The Top 5 DVDs of 2010

2010 wasn’t a bad year for music DVDs but I think it was very similar to 2009. In 2009, there weren’t that many notable DVDs released from the big name bands and a lot of bands used DVDs as special bonuses in first pressing of new releases. I also missed a few DVD releases in 2009 and that carried over to 2010 as well. The difference between the last few years, aside from Iron Maiden not releasing an awesome DVD this year, is that I made sure I picked up a few more DVDs. Actually, this turned out to be one of my better years for DVDs, I think I acquired about ten and all of them were very well done. Bands and labels are continuing to raise the bar by putting a lot of content into these DVDs so that the fans get a lot of value for their hard earned dollar. So here is my list of  The Top 5 Music DVDs of 2010:

#1

The Big 4 (Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth & Anthrax) - Live From Sofia, Bulgaria (2010): Technically this is a box set but the reason you’re buying the box set is to see the concert. It was obvious from the second I opened the package that this was going to be the DVD of the Year because the expectation of seeing all four Thrash heavyweights on one bill, and then on one stage together, was the whole point. As far as content goes, this was definitely the best DVD. You got full sets from each band, along with the ‘Am I Evil?’ jam during the Metallica set, and they were all great performances. There was also enough bonus footage of the backstage are and the ‘Am I Evil?’ rehearsals to make that a special add-on. Maybe the fact that I got the DVD in the box set has something to do with it because the box set did include the audio CDs, booklet and photo cards but the DVD can be purchased separately and, if I got that version, it would still be at the top spot.

#2

Michael Schenker Group – The 30th Anniversary Concert: Live In Tokyo (2010): I’m putting Michael Schenker in the second spot because this was a tour souvenir for me after I caught the show in Foxboro, MA a few months later in July. Michael Schenker has been one of my favorite guitarists for a long time and the early MSG albums are still classics. When I caught the show in July, it was one of the best concerts I’d seen this year, if not all-time, Michael and the band put on a great show. This concert in Tokyo is basically the same show I saw in Foxboro with a little different running order, a couple extra songs and a different touring lineup. The concert is superb and it’s obvious that the magic between Schenker and original MSG singer Gary Barden is still there. Not a lot of extras here (some backstage footage and interviews) but the performance more than makes up for it with classic songs and great musicianship.

#3

Jeff Scott Soto – One Night In Madrid 2009 (2010): ONE NIGHT IN MADRID 2009 was released in Europe in late 2009 but got a proper U.S. release in early 2010 along with the two disc live album. Not only is Jeff Scott Soto one of the best Rock singers in the business, he is also extremely fan friendly when releasing CDs and DVDs. This DVD set includes the 21 song setlist from Sala Heineken in Madrid and and extensive bonus section that is longer than the main show! The Madrid show includes songs from all over Soto’s career and is a superb performance. The bonus section features eight music videos from Soto’s solo albums and second bonus section that includes behind the scenes tour footage and a tribute to Marcel Jacob, Soto’s bandmate in Talisman who passed away unexpectedly in 2009. The total running time for the single DVD is 4 hours & 5 mins but the concert itself is only 1 hour & 42 mins long…..that means there’s over 2 hours of bonus material. Now that’s really giving the fans something extra! This DVD would have easily made the #2 spot but the MSG performance was just a bit more special because I had seen it live. ONE NIGHT IN MADRID is a very close 3rd…..maybe if the live album was included in the package instead of a separate release it would have put it in 2nd.

#4

Halford – Live In Anaheim (2010): LIVE IN ANAHEIM is another one of those releases that got a separate DVD and a separate live CD release, it would have been nice to have the whole package together but that’s another issue. This DVD is two parts: Part 1 is a band documentary including four songs performed in Tokyo, Japan in February 2003 and Part 2 is the full 19 song concert in Anaheim from June 2003. This Halford footage is prior to Rob Halford reuniting with his Judas Priest bandmates so the Halford band was his only focus and, at the time, they were promoting and touring the band’s then latest record CRUCIBLE (2002). The band’s performances are tight, Rob is in fine form vocally and the Anaheim setlist is varied enough where there are twelve Judas Priest songs but seven songs coming from CRUCIBLE, RESURRECTION (2001) and some songs from Rob’s days in Fight. Personally, I would prefer more solo/Fight/Halford tunes than the Priest stuff because, well, it’s Halford but at least Rob and the band pull out some lost Priest nuggets like ‘Rapid Fire’, ‘Never Satisfied’ and ‘Riding On The Wind’.

#5

Heaven & Hell – Neon Nights: Live In Europe (2010): This Heaven & Hell live DVD captures the band live headlining the Thursday night opening day of the 2009 Wacken Open Air Festival in Germany. Obviously, with the death of Ronnie James Dio, NEON NIGHTS: LIVE IN EUROPE is the final recorded document of the Dio-era Black Sabbath/Heaven & Hell…..ten months later, Ronnie would pass away. This DVD is the basic Heaven & Hell concert in support of the band’s latest studio album THE DEVIL YOU KNOW (2009) and it’s basically the same set that I saw a month later in Boston. As far as extras go, just a couple of interview segments with each band member including Ronnie. I’m adding this DVD in ahead of a few others I have because the performance is superb and the impact of the music is great. If this is the way we remember Ronnie James Dio and his time in Sabbath, then this is the way to do it.

The Top 5 Music DVDs of 2009

2009 wasn’t the greatest year for Hard Rock and Heavy Metal DVDs. Maybe there weren’t that many released this year? Maybe I just flat out missed them? One factor could be that a lot of bands are packaging bonus DVDs into their proper album releases as bonuses for fans. Slayer, Alestorm, Saxon and KISS were just a few of the bands that did this in 2009, maybe next year I should include these as part of this list criteria? I’m not really sure what the deal is because I didn’t buy nearly as many DVDs in 2009 as I have in the past couple of years. The good news is that bands are still taking great care when producing these DVDs by adding extra content, bonus footage and CDs of live performances to the overall packages and the overall prices have been extremely reasonable. Money has to be spent wisely and the following list of DVDs gave a lot of bang for my hard earned buck! Here’s my list of The Top 5 Music DVDs of 2009:

#1

Iron Maiden – Flight 666 (The Film) DVD (2009): No surprise here! Iron Maiden consistently puts out the best DVDs every single time and FLIGHT 666 was no exception. 2 DVDs packed with a 2 hour documentary a 100+ minute concert performance and a ton of extras…..other bands need to take notice, this is how you release a DVD! FLIGHT 666 gives Iron Maiden the top spot again in the Top 5 DVDs of the year, they were the winner in 2008 with their official release of LIVE AFTER DEATH. I wonder what 2010 will bring?

#2

Anvil – The Story Of Anvil DVD (2009): Just a quick note: the link is for the movie review I did in late May when I went to see it at a local theater. Production started in November 2005 and the film debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2008. The band played select tour dates in 2008 with the movie as support and I missed the show in Worcester, MA…..the good news was the actual theatrical debut in the U.S. was February. I waited on the DVD until it finally arrived in early October and it is basically the same movie as the one I saw in the theaters with the added bonus section with unedited and bonus footage. This was almost a tie for the top spot because I had more of an emotional attachment to the Anvil film seeing that I had cassettes of FORGED IN FIRE and METAL ON METAL back in the day.

#3

Global Metal DVD (2009): I was witing on this documentary to be released for all of 2008 and it NEVER came out. If you have heard of Sam Dunn & Scot McFadyen then it’s from their first film METAL: A HEADBANGER’S JOURNEY, the beginning chapter of the duos’ quest to find out how Metal is perceived, loved, enjoyed and revered by fans all over the world. GLOBAL METAL expands on A HEADBANGER’S JOURNEY and goes to different countries like India, Colombia, Japan and Brazil. It was great seeing the absolute dedication fans in different countries had, it reminded me of my days growing up as a kid and discovering Hard Rock & Heavy Metal…..I still have that same dedication. this set has 2 DVDs with the proper film on the first and all the outtakes and bonus content on the second. Any other year and GLOBAL METAL would easily take the top spot but it had to contend with FLIGHT 666…..coincidentally, Dunn & McFayden also filmed FLIGHT 666 and worked on GLOBAL METAL at the same time!

#4

Jeff Scott Soto – One Night In Madrid DVD (2009): This is a late addition that just made the cut, I just picked this DVD (and the 2 CD set) last week! I’ve been a Jeff Scott Soto fan since the Yngwie days in the early ’80s so I usually buy anything I can with his name attached to it. ONE NIGHT IN MADRID is a solid performance from Jeff’s just completed world tour and it includes a 21 song live show and a ton of bonuses including 8 music videos and bunch of outtakes. A ton of value for the price and a solid performance made this an instant favorite.

#5

Motley Crue – Cruefest 1 DVD (2009): I went with a sentimental choice for my #5 DVD, beating out the other 3 DVDs I had competing for the slot. I’ve been a Crue fan since TOO FAST FOR LOVE (1982) and I’ve seen a ton of Crue tours over the years but I skipped Cruefest 1 when it came to town because I didn’t like the lineup. I even passed on Cruefest 2 this past summer! So why does this get the #5 slot here? Because I like Motley Crue. I liked their last studio album SAINTS OF LOS ANGELES (2008) and I caught their show at Mohegan Sun Arena this past March so I was riding high on Motley Crue when I bought this DVD a couple weeks after the show. The Crue performances make the DVD, and the Buckcherry songs were good, but I could do without the live footage of Trapt, Sixx AM, and Papa Roach. A few bonuses were added in: a behind the scenes road documentary and 6 Crue videos.

Iron Maiden – Flight 666 DVD (2009)

Iron Maiden - Flight 666 DVD

Iron Maiden – Flight 666 DVD (2009, Universal Music)

DVD 1

Iron Maiden – Flight 666 (Film Documentary) – (113 mins)

DVD 2

Tour Setlist (with a song filmed in each of 16 different cities) – (102 mins)

  1. Churchill’s Speech (Mumbai, India)
  2. Aces High (Mumbai, India)
  3. 2 Minutes To Midnight (Melbourne, Australia)
  4. Revelations (Sydney, Australia)
  5. The Trooper (Tokyo, Japan)
  6. Wasted Years (Monterrey, Mexico)
  7. The Number Of The Beast (Los Angeles, USA)
  8. Can I Play With Madness (Mexico City, Mexico)
  9. Rime Of The Ancient Mariner (New Jersey, USA)
  10. Powerslave (San Jose, Costa Rica)
  11. Heaven Can Wait (Sao Paulo, Brazil)
  12. Run To The Hills (Bogota, Colombia)
  13. Fear Of The Dark (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
  14. Iron Maiden (Santiago, Chile)
  15. Moonchild (San Juan, Puerto Rico)
  16. The Clarivoyant (Curitiba, Brazil)
  17. Hallowed Be Thy Name (Toronto, Canada)

Band Lineup:
Bruce Dickinson – Lead Vocals
Steve Harris – Bass
Dave Murray – Guitars
Adrian Smith – Guitars
Janick Gers – Guitars
Nicko McBrain – Drums

Additional Musicians:
Michael Kenney – offstage Keyboards

Produced & Directed by: Sam Dunn & Scot McFayden

Executive Producer: Rod Smallwood

(Region 1, NTSC, Total Running Time = 3 hrs + 35 mins)

Iron Maiden

I was lucky enough to catch Iron Maiden’s Somewhere Back In Time world tour in Mansfield, MA last summer so I was really looking forward to this DVD documentary on the band’s first leg of the tour. FLIGHT 666 is named for the airline call numbers of Iron Maiden’s custom made Boeing 757 airplane (nicknamed Ed Force One) that the band, crew, families and gear flew in to travel over 50,000 miles across the globe to play 23 concerts in 45 days. Making the flights even more special was the fact that lead singer Bruce Dickinson, a pilot for Astraeus Airlines, was behind the controls…..talk about double duty!

Disc 1 is the documentary that takes you behind the scenes from planning the tour to how the band travels and how they spend their time off. There are plenty of interview pieces with band members and crew but the most important part of the film is the focus on the fans and the hysteria that forms when Ed Force One touches down in different countries. Travelling with the band from England to Mumbai, India for the first gig you get hit with the reality that Maiden are a worldwide phenomenon and that Maiden fans are some of the most passionate in the world. Just watching the crowd from Mumbai swirl and sway to ‘Aces High’, and watching the pre-show fan hysterics, I am a bit jealous because I wish the crowds I am usually in here in the U.S. were just as passionate. You can definitely tell the difference between the faithful in India compared to the fans in the U.S. but the real story doesn’t come until the band travel to Mexico and South America.

Iron Maiden has played all over the world and, as Bruce Dickinson put it, ‘The further south they go, the hotter it gets.” How true! Starting with the Mexican dates and moving into Costa Rica, Colombia, a string of dates in Brazil, Argentina and ending in Chile, you really see the height of Maiden fanaticism in the Latin American countries. From the crowds waiting at the airport and hotels to the crowds outside the arenas, you get a sense of just how important Heavy Metal is to these people and I could identify with them. Different fans that were interviewed made it clear that Maiden’s arrival for a show was an important event. You had fans talking about how the gig was “the thing” to see and that friends had quit jobs to be there, others in Colombia spoke about police oppression and how important the Maiden concert was to them. You could see the impact the concerts had with the crying fan in Costa Rica who caught a Nicko drumstick to the fans in Colombia who camped out a week in advance of the show with no food just so they could be close to the stage. It’s this fan interaction that makes the film and it’s exactly what filmmakers Sam Dunn & Scot McFayden have done with their previous films METAL: A HEADBANGER’S JOURNEY and GLOBAL METAL. Seeing the band offstage, mixed with the fan reaction, mixed with parts of the stage performance in each country is a cool way to tell the story.

I like seeing other things bands do on tour besides give the same old interviews with the same old tour stories. Seeing Bruce Dickinson behind the controls of Ed Force One was cool and seeing the band travel with their families was something you don’t immeadiately think of when you think of a Metal tour. There were some Metal dignitaries backstage at the U.S. performances in L.A. and New Jersey, some of them gave interviews or spoke to the cameras (Tom Morello, Kerry King, Lars Ulrich and Vinny Appice) while others were just quick sightings (Ronnie James Dio, Scott Ian, and Doro)…..I always like seeing who’s backstage because I never get there! There are also scenes with band members doing different things on their days off like Adrian Smith playing tennis with the pros in Australia while Nicko McBrain & Dave Murray played golf. There’s the quick soccer match footage in Brazil where I think I might have seen the guys from Sepultura with Steve Harris in a quick shot and there’s also the band exploring the temples in Mexico. I would have liked a little more in depth interviews with some of the band members, specifically the quiet Dave Murray and elusive Janick Gers, but the star of the offstage footage was Mr. Nicko McBrain…..he made the DVD! Just something about the madman behind the drumkit in golfing attire with his hair slicked back just seems so funny!

Disc 2 is the complete setlist live in concert with a song filmed in each of 16 different cities around the world. The setlist is exact to the one I saw in Mansfield on the second leg of the tour so there are some really good Maiden memories attached to the performance but, like Disc 1, the quality of the performances are linked to the crowd reaction of the different countries. You can definitely see the differences between the crowds and how some are more rabid and Metal hungry than others. Watch ‘Aces High’ from Mumbai, India or ‘Powerslave’ from San Jose, Costa Rica and compare it to ‘The Number Of The Beast’ in Los Angeles…..it’s like two completely different worlds. The L.A. crowd seems tame compared to the chaos of any South American, Indian, or Japanese audience!

The running order of the live set doesn’t correspond to the travelling but to the setlist itself. Just like the band criss-crossing the globe, the DVD is a criss-cross of different performances in different countries in order to keep the original running order intact. The L.A. show is sandwiched between Mexican dates and the New Jersey performance seven songs ahead of where it was in the tour itinerary. For me, I would have rather had the original itinerary but the band went with the best performances of their songs and mixed the country order. Not a big deal I guess. The live set is just as solid as all the other live Maiden DVDs but it doesn’t have the same impact as the actual film.

Bottom Line:
Iron Maiden is a legendary Heavy Metal band with an impact that truly is global. Everytime the band releases an album, a DVD or goes on tour, they give 110% and they never disappoint…..this is why they have been one of my favorite bands since I started listening to Metal when I was a kid. When you see an Iron Maiden show, you know you are getting a top notch performance…..and when they translate that live show into a DVD package, you know you are getting possibly the DVD of the year! Last year Maiden released the LIVE AFTER DEATH DVD and it took top honors as the best DVD of 2008, now they give us FLIGHT 666 and it will be hard to beat in 2009! For me, the band could have just released the film and it would still be the best DVD so far this year but they also made sure to give everyone the full Iron Maiden live experience with a 2nd DVD of the concert setlist. Overall, another successful world tour and another visual triumph.

Favorite Songs:
All the songs Iron Maiden played live on this tour were classics but the songs they filmed in India, Mexico and South America are the best because of the crowd reaction. If I had to pick one song that would be my favorite it would be a tie between ‘Powerslave’ (in Costa Rica) and ‘Fear Of The Dark’ (in Colombia).

Severed Ways: The Norse Discovery of America DVD (2009)

severed_ways

Severed Ways: The Norse Discovery of America (2009, Heathen Films/Magnolia Pictures)

(Region 0, NTSC, Total Running Time = 147 minutes)

Director: Tony Stone

Severed Ways
Severed Ways MySpace Films page
Severed Ways on IMDB
Heathen Films
Magnolia Pictures

I enjoy good movies but I’m hardly film aficionado. I took a few film classes in college and I did well in them so I understand, and look for, things that most people might miss when they sit in front of the screen and veg. I enjoy independent films because most offer an alternative point of view and/or subject matter than big budget blockbusters that Hollywood crams down our throats. I got my first exposure to SEVERED WAYS through a news item I read at Bravewords.com that included the two trailers (first one is normal, second is Metal):

Anything that combines Metal music to a unique film concept is right up my alley so I’ve been anticipating watching this DVD for a few weeks. Once I got my copy in my DVD player I kicked back and watched one really good independent film! The film centers around two Viking explorers that have been abandoned by their expedition after a losing battle with the natives (Skrealings) of this newly discovered land (North America). The film tracks their survival and journey as they try to make their way North to rejoin their comrades. The Vikings hunt, build shelter, encounter Christian priests (complete with a church burning), and ultimately meet their demise. The plot doesn’t seem like much but it’s the realism that really hooks you in. Nothing is as real as watching the Vikings survive in the lush forest landscape from their hunting and fighting to actually taking a dump and wiping off with leaves! Honestly, I could have done without a Viking taking a dump but think about it…..isn’t that something that would need to be done? The fight scenes and the killing that is done in the film is brutal in it’s rawness but not gory like a B Horror flick. It’s all about bringing the viewer into the adventure with as much reality as possible. I don’t want to simplify everything here but that is essentially the plot, there really isn’t too much to it. The sub-plot is each Viking’s personal attitudes and their personal journey of self-awareness.  

What makes the film for me is the way it was shot. Obviously this isn’t a Hollywood action flick with millions behind it but I liked the way director Tony Stone used regular cameras as well as handhelds to give the proper perspective. When watching scenes from the handheld cameras you get the sense of urgency and the sense of actually being in the thick of the forest as the events unfold. I also like the fact that there was minimal dialogue and that the actors spoke in what seems to be a Norse language but the subtitles kind of kill the vibe. The film is all about authenticity and realism, I would have rathered heard the dialogue with no subtitles so I could interpret the communication my own way. There is a particular scene in the beginning where the Vikings are feasting on some game and one turns to the other and mentions how “killer” the food is. “Killer”! Seriously, couldn’t someone come up with something less Hot Topic!

The Metal aspects of the film are obvious. First…..Vikings! If there was ever a subject that the Metal world understood it’s Vikings. Second…..Norse mythology vs. Christianity. If there’s another subject that the Metal world undertands it’s Norse mythology. Take a look at most of the Scandinavian Black Metal scene and there are plenty of examples and influences of how pro-Norse/anti-Christian attitudes permeate the music. Third…..the soundtrack. It’s a more subdued Metal soundtrack than I expected, more atmospheric and ambient but still containing the heaviness of Old Man’s Child, Dimmu Borgir, and Burzum among others. There is one scene that seems way out of place…..the headbanging scene in Chapter 2 – Camp. In Chapter 1 – Stranded, the Viking pair make a shelter to survive. At the beginning of Chapter 2, the shelter is built, the Metal music starts out and you see the Viking called Orn headbanging in celebration. Totally out of place! Why go through all the effort of being as authentic as possible and then put in a quick scene of a Viking rocking out?

Bottom Line:
I really enjoyed SEVERED WAYS because of the way the film was presented, the more real it became the more I liked it. The actors did a great job and the way the film was shot added to the realism of being stuck in primitive North America in 1007 A.D. There really isn’t anything Metal about the film except for the underlying soundtrack but it is a cool connection with the Norse theme. If you’re looking for a fantasy based epic from Hollywood then this isn’t the movie for you. If you’re looking for some sort of Heavy Metal themed video, this isn’t the movie for that either. What you get is a basic journey of two stranded Vikings in a foreign land: they eat, they sleep, they crap, they kill, they die. It’s all very basic but the way it’s all presented is the key. Well worth checking out…..

Paul Stanley – One Live KISS DVD (2008)

paul-stanley-one-live-kiss-dvd

Paul Stanley – One Live KISS DVD (2008, Universal/New Door)

Filmed live at the House Of Blues in Chicago, IL on 11/6/2006.

  1. Prologue
  2. Live To Win
  3. Hide Your Heart
  4. A Million To One
  5. Got To Choose
  6. Move On
  7. Bulletproof
  8. Tonight You Belong To Me
  9. Lick It Up
  10. Wouldn’t You Like To Know Me?
  11. Magic Touch
  12. I Still Love You
  13. Strutter
  14. Everytime I See You Around
  15. Do You Love Me
  16. I Want You
  17. Love Gun
  18. Lift
  19. Detroit Rock City
  20. Goodbye
  21. End credits montage – Where Angels Dare/Live To Win

(Region 1, NTSC, Total Running Time = approx 110 mins)

KISSonline
Paul Stanley
KISSFAQ

My favorite band is KISS so when one of the members has a solo or side project it’s the next best thing. I was a big fan of Paul Stanley’s 2006 solo album LIVE TO WIN, especially since KISS hasn’t released any new studio recordings since 1998 but also because I have always believed that Paul is the musical heart and soul of the band. Call him the frontman, the Starchild, call him Gene’s partner but I have always maintained that without Paul Stanley as a creative driving force, KISS in the ’80s would not exist. On to the DVD…..

ONE LIVE KISS is a full concert performance from Paul and his solo band (the band that played on the TV show Rock Star) at the House Of Blues in Chicago on 11/6/2006. Unfortunately I missed the tour that year because it didn’t stop in New England, the closest it came was New York City but having a live DVD does help. The performance is your basic KISS concert without all the gimmicks, fireworks, and structured setting. As Paul himself would say, it a show that “let’s the music do the talking”. The Rock Star band is tight and play extremely well and Paul’s voice sounds particularly good…..he sounded strained on the last U.S. KISS tour (Rock The Nation 2004). What sets this show apart from the typical KISS concert is the variety of the setlist:

  • There are 4 new songs from LIVE TO WIN (a standard if you want to promote a new record)
  • There are 4 songs from the Paul Stanley solo album from 1978, some of which have never been played by KISS (‘Move On’ on the DYNASTY tour) or were played on Paul’s 1988 solo tour)
  • There are 4 KISS rarities that the band would never perform if they toured (‘Hide Your Heart’, ‘A Million To One’, ‘Magic Touch’, ‘I Still Love You’)

Out of the 18 song set, 12 tracks are songs that are basically newcomers to the live arena. When was the last time you heard KISS do a song from one of the ’78 solo albums? Or ‘A Million To One’? Or ‘Magic Touch’? These were the highlights among KISS standards Paul has to do (‘Love Gun’, ‘Detroit Rock City’, etc.) and they sound like they have been played live for years. It’s a basic performance full of music and energy.

Bottom Line:
If you want to see a good concert DVD that is all about the music then you could do a lot worse than ONE LIVE KISS. Paul Stanley and his band sound great and the song selection has something for everyone from the KISS diehards to the casual fans to the fans of Paul’s solo work. There aren’t any bonuses, gimmicks or tricks, it’s all about the music. After watching this DVD I realized something that KISS fans the world over have known for years: Gene Simmons may be the guiding force on the business end but Paul Stanley is the talent on the creative end.

WANTED: Global Metal DVD (2008)

WANTED

global_metal1

Global Metal DVD (2008)

 The journey continues for anthropologist/director Sam Dunn and Scot McFayden as they document Heavy Metal and it’s effects on different societies. GLOBAL METAL (2008) is a continuation of Dunn’s awesome film METAL: A HEADBANGER’S JOURNEY (2006) and the journey goes beyond Europe and North America to countries in the Middle East, Asia, and South America to see just how the music is influencing the different cultures. Dunn’s first DVD was awesome and I watch it a lot, it gives me that extra burst when I feel like things are getting stagnant in my own small corner of the Metal world. I’ve been wanting to see this movie for a while but I knew that the run in theaters was not coming to Rhode Island. The DVD should be available at my local record store and, if the price points I see online are correct, then it should cost $25 for the 2 DVD set.

Gigantour 2 DVD (2008)

Gigantour 2 DVD (2008, Image Entertainment)

Concert footage - (66 mins):

  1. The Smash-Up – ‘Effigy’
  2. Sanctity – ‘Beneath The Machine’
  3. Into Eternity – ‘Severe Emotional Distress’
  4. Overkill – ‘Necroshine’
  5. Overkill – ‘Rotten To The Core’
  6. Arch Enemy – ‘We Will Rise’
  7. Arch Enemy – ‘Nemesis’
  8. Opeth – ‘The Leper Affinity’
  9. Lamb Of God – ‘Vigil’
  10. Lamb Of God – ‘Now You’ve Got Something To Die For’
  11. Megadeth – ‘Take No Prisoners’
  12. Megadeth – ‘The Scorpion’
  13. Megadeth – ‘Washington Is Next’

Bonus Material – (60 mins):

  1. Behind The Scenes documentary
  2. Megadeth – ‘Peace Sells’ (bonus track)

(Region 1, NTSC, Total Running Time = approx. 126 mins)

Gigantour official website
Megadeth official website

Megadeth mainman Dave Mustaine founded the Gigantour in 2005 to bring different styles of Metal, and some of the lesser known Metal bands, to more fans and bigger arenas annually. Currently the tour is in it’s third North American run, headlined by Mustaine’s Megadeth, and is bringing bands like Job For A Cowboy, High On Fire, and Children Of Bodom out of the underground and straight into the mass markets. That is now, what this DVD celebrates is the second Gigantour, featuring some of the big names in Metal: Arch Enemy, Opeth, Lamb Of God and Overkill, and most of the footage is from one of the tour stops in Florida in October 2006.

The DVD breaks down into two parts: the concert footage and the bonus behind the scenes documentary. The concert footage is pretty good…..both audio and video are flawless, everything is crystal clear and there are plenty of cameras. The only complaint I have, and it’s a minor one, is the editing. The edits are fast and furious…..one second you’re looking at the singer, then it’s a quick hit to the drums, quick to the audience, fast to the drums, to the bass, to the audience again, to the singer…..you get the idea. The editing is as fast and frantic as some of the music. Personally, I prefer some long wide shots of the full stage and some lingering shots on band members for more than a couple seconds. That said though, the picture and camera work is well done. I did notice that some of the swearing in the onstage banter (watch Lamb Of God’s set) is deleted, kind of odd for a Metal DVD.

The performances are top notch of course, each band is at the top of their game. The whole DVD is a sampling so it’s not each band’s full setlist but only a couple of songs. I have never heard the music of The Smashup or Sanctity and each only gets one song, as does Into Eternity who is a superb Metal band. I would have loved to get a couple more songs from Into Eternity but there is only so much room and ‘Severe Emotional Distress’ has to satisfy. Thrash legends Overkill sound just as good now as they did almost 25 years ago pumping out the classic ‘Rotten To the Core’ and the title track from 1999′s NECROSHINE. Angela Gossow of Arch Enemy showed me that she has an intense vocal delivery, I knew that from the albums already but to see her on stage was pretty cool. This great singer delivers some of the most brutal, almost painful looking, growls and screams I have ever heard/seen over some serious guitar work.

I was a little disappointed to only get one song (‘The Leper Affinity’) from Opeth but it was a seriously long one from BLACKWATER PARK (2001). Only so much time on the DVD for every band but you could tell that Opeth had to have put on a great show because it was a flawless performance. Lamb Of God gets the audience up to a moshing frenzy with ‘Vigil’ and ‘Now You’ve Got Something To Die For’. I remember when Lamb Of God debuted as Burn The Priest and now here they are second billing to the legendary Megadeth! The headliners get the most songs on the DVD with three barnburners in ‘Take No Prisoners’ (from 1990′s RUST IN PEACE), ‘The Scorpion’ (from 2004′s underrated THE SYSTEM HAS FAILED) and ‘Washington Is Next’ off the latest record UNITED ABOMINATIONS (2007). If you count the bonus track of ‘Peace Sells’, that’s four big ones from the headliner!

The Bonus Material section breaks down into two parts: the ‘Peace Sells’ bonus track and a 60 minute tour documentary. The documentary is a behind the scenes look at the tour from load in to break down, from backstage drama to on the road hi-jinx. What is cool is the commentary from Dave Mustaine on each band and why he hand-picked them for Gigantour and the interviews with the other bands. It’s a solid supplement to the actual performances and is something more than just a bonus.

Bottom Line:
I missed the tour last year (and now this year too!) but this DVD gives me a sample of what I missed. Audio and visual are professionally well done, the band’s are all in top form, and the performances are brutal, headbanging, and amazing. Some of the bands on the tour I was only a casual fan of (Arch Enemy, Opeth, Lamb Of God) but now I will pay a lot more attention to them. Into Eternity and Overkill were already bands I enjoyed but seeing a bit of live stuff has me looking forward to their next tours. Megadeth never disappoints…..I’ve seen them live many times and they always put in a solid show. If you want to see some different bands, some heavy bands, some bands that are huge in the Metal scene then go pick up Gigantour 2 DVD.

There’s also a CD version with a slightly different tracklisting but I haven’t picked that one up yet.

KISS Loves You (A Film By Jim Heneghan) DVD (2007)

KISS Loves You DVD (2007)

KISS Loves You DVD (2007, MVD Visual/8th Grade Films)

A film by Jim Heneghan for 8th Grade Films

Main Feature: KISS Loves You documentary film

Bonus Features:

  • Super-8mm footage of KISS live in Stockholm, 1976 (no audio)
  • 90 minutes of Outtakes from the film
  • The Beyond Vaudeville KISS Spectacular program
  • Extended footage of the 1996 KISS Reunion press conference from the USS Intrepid

(Region 1, NTSC, Total Running Time = 2 hrs 48 mins)

MVD Visual
8th Grade Films

KISS Loves You is a film ten years in the making that began in 1994 when KISS was probably at their lowest point of their success and popularity. Despite the changes in the music industry, and in the musical tastes of the public, fans of KISS were congregating at unofficial KISS conventions, starting KISS tribute bands, and networking through various mailing lists and fanzines. Remember, this was years before the Internet took over the world, the ingenuity and dedication of fans t o put these things together are incredible.

The film follows a select few super fans (the “KISS family”, Bill Baker from Fractured Mirror, etc) and various tribute bands (Hotter Than Hell, Strutter, Dressed To Kill, Fractured Mirror) and sees their 10 year journey through the highs and lows of being a KISS diehard. You get to see personal collections, hear personal statements, and witness real emotion when it comes to the band. There is plenty of convention footage of fans dressed as KISS members, fans giving testimonials, merchandise, art…..put it this way: if it’s KISS-related, it’s here! Also, a few well-known Rock celebrities are interviewed briefly: Dee Snider, Sebastian Bach, Dick Manitoba (The Dictators).

A real treat is home video footage of Ace Frehley out with his good friend Bill Baker at a mall, Gene Simmons & Paul Stanley raiding a KISS convention with police to recover stolen costumes from their warehouse, and also Peter Criss doing a Q&A at another unofficial KISS con. I also liked the various tribute bands performances and the dedication of the fans.

There is a huge bonus section that includes outtakes, a New York cable access show (The Beyond Vaudeville show) on KISS, and especially the never before circulated Super-8 silent film of KISS performing in Stockholm in ’76. For collector’s, the Super-8 footage is reason enough to buy this DVD.

Bottom Line:
What the film really shows is the dedication, rather the fanaticism, that some people have for the band KISS and all it’s universe. The fans are all characters, all unique and quirky. It takes a special breed to love something/someone that much that it borders on addiction. KISS fans are like Trekkies or Star Wars fans: they live for and through the band.

There are times when the stories are fun and pretty cool but then, as the years go by, the tales become a little pathetic. I can say “pathetic” because I am one of those people, I am a KISS diehard. I have been in the lines to buy KISS albums the day of release. I have attended many KISS conventions (what ever happened to New England KISS?). I have seen tribute bands in concert and I have seen the real band over 20 times since 1987. I could easily relate to the film because I should have been in it!

If you’re a fan of KISS, go out and get this!