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.
Rainbow: ”Live In Munich 1977” (Eagle Vision/Eagle Rock Entertainment)
Ritchie Blackmore formed Rainbow after becoming unhappy as a member of Deep Purple. The band had a number of lineup changes but gave us some amazing Hard Rock and showcased the talents of Ronnie James Dio and Cozy Powell. The DVD features the only known footage of this roster in 1977 as ilm finds the band supporting their new release “Long Live Rock And Roll” and the albums preceding it. Running a only eight songs there are excellent jams and guitar displays by Blackmore. The audio and visual quality holds up great for its 29 year age and should appeal to all ranges of fans. The DVD comes with bonus footage and includes a miniature tourbook from their European visit.
Sentenced: “Buried Alive” (Century Media Records)
My dear friends we are gathered here on this sad day October 1, 2005 to pay well-deserved tribute to the band Sentenced who tragically and not too quietly ended their life in the same manner that they lived it – on the concert stage among their most ardent and supportive fans. Yes, the DVD release that bears the same name as the CD concert gives the viewers the final live performance ever of the band Sentenced; a band who decided to call it a career with their release Funeral Album, a powerful Gothic Metal CD issued in early 2005. This “suicide” came after sixteen years as a group and essentially at the mass decision that all they could do in this band having been done. It was filmed in their native Finland, at the club Teatria and with over two hours of concert material and also a heaping amount of bonus features. You get an excellent concert and one that features a strong selection from the band’s final album and their singer Ville Laihiala (who has since gone on to focus his efforts with Poisonblack). The years with Ville as front man found the band more Gothic Metal than their original sound of Melodic Death Metal when they were fronted by Taneli Jarva. It was this Gothic Metal sound that ended up inspiring the likes of HIM and The Rasmus. Their fans from the beginning will enjoy the fact that Jarva returns to the stage with the band during this show and performs five numbers from the time that he was a member of the group. His was a darker, rougher voice and more along the lines of the growlers of today’s Black Metal scene. The bonus inclusions give all of the bands videos on the second DVD along with interviews that while in Finnish, do come with sub-titles for the rest of us to enjoy. There is a cryptic segment which finds the band walking through the town with a casket as they take their funeral procession. It leads into a behind the scenes look at the video for “Ever Frost”. With all this material to enjoy it is hard to find yourself not coming to some sense of sadness as a band chooses to close the book on their existence in such a dramatic fashion. Their impact was definitely felt in this aspect of the Metal genre – May they rest in peace.
Stream of Passion featuring Ayreon: “Alive In The Real World” (InsideOut Music)
Filmed in front of a sold-out crowd in Holland, Arjen Lucassen gives you the Stream Of Passion project. The guitarist most known for his work in Ayreon designed SOP to be different from his Melodic Metal and as a result you get a Progressive Gothic brand reminiscent of old Gathering. Vocalist Marcela Bovio from his “Human Equation” album shines like a star and will surely extend her appeal to those who enjoyed that record and want to see what else she is capable of. On the bands debut release “Embrace The Storm”, Bovio proved that she could stand tall among her peers who front Evanescence and Within Temptation with this very interesting project. Their music makes excellent use of the piano and various string arrangements which overlay onto the complex guitar work of Lucassens and Lori Linstruth which take these dramatic feels and kick them up a notch by driving crunchy guitar riffs through them. This is by no means a Metal recording yet instead a display at how one can carefully blend genres and bend them to their will. The DVD captures the group live on stage and to the delight of the attending audience they are not only seeing the Stream Of Passion material but also a healthy dose of Aryeon music from their albums “The Final Experiment” and the masterpiece “The Human Equation”. There are also a couple of moments where the “Star One” project are visited along with a Led Zeppelin cover. The blending of all the guitarists work is a great idea and should help capitalize on his efforts for Melodic Progressive Metal in some fashion. The large band membership does not lose an ounce of sound and rather than sound cluttered this is full in its audio presentation and moody via its heavy amount of lights. A new viewer can sit through this and not stray for not only is Bovio a great singer but she is also a beautiful presence to see as she hold the audience in her grasp. She is truly one of the singers to keep your eyes on going forward and she has already hit the ground running if you ask me. The DVD comes with a full booklet and liner notes about the group and features extra bonus interview and band segments. A companion CD of this is also available if you prefer audio only. This is an excellent DVD that you will watch again and again.
Stryper: ”Greatest Hits: Live In Puerto Rico” (Music Video Distribution)
“Hails and Hosanna” for the Metal Messengers of the Most High, as they have returned and bring us their first full concert DVD ever. Filmed in Puerto Rico back in March of 2004 this video finds a reunited lineup of Stryper performing the greatest hits from their albums in front of a very enthusiastic crowd. During the “Hair Metal” years of the “eighties Stryper was a band that ruled the video networks of MTV and were immediately recognizable from both their positive Christian message as well as their yellow and black spandex outfits. The music world today finds the spandex gone but the message and the music remaining strong and sounding better than ever before. The DVD is a great way to catch up on these guys and what they are capable of, especially if you only know of songs like “Honestly” or “Calling On You”. There is certainly a lot more to absorb with this performance and in the concert setting you will find yourself impressed at how good they actually sound. The show in PR was led up to with the band reuniting around their CD Best Of compilation “7: The Best Of Stryper”; a disc that found all tracks remastered and sounding very upfront as opposed to the original mixes. It’s clear from start to finish that the members of Stryper are all kick ass musicians, and the vocal powers you hear on the records are not the result of studio trickery. Lead singer/guitarist Michael Sweet shows that he can shred as much as Oz Fox while drummer Brother Robert Sweet (the visual timekeeper) mans a massive kit that he pounds relentlessly. He sits sideways if you didn’t know and he is truly one of the best Hard Rock drummers to come out of the genre. The band also shows that their message is serious as at one point they all stop performing to disburse bibles to the audience. Michael periodically addresses the crowd as this is the reason they are here and at all times seems as genuine as can be. No gimmicks or trick here folks. Standout numbers are “Soldiers Under Command” and “Loud And Clear”, but the closer of “Winter Wonderland” will definitely amuse most as the show being in March and in sunny Puerto Rico just seemed a little bit strange. This great concert reminds of a special time in Metal history and that not all the music is dark and somber.
Styx: “One With Everything” (Eagle Vision/Eagle Rock Entertainment)
In 2006 we find a Styx that is almost completely different in membership from their not so humble beginnings but at the same time not too far from their original musical premise. “One With Everything” is a great concert DVD for we find the band in rock solid form and joined by the Contemporary Youth Orchestra. Based out of Cleveland, OH, the CYO is a 115-piece Orchestra plus a 60 voice chorus and what makes them most impressive is their ages range from 13-19. The Orchestra is conducted by Liza Grossman, who was the key factor in building this unique performance and actually extending the idea to the Styx guys themselves. It’s a refreshing change from the all too common “Rock Band meets Symphony Orchestra” videos, as by this time almost everyone has done this and it needed a kick in the tail to make it interesting once again. Together, Styx and the Orchestra deliver many of the bands most staple numbers as well as some new music that was written for this special sold-out concert. Lead singer, keyboardist Lawrence Gowan does an amazing job filling the shoes of Dennis DeYoung, and Tommy Shaw’s voice is exceptional on every track he does. Shaw forms the remaining three longest members with JY Young and Chuck Panozzo (who does not always tour with the band anymore) while Ricky Phillips handles the bass and Todd Sucherman the drums. Sucherman is an incredible player who does justice to the drumming introduced by John Panozzo. He is both technical and powerful and shows the level of technique he brings to the band best in the medley number, which features some 16 Styx classics from across the catalog. Other winners were “I Am The Walrus” and “Fooling Yourself” along with “Renegade”. What stands out the most memorable of the video is the expressions and intent on the orchestra players. They love this concert and that can be great for Styx music as it continues on into the years with their new material and beloved classics. The bonus features are two new Christmas songs that they wrote along with an interview with the key players and the orchestra conductor. This was an enjoyable viewing experience and while it does not include every classic that you might have wanted to find, there are more than enough instances of great music to allow you to look past that.
The 69 Eyes: “Helsinki Vampires” (Cleopatra Records)
Finally available in the USA, the fans of The 69 Eyes can rejoice as the music and video of this great Gothic Hard Rock group can be enjoyed by a much wider audience thanks to the folks at Cleopatra Records. Originally released in 2003, this concert was taken from a performance that they did at the Tavatasia Club in their native Finland back in 2002. As a concert, it features a healthy dose of their staple numbers up until the time of the filming and it allows you to enjoy a great representation of their back catalog based on some of the better numbers such as “Brandon Lee”, “Gothic Girl” and “Don’t Turn Your Back On Fear”. Since this is a club appearance and appears to be a rather small setting on the stage the best effects lie simply in the use of dramatic lighting and several different camera angles. There are no real bombastic effects but you do get a whole lot of Jyrki 69 in your face, which is sure to be something the Gothics will love very much. On every song, lead singer Jyrki 69 is in great form and style as he delivers the music to perfection and has the crowd in his thrall. He is one of those enigmatic front men that make watching a band all the more fun and along with guitarist Timo Timo and drummer Jussi; he leads the charge of the band into Goth & Roll greatness. Despite the lack of over the top visuals, you cannot argue with getting a rocking set from The Helsinki Vampires in a hometown performance in front of some of their most devoted fans. It is a DVD film that will impress anyone who watches it, as its solid material, which is both catchy and easy to get into. Use this as your means to get a little more interested in the group as before the deal with Cleopatra Records, the only release that has been domestically available was “Devils”. This is a band that rocks and has a very accessible style which has allowed them to build up an audience in parts of the world where finding their music is more often than not a truly difficult undertaking. Stacked with bonus items such as the bands promotional videos, several candid instances and an interview with Jyrki, this is one DVD that is sure to appease the hungers of many of the children of the night.
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.
Stream Of Passion: http://www.streamofpassion.com/
The 69 Eyes: http://www.69eyes.com