular Grand Funk cover of ‘We’re An American Band.’ The Educated Horses album is the least drawn-from album but then there was already a live album from that touring cycle so its good not to just repeat the same setlist twice. Everyone’s tastes are different and I’d personally have loved to add in ‘Scum Of The Earth’ and ‘Werewolf Women of the SS’ but otherwise it is a pretty amazing selection.

Sound wise, its is decent. The White Zombie covers sound nice and thick, and the more organic material from his solo catalogue fairs really well. Some of the more industrial sections maybe sound different live than on record but not in any way that spoils them. My only minor gripe is that my favourite ‘Zombie song, the very catchy ‘Ding Dang Dong De Do Gong De Laga Raga’ isn’t just as crunchy and massive live. Its good, but not just as satisfying. I think its just because there’s only one guitar track live and in the studio they can beef it up with more. Minor nitpick at most though.

There isn’t much in the way of extras at all, just a gallery, not even a booklet with linear notes or anything, but to be honest I bought it for the concert in the first place so that’s ok I guess.

Overall, in terms of set,sound, performance, spectacle, visuals and editing this is a very good concert film and I highly recommend it. If you are a fan already it is pretty perfect and as an introduction to the band it serves as a pretty high quality ‘greatest hits’ package with a nice career spanning collection of songs to give you a flavour for different eras.