These video overviews were originally written for Metal Edge Magazine when I was a contributor to their DVD reviews section back in 2006. With the magazine wrapping up publication a few months ago, I decided to add them to the context of our PiercingMetal presentation. I felt that by doing this I would not only be raising the horns in remembrance of the magazine but to also showcase just how different writing for a major publication was when it all came down to it. These posts will feature several reviews each until we run out of them. The freelance writing tenure at Metal Edge Magazine was discussed on THIS LINK so please check that out when done. Here we go with another group of DVD Reviews.
Iced Earth: “Alive In Athens: The DVD” (Century Media Records)
Come back with me now to the year 1999 as Iced Earth records their first ever concert performance album “Alive In Athens” in front of a sold-out Metal hungry audience. If you are one of the many Metal bangers that owns the CD already then you are well-aware about this concert and just how excellent it was in capturing the best songs that Iced Earth had to offer the world at the time. It was a recording that that found the band in tip-top shape and holding solid ground in their quest for Heavy Metal dominance. Now lets fast forward to 2006 where an old archive is discovered and inside this is a long forgotten filming of this concert which was done by the three camera crew present at the event. The footage would be raw but the decision to share this with the legions of Iced Earth fans became an immediate one and after careful audio remastering of the film they were ready to present to them. As a concert itself there are moments in the film that make you feel as though you are watching from the balconies while others place you on the stage looking out to the crowd. There are no dynamic effects and instead a sparse stage with the band members doling out the Metal in excellent fashion. While recent interviews have found Schaffer himself displeased with this videos release, it is the only way to see a full concert with the former singer Matthew Barlow; a performer that a majority of the bands fan base misses very much. Sonically and visually I found nothing wrong with this release and totally recommend it for Iced Earth fans old and new. The amount of concert footage from Iced Earth is limited to this release and if you find yourself wanting a show with this line up you need to look no further than here. Twenty eight songs and running 2.5 hours you cannot go wrong with it. Iced Earth has had a number of changes over the years and Schaffer as founder, remains the only constant of the musical vision. Everyone else in the band for this film has moved on to other pursuits in music and life by this time. Bonus features include Jon in Athens and backstage footage. A booklet is included and loaded with photos, song lyrics and cool graphics that the group was known for. This is a must have for any Metal fan.
Kamelot: “One Cold Winter’s Night” (SPV Records)
Filmed during a sold out performance in Oslo, Norway; Melodic Metal masters Kamelot present to their fans a brilliant concert video for the tour of “The Black Halo”. Proving they are a band that does it right – there is a strong sense of song writing in their music and the vibe generated on every track they perform is done with intelligence and power. Since “The Black Halo” opened a number of doors for the band it made perfect sense to document a night of the tour for DVD and this is a release that will surpass many peoples expectations. The packed theatre and dramatic stage setting of this DVD is presented by an 18 camera shoot and is directed by Patric Ullaeus. It makes you feel as though you are at the show and for a performance video this is one of the better ones in both visual presentation and the sonic delivery. Ullaeus’ imagination and Kamelot’s level of mood and drama that gets delivered is exponential due to the enigmatic presence of Roy Khan. The songs performed on this release are focused on material from “The Black Halo” and similar to the studio version there are guest-stars to help it be done properly. During “The Haunting” we find Khan assisted by Simone Simons, the stunning siren who fronts the band Epica. Simone’s voice is excellent in the live sense as well, and along with her group are something the fans of Kamelot should investigate. Musically this show has its members making every effort to impress as Tom Youngblood shreds the guitar while bassist Glen Barry holds down his half of the rhythm section. Youngblood is a great melodic lead guitarist and I think that after you watch the film you will agree with me. With a clean, decisive and technical style at times, he is truly one of the better players in Melodic Power Metal. The viewer also gets solos from both Casey Grillo (drums) and Oliver Palotai (keyboards). Grillo has a fun style to watch on the “battery” (as Khan announces), while Palotai, the bands newest official member, shows deft levels of skill on the keys. Khan himself is one of those great singers who is also blessed with the ability to be a great front man. A natural on stage, he possesses one of the most pure and melodic voices the genre offers. The DVD2 contains bonus interviews, backstage footage and videos.
KISS: “KISSology” (VH1 Classics)
It’s finally here! Yes, the legions of the KISS Army and the rest of the world finally have a boxed set collection of early KISS concerts in their entirety along with dozens of rare television appearances and promotional spots. As the first in a series of such releases this is off to a flying start with concerts such as Winterland (1975), Cobo Hall, Detroit (1976), as well as Budokan Japan and Houston, TX (1977). It’s the kind of footage that the fans have been screaming for the band to release for many years as until now only some select clips were offered as teasers on releases such as “Exposed” and “KISS My A**”. The concerts for the most part are incredible in terms of quality based on their age and in most cases the sound is very clear as well. It’s much better than any bootleg that you would find from these same shows if you had seen them around. The two DVD’s run about six hours in length and they give you a photo loaded booklet along with a “backstage pass” from 1974 which makes this one cool addition to your music video library. While the concerts are a great way to enjoy KISS, you are also able to witness the bands rise from their beginnings as we see them as early as 1974 as guests on the Mike Douglas show. Gene’s interview and Mike’s shocked guests are priceless. There is also a short but interesting documentary from when the band visited Cadillac Michigan in 1975 and literally took over the town for a couple of days. The Paul Lynde Halloween special only includes one of the three numbers performed so perhaps that will make a follow up unless the footage was lost. Besides all of the amazing highlights there is one downside to this and that is based on the fact that three different DVD’s were used as a bonus disk. Depending on where you get your copy, you will have one of those as your bonus DVD. It’s not a mystery disk since it’s listed on the front of the box and it’s also no mystery why KISS had such a lasting and powerful impact on the music scene and you will realize this as the final clip ends from your viewing. You Wanted the Best and You Got It, KISSology Volume 1, I can hardly wait for the next one.
Manowar: ”The Day The Earth Shook: The Absolute Power” (Magic Circle Music)
Raise your sword high and prepare to go into battle once again with Manowar for the DVD that fans have been waiting for has finally arrived. Instead of continuing their “Hell On Wheels” series of DVD issues Manowar has chosen to sate the ever-ravenous hunger for Metal in their legions of followers by releasing a full concert performance film. With the “Hell On Earth” releases you needed to be more of the diehard or extreme follower since they included so much extra stuff that those folks would enjoy it more than the casual Metal listener. Tons of behind the stage antics and fan interaction was blended in with live performance footage, official videos and rehearsal clips. It’s a DVD for everyone who has ever raised their fist to Metal, be they old or new fan. They have cemented their place in the genres history forever and with this special event performance remind the acolyte and the unbeliever why this is so. It’s a great representation of their material and the amazing membership roster. It began with the “Manowar Mega Fan Convention” during July of 2005, which was a gathering of fans that would culminate in the headlining appearance at the Earthshaker Fest in Germany in front of a crowd of over 25,000 raging Metal heads. This is the best way to see Manowar and with the special nature of the show they made every effort to impress. Not only would you get a killer set of material and historic staples, but also find every member who had been a part of the roster in the past appear. If they held their instrument for the Kings Of Metal they would perform with the group once again. The “Triumph Of Steel” era players (Dave Shankle and Rhino) as well as the “Battle Hymn” era (Ross The Boss and Donnie Hamzik) would join DeMaio and Adams once again and as the finale the entire roster would perform as a single unit on an explosive rendition of “Battle Hymn”. If you thought Manowar was big and imposing before, just wait until you see them with three drummers and three guitar players. An orchestra helps them during some songs as well, and is a great dynamic. Wrapped in a beautiful slipcase, the DVD present over 6.5 hours of footage to enjoy and makes this worth adding to your Manowar library. Let the sign of the hammer be your guide to this release.
Megadeth: ”That One Night: Live In Buenos Aires” (Image Entertainment)
Filmed in October 2005 after a successful run of tours with his shred fest-ival “Gigantour 1” – Dave Mustaine and Megadeth present you with 90 plus minutes of pure unadulterated Heavy Metal glory. The performance in Buenos Aires almost always guarantees an animated and enthusiastic audience and most certainly one that responds to the music well. Without making any offense to other worldwide concert goers there was one fact of this DVD that remains with me clearly and that is the audience actually singing the guitar solos. You hear it most prevalent during “Symphony Of Destruction” but it is around the whole show as well. I have yet to experience this at a US performance of anyone. This reaction showed a pure love of the band and some 25,000 strong would find Megadeth on top of their game once again as they delivered one classic after another and also did justice to their new material from the latest release at the time – “The System Has Failed”. The lineup was tight as can be on all counts with Glen and Shawn Drover (guitar and drums) working alongside Mustaine as if this was the band they were in for longer than the year and a half it had actually been. Bass would be fluidly held down by James McDonough who has since moved on and been replaced by BLS’s James Lomenzo. As you watch and enjoy some of the legendary numbers you come to one conclusion about Megadeth and Mustaine himself – while a very outspoken front man on a number of levels you cannot take away the absolute relevance that he has delivered and maintained throughout his career for the sake of Heavy Metal. Yes, he charges some of it up with his political views, but Megadeth has always been a thinking man’s band and very topical to the times around him on every release. There was seldom any re-loading done here or any music about angry saints when it came down to their material and as result the Heavy Metal world gives him the high hails. This is the perfect release for those that already own Rude Awakening as this focuses on a little more of the newer material than the old. Highlights are “A Tout La Monde”, “Something That I’m Not” (which seems directed at Metallica), the ballad “Coming Home” and of course their venerated classics.
Nirvana: ”Live! Tonight! Sold Out!” (Geffen Records)
Originally issued in 1994, this film from Nirvana captures the band shortly after the release of “Nevermind” – an album that was going to define a generation and would launch a music scene unlike any other had done in a long time. It’s was Cobain’s plan to document the band’s rise in popularity by featuring an assortment of interview segments and live performances from around this time and while the work had begun on the project the singer would take his own life and leave this uncompleted. Surviving members Grohl and Novaselic wisely decided that this needed to be released so they completed it as best as possible. To some it might come off as disjointed as it does tend to scatter about from here to there with some concert segments being glued together from different performances. For the most part these are interesting based on the way that the song does not always sound like the record but instead reflects the way Kurt and the band were feeling at the particular moment. He drones through “Smells Like Teen Spirit” on some foreign language program, while screaming at the top of his lungs on a song that didn’t go like that at all on another. The interview portions are quite telling as well since you find Cobain and the band not as the typical “Rock Stars” but instead just a bunch of guys who were unimpressed by the trappings that so many others seek with a record deal. They definitely had no love of the music business and its machinations either and Cobain states how he would rather hang out with the kid who was not on the ball team smoking cigarettes than the popular ones on the team. Perhaps this mindset led him to become such an important role model to kids who were not always considered the cool ones. Nirvana paved the way at the end of the Hair Metal years leading the charge of the “Grunge” era which gave us Alice In Chains and Pearl Jam. Forever a band of historic importance as a result of their work this is a DVD that any fan of modern Rock music should enjoy. If you can take away one thing from reliving the band during their glorious rise it’s the fact that while Kurt might have never wanted to be considered an icon of the music industry he sure would have been proud of the thousands of musical minds that he inspired and enforced belief in.
Additional chapters in this series of “Revisiting Metal Edge Magazine” will be over the coming weeks. Please stay tuned and let us know what you thought of these items down in the comments section below.
Iced Earth: http://www.icedearth.com