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.

CD Scavenger Hunt (November update)

In an attempt to not only keep track of my purchases, and to also keep this post from being two months late, I am actually going to add to this post throughout the month! A genius of an idea…..not sure why I hadn’t thought of it before. The added bonus is that I can clear up some desk space. I should really take an updated picture of my desk because I have a pile of purchases, a pile of promos, the pile of press releases and then my own notes…..and that’s just on the left side! Then there’s the pile of CDs that I want to upload into iTunes on the right…..don’t get me started on that. So here’s November’s buying update……

Ebay

Johnny Crash – Neighborhood Threat (1990) – $18 used: I have been on the search for this CD for about 8 years…..for a decent price. I used to go to this record store from around 1997 to 2002 when it finally closed and I used to get a ton of great used CDs every weekend. This was back in the day when the Internet, Ebay, Napster, and trading in used CDs for cash were all really a new thing (at least here in Rhode Island!). Anyway, I used to scrounge the used racks and I could come away with about 20 used CDs for $100 and they were all Hard Rock and Heavy Metal. You don’t know how many times I debated buying this CD and how many times I put off grabbing it because I found something else “more important”. Once that specific store closed it’s doors, I never saw another Johnny Crash CD. You can get one online through various outlets but Ebay has always seemed the easiest but I never bothered to pick one up because I thought that $20+ for it was too much, especially when I had seen it for $5 used in person. As the years have gone by, the amount of copies on Ebay have dwindled and the price has gone up. I have had this album on my Saved Searches for at least a couple of years and, one day last week, a notification came via email of a new listing with a BUY IT NOW price of $15 + $3 shipping. I jumped on it immeadiately!

Newbury Comics

The Big Four (Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth & Anthrax) – Live From Sofia, Bulgaria (2010) box set – $55: Nothing would be better than to see the Big 4 of Thrash on tour in the U.S. but, for now, this live set from the 2010 European Tour will have to be enough. I grew up listening to all four bands so this was a no-brainer purchase for me, the only thing that bothered me was the price because $55 is expensive. I could have settled for the 2 DVD set for $20 but I wanted the audio as well so the 4 CD/2 DVD box set was the only option. Also included in the box set besides the CDs, DVDs and the box is a set of four photo cards (one for each band), a full color booklet and a guitar pick. The price really had me debating the purchase because I can get three or four different new releases for that amount but I reasoned that I was get more bang for the buck with one set. Plus, the regular price was $75 and waiting to use gift cards I will eventually get for the holidays would technically make it free…..but also $20 more expensive. I ended up saving $20.

Kiske/Somerville – s/t (2010) – $18: I have been wanting to pick this album up since it was announced first, because of Michael Kiske’s involvement (I’m a Helloween fan from way back in the ’80s) and second because Amanda Somerville jumped on my radar with her beautiful voice. I thought the concept was interesting in pairing the two singers and then I read a ton of positive reviews…..every once in a while I get an album stuck in my head that I just need to have, this was THAT album. The album came out a few weeks ago and I had been eyeballing it through the usual online stores but the price always floated up around $20 with shipping…..then the CD got a proper U.S. release and was on sale the first week. Unfortunatelt, the record store only stocked one copy the day it came out and someone managed to get to the store before me that Tuesday! This turned out to be one of the more pricey CDs I bought recently because I missed out on the initial sale price but I ended up with a comparable price compared to online and I didn’t have to wait for the mail.

Dio – Dio At Donnington, UK: Live 1983 & 1987 (2010) – $12: It’s been a rough time for me being a big fan of Ronnie James Dio and all the bands he fronted over the years, his death earlier this year affected me greatly because he was a big musical presence in my Metal journey of the last three decades. Besides groing up with the Dio band, I became a HUGE fan of his era in Black Sabbath/Heaven & Hell and he led my favorite Rainbow lineup. One of the things I did after news of his passing was to listen to Ronnie’s collective work even more so there was a comfort in the music. This was a must have live set for me, not just because Ronnie is gone, but because I wanted to get my hands on an official release of both these legendary Dio shows at the Monsters Of Rock at Donnington. I hope that Ronnie’s wife Wendy continues to release classic archival material of Ronnie because his music is so great. Regular price was $18 for the 2 CD set so I saved $6 grabbing it on release day.

Helloween – 7 Sinners (2010) – $10: Like I mentioned up above, I started as a Helloween fan back in the ’80s with both KEEPER OF THE SEVEN KEYS albums but somewhere in the early to mid-’90s I lost touch with the band. Some of the best Helloween albums have been released since 1998 when I rediscovered a lot of my old favorite bands when I got my Internet connection: 1998′s BETTER THAN RAW, 2000′s THE DARK RIDE and 2007′s GAMBLING WITH THE DEVIL. It just seems like Helloween just keeps pumping out record after record every couple of years, 7 SINNERS is their sixth studio album since 1998. I received a digital promotional copy of the album a couple of weeks prior to the release but there was a problem downloading the album so I never got to hear it! I would have spent the money on the proper CD for my personal collection anyway (this happens a lot!) and getting the CD on the day of release for $9.99 helped out a lot. Regular price was $16 so I saved $6.

GWAR – Bloody Pit Of Horror (2010) – $10: Didn’t GWAR just release an album last year? They did, LUST IN SPACE (2009). Nice to see the band trying to take over the world again as quickly as possible with two new albums and two world tours in two years. GWAR are the originators and bands like Mushroomhead, Lordi and Slipknot are capitalizing on an image that GWAR started all the way back in 1988! This was on my list of new releases to buy but it came out the same day as the new Dio and Helloween albums, then I found the Kiske/Somerville album, and I decided that I was going to spend too much money. Money is never an issue for me as long as the bills are paid and the family is fed but it’s getting close to the holidays and I didn’t want to overdue it…..I bought it anyway! The way I looked at it was that I would come back in a couple of weeks and have to pay the full price ($15) so I would be saving $5 by picking it up now. Plus, spending $10 now or in two weeks still means you’ve spent $10!

W.A.S.P. – s/t (1984) – $10 used: ever since Newbury Comics opened a store about 3 miles from my house, i never go to the Warwick, RI store anymore. True Rhode Islanders hate going anywhere if it takes longer than 15-20 minutes and the ride to Warwick, with traffic, can be 25 minutes. Needless to say, unless there’s other things that need to be done in the area, I don’t go down that way. After pulling a double shift at work, I came home to find that my wife was heading to Warwick to check out some holiday dishes for Thanksgiving…..the bribe for me to join her and the kids was Dunkin Donuts and a stop at the Warwick Newbury. This was a good trip because I found a lot of used bargains and this W.A.S.P. debut started it off. A little backstory here….. Back in 2003 when my wife was pregnant with our second daughter, she was out of work and we were cutting as many corners as possible. One thing I started to do was sell CDs I found on Ebay…..once my inventory was gone, I took a long look at my collection. I had all the original pressings of all the W.A.S.P. albums from the debut through CRIMSON IDOL but I also had the 1999 reissues with bonus tracks (the same reissues they keep re-releasing in different packaging every year!). Needing cash, I put the lot on Ebay and I think I scored $100! Over the years, I have regretted selling my original pressings because I think the reissues sound inferior so I’ve been on the hunt. When I saw this CD in the used bin, it was a definite purchase.

Tipton, Entwistle & Powell – Edge Of The World (2006) – $5 used: Here’s a disc that I passed up on four years ago and I have never seen cheap since the original sale price. Back in 2006, Glenn Tipton re-released his 1997 solo album BAPTIZM OF FIRE with two bonus tracks that were actually the Japanese bonus tracks from the 1997 release. I already had the original album so I didn’t bother but what did get my interest was this album that was released at the same time. So you have Glenn Tipton, The Who’s legendary bassist John Entwistle, legendary drummer Cozy Powell and keyboardist Don Airey working on a bunch of songs that weren’t done for BAPTIZM OF FIRE. Originally, this was supposed to be the band on BAPTIZM but the label got involved and these songs, and the lineup, got shelved. So the tracks finally see the light of day after close to ten years and 8 years after Cozy’s passing and 2 years after John’s. I never picked this up back then because I figured it would always be available, and it was, at $18 regular price. After a couple of years, the album disappeared off store shelves and I forgot about it…..$5 now is a great deal!

707 (featuring Kevin Russell) – Trip To Heaven (2000) – $4 used: I have this rule that if you’re going to rummage through the bargain bins, go through all of them thoroughly…..you never know what you might find. I’m an old school record store guy so I recognize a lot of obscure bands from my days as a kid flipping through racks of vinyl and cassettes, I recognized 707 right away. You may remember 707 from the early ’80s with their single ‘Mega Force’ but I remember them as being on Casablanca Records (KISS’ label). The band also got some publicity when Tod Howarth joined Frehley’s Comet and you may remember  singer Kevin Chalfant being a part of the band too. I wasn’t sure what kind of release this was but at $4 used, I figured that I could take a chance. Turns out Kevin Russell and 707 have been putting out some new material and re-releasing the old stuff.

Kotipelto – Waiting For The Dawn (2002) – $3 used: Bargain of the day! How can you pass up any Metal CD for $3? I recognized the band name as Timo Kotipelto from Stratovarius so I new that this was going to be some sort of Power Metal album. The album was released in 2002 on Century Media Records so I knew it had a regular release a few years ago but I didn’t remember Timo being solo. I grabbed this anyway, taking a chance again, but there was a second copy at the same price. Now the wheels are turning in my head…..could I sell this on Ebay? Good thing for cell phones! Turns out that this album sells for around$5 at auction so there wasn’t much upside to buying both copies but at least I got a great bargain! Perfect CD, as if it had never been played. No cut-outs, no wrinkles on the booklet, even the jewel case was in mint condition.

Sharon – Edge Of Time (1999) – $5 used: Another bargain! I’ve seen this album before back when it first came out in 1999 and I was a twice a week regular at 2 Guys Music in Warwick. That was a great place to get an education about what was coming out on European labels like Frontiers, SPV, Limb, Escape, Z Records etc. This CD came out in 1999 on Limb Music and distributed by SPV so I knew that I had at least found a Metal CD. What sold me right away, aside from the low price, was the gold sticker on the front of the jewel case that described the album as “sharp and timeless Melodic Rock & Metal”. That’s enough for me! From what I can tell, this was Sharon’s only release and the sound is a little dated from what the reviews say. I took the chance figuring that Melodic Metal from Germany, on a good label, can’t be all that bad. Plus, I checked Ebay on my phone and there weren’t any copies available for less than $9!

Domain – Stardawn (2006) – $9 used: Another awesome bargain! I would probably have to put this ahead of the Kotipelto CD as “bargain of the day” because this is a 3 disc set! STARDAWN was released in 2006 on Limb Music/SPV and it’s a 3 disc set including the STARDAWN album, a 16 song best of CD from 1988-2005 and a 9 song DVD titled SEVEN DAYS IN KOREA (LIVE 2005). I never let a nice set like this go: a 5 panel digipak, full color booklets, full color packaging, 2 CDs, a DVD and it’s a limited edition for Domain’s 20th Anniversary limited to 4000 copies worldwide. I didn’t see a serial number to designate which number out of 4000 I own but this STARDAWN collection isn’t something I’ve seen in local stores before.  Taking a quick look at my collection, it looks like I’ve picked up two or three Domain albums over the years but I don’t think I really have given the band much listening time.

Black Country Communion – s/t (2010) – $18: I ended up paying full price for this one because I passed on it the first couple of weeks after the album’s official release and, when I went to buy it on this trip, the sale price was gone. The sale price when this CD came out was $12.88 so I ended up paying $5 extra but I still felt OK about the higher price because I’ve heard such good things about this record. You’ve got Glenn Hughes, Joe Bonamassa, Jason Bonham and Derek Sherinian…..that’s as solid a lineup for a band as I’ve ever seen. Supergroup? Yeah, I’d say so…..it’s safe to say each musician is at the top of the list among their peers. I had this on my list just for Glenn Hughes, one of the greatest Rock singers of all time! The added bonus here is that the CD came with a bonus DVD that includes a video, interviews, behind the scenes in the studio and a photo gallery. If the album is as good as I’ve read, I’ll forget all about the high price.

Halford – Crucible (Remixed & Remastered) (2010) – $11: I picked this up to complete the Halford collection of remasters and because there were two copies, this one on sale and the other at regular price of $15. The sticker on the CD promotes the CRUCIBLE album remixed and remastered including four new tracks but, if you look closely, the four new tracks are really the two bonus tracks for the limited edition of the original pressing and the two bonus tracks for the Japanese import of the original pressing. This was one of those purchases that could have waited because I already have all the bonus tracks but, I was looking for something to buy and the sale sticker was calling my name. All the Halford remasters/reissues are top quality so I assume this one is more of the same. I haven’t opened it yet but when ido I will sit there and compare this to the original. Saved $4.

Halford – Live in Anaheim DVD (2010) – $15: For some reason, this DVD wasn’t released at the same time as the CD. I picked up the live album when it came out but this DVD came out a few weeks later and really flew under the radar. I could have pre-ordered this through the Halford website but I figured there would be a sale price and I could save a few bucks. The release date came and went and there was no mention in my weekly e-newsletter from the record store and there were no copies stocked in the store. About a month ago, I noticed that three brand new copies were in stock but regular priced. I decided to wait because there were three copies and there was no need to rush for it. A week later there were two copies…..two weeks after that I notice that there is only one Halford DVD left. I wasn’t going to risk another week, who knows who would buy it? This DVD includes the Anaheim concert obviously but also a documentary that includes four songs performed in Japan.

Black Sabbath – The Eternal Idol (Deluxe Edition) (2010) – $35: OK, the price on this may stagger you but this is the standard price for this UK import. I’m not usually sucked into buying these “deluxe editions” that seem to be coming out for every single band now but I do have a few but there were some serious bonuses and the new editions were released in the U.S. I already own THE ETERNAL IDOL (1987), and I’m a big Sabbath fan, especially post-Ozzy, but there was one reason why this deluxe edition way high on my want list…..the sessions with Ray Gillen on vocals. Back in ’87, Ray Gillen (ex-Badlands) was the singer for Black Sabbath having taken over for Glenn Hughes during the tour for THE SEVENTH STAR (1986). The band hit the studio after the tour but for some reason it wasn’t working out with Ray Gillen on vocals…..Tony Martin eventually came in to replace Ray (who went to Badlands with Jake E. Lee) and just re-cut the vocals. The Ray Gillen sessions have been widely circulated in bootleg form but this is the first time Tony Iommi has allowed these recordings to be officially released. Another cool bonus is the two B-sides from the proper album: ‘Black Moon’ and ‘Some Kind Of Woman’. I was so worried about having to order this online that I bit the bullet and bought this right away…..and this was the only CD I bought on this specific shopping trip.

Issa – Sign Of Angels (2010) – $16: This is one of those albums where I heard a track and had to have it. Issa is a new artist on Frontiers Records and, obviously, it’s female-fronted melodic Hard Rock. I had a digital promo of the album, downloaded it to iTunes, listened to it once and accidently deleted it! So I checked out the video for the second track on the album, ‘I’m Alive’, and I just had this idea in my head that I had to have this album! The problem was I saw only one copy in the record store when the album was released and I hadn’t seen it since. I didn’t want to pay the high import price online for a new artist that I only really new by a video but I ended up paying the same price when I found a fresh copy about a month later. I’m a sucker for female-fronted bands but this is an impressive album, push this back 20 years and it’s a major hit.

Heaven & Hell – Neon Nights: Live In Europe (2010) – $10: This is the live CD of Heaven & Hell’s performance at the 2009 Wacken Open Air festival on the tour for THE DEVIL YOU KNOW (2009). My favorite Black Sabbath lineup is the one with Ronnie James Dio so I would have snapped this live album up anyway but, with Ronnie’s passing still fresh, it was even more important to me to buy it. There’s just something about Ronnie James Dio that has really hit home with me over the last ten or twelve years and he has crept up into my Top 10 favorite artists/bands. Doesn’t matter if it’s Sabbath, Rainbow, solo, Elf or gueat appearances, I just have had a need over the last decade or so to collect all things Dio. Now that he’s gone, I want even more Dio music. Anyway, I saw this tour in Boston the same summer so it’s a nice way to re-live a great show. Saved $5 on the CD…..there was also a DVD released the same day.

Firewind – Days Of Defiance (2010) – $12: With Gus G. touring as Ozzy’s new guitarist, I completely forgot that a new Firewind album was coming out! Newbury Comics didn’t forget because there were at least ten copies available all with nice sale tags. I have a couple of Firewind CDs so I put this on my list and ended up going back and picking this up right away instead of waiting another week. You know what your getting with Firewind…..European Power Metal and excellent guitar work from Gus G. Usually I don’t get too excited over a new Firewind album but I must have had a Gus G. hangover after seeing Ozzfest and re-visiting the Dream Evil album that was released earlier in the year. Gus G. is having a pretty good year in 2010! I’ll tell you what sold me on picking this up right away…..there was something else released the same day that wasn’t in stock when I got to the record store so I spent the money I had on Firewind and still saved $4, regular price was $16. And that item was…..

Heaven & Hell – Neon Nights: Live In Europe DVD (2010) – $10: The DVD version of the new Heaven & Hell live album was released the same day as Firewind but the store only stocked two copies of the DVD and I got to the store an hour after it opened so I missed out. I got the CD no problem, there were plenty of copies of that available but the DVD is what I really wanted. I wanted to see the show one more time because I had seen the Boston tour stop and it was a great show. I had the guy at the counter check the next delivery date, which was the next day, so I had it reserved. Show up the next day and the DVD didn’t come in, only more live CDs so my pal at the counter took my name and number and promised me a copy ASAP. Another 24 hours and I get a phone call from the store that my DVD is in so i made my third trip to the record store in two days for one DVD…..at least I got it and saved $5 in the process, regular price was $15.

David ‘Rock’ Feinstein – Bitten By The Beast (2010) – $10: And the Ronnie James Dio releated releases keep on coming! David ‘Rock’ Feinstein is Dio’s cousin and was in early Dio bands like Ronnie & The Prophets and Elf with RJD but you might remember Feinstein best from his days with The Rods. I remembered reading a year or so ago that Feinstein was working on two new albums: a solo album and a new Rods album both with performances from Ronnie. The album was going to be released by Ronnie and Wendy Dio’s label, Niji Entertainment, and Ronnie not only performed a song, ‘Metal Will never Die’, he helped Feinstein mix and master the album before his death. I probably would have picked this up eventually but because of Ronnie’s death, the Dio radar is up and I have to have more Dio related music. Picked this up on sale for $10, regular price was $14, so I saved $4.

Yngwie Malmsteen – Relentless (2010) – $12: Can anyone tell me why Yngwie has to release new albums so close to the end of the year? He did the same thing with his last record a couple years ago and I totally missed it! Anyway, I’m a Malmsteen fan all the way back to Steeler and Alcatrazz so I usually buy Yngwie’s new records but I wasn’t going to initially because I was sent a digital promo…..or so I thought. I get a lot of promos, mostly digital downloads and, if I like the band or album, I usually go buy it because I’m a collector. I got an email from Yngwie’s promotional people offering a digital copy of the album for review but, when I followed the links, I got a digital stream that wasn’t downloadable. I like to download this stuff into my iPod and listen to these album’s on the go but I was chained to my computer to hear RELENTLESS. Now I get the whole priacy thing and I don’t question an artist from trying to avoid it but it was just an inconvenience…..so I didn’t bother with it. I even forgot the album was released! I happened to see it when I grabbed the Feinstein CD and noticed the good sale price, regular price was $18. I didn’t want to pay such a high price knowing that I would end up grabbing this eventually so i bought it and saved $6. By the way, Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens is back on the vocals.

Total = $298

Total (year) = $1758

Average Price (per item) = $10.72

Total CDs (year) = 149

Total DVDs (year) = 6

Total Box Sets (year) = 7

Total LPs (year) = 2

The Big 4 (Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth & Anthrax) – Live From Sofia, Bulgaria (2010) box set

The Big 4 – Live From Sofia, Bulgaria (2010, Warner Bros.)

DVD 1: Live From Sonisphere Festival, Sofia, Bulgaria – 6/22/2010
(Each band played approximately 1 hour sets.)

Anthrax
Caught In A Mosh
Got The Time
Madhouse
Be All, End All
Antisocial
Indians/Heaven And Hell
Medusa
Only
Metal Thrashing Mad
I Am The Law

Megadeth
Holy Wars…The Punishment Due
Hangar 18
Wake Up Dead
Head Crusher
In My Darkest Hour
Skin O’ My Teeth
A Tout Le Monde
Hook In Mouth
Trust
Sweating Bullets
Symphony Of Destruction
Peace Sells/Holy Wars Reprise

Slayer
World Painted Blood
Jihad
War Ensemble
Hate Worldwide
Seasons In The Abyss
Angel Of Death
Beauty Through Order
Disciple
Mandatory Suicide
Chemical Warfare
South Of Heaven
Raining Blood

DVD 2: Live From Sonisphere Festival, Sofia, Bulgaria – 6/22/2010
(Metallica played a 2 hour set, the documentary is 45 mins.)

Metallica
Creeping Death
For Whom The Bell Tolls
Fuel
Harvester Of Sorrow
Fade To Black
This Was Just Your Life
Cyanide
Sad But True
Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
All Nightmare Long
One
Master Of Puppets
Blackened
Nothing Else Matters
Enter Sandman
Am I Evil?
Hit The Lights
Seek & Destroy

DVD Extra – Backstage documentary including interviews and rehearsal footage of ‘Am I Evil?’

Anthrax
Joey Belladonna – lead vocals
Scott Ian – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Rob Caggiano – lead guitar
Frank Bello – bass, backing vocals
Charlie Benante – drums

Megadeth
Dave Mustaine – lead vocals, guitar
Chris Broderick – guitar, backing vocals
David Ellefson – bass, backing vocals
Shawn Drover – drums

Slayer
Tom Araya – vocals, bass
Jeff Hanneman – guitar
Kerry King – guitar
Dave Lombardo – drums

Metallica
James Hetfield – lead vocals, rhythm guitar
Kirk Hammett – lead guitar, backing vocals
Robert Trujillo – bass, backing vocals
Lars Ulrich – drums

Region 0, NTSC
Total Running Time (DVD 1)
= approx. 3 hours
Total Running Time (DVD 2) = approx. 2 hours & 45 mins
Anthrax CD = 1:03:22
Megadeth CD = 1:01:04
Slayer CD = 1:01:54
Metallica double CD = 1:05:37 & 1:05:57

Metallica
Slayer
Megadeth
Anthrax

Filmed and recorded at the Sofia, Bulgaria stop on the Sonisphere Festival Tour (6/22/2010), this DVD/CD set captures an event that Metal fans around the world have been hoping for: the Big 4 of Thrash all sharing the same concert bill/tour. What was at least a year in the making from a negotiation standpoint, all four bands (Anthrax, Megadeth, Slayer, Metallica) all toured throughout parts of Europe together on the Sonisphere Festival tour, something that I can’t remember ever being done before. All I know is that I grew up with each band being a cornerstone of the Thrash movement back in the ’80s and it’s hard to deny the four bands’ history and legacy when it comes to Heavy Metal music. In addition to the Metal faithful in attendance in Sofia, the concert was screened in over 800 cinemas worldwide on the same day. This was a historical tour and I was sure that a DVD was going to be released and Lars Ulrich himself announced such plans to the audience at the show so I was eagerly awaiting this release. Once it was released, I paid the extra money for the complete audio & video deluxe set.

The Package:
I expected a nice box set and that’s exactly what I got. The box itself is a little larger than a regular DVD case and definitely deeper to fit all the materials. Inside is the DVD set and it’s the casing I don’t like much with one DVD sitting halfway over the top of the other, I always worry about scratches even though I am strictly careful. Also included are a full color booklet with plenty of photos and credits, a double-sided foldout poster with the box set artwork on one side and the tour poster on the other, four picture cards (one for each band) and a special guitar pick. After all that is removed, the five CD set is nestled inside! Each CD is housed in a cardboard slipcase with the band’s logo and a picture of parts of the drum kit, Metallica’s double disc is in a double-sided cardboard slipcase with logo and pictures of the crowd and the band in action.

The DVDs:
There are 2 DVDs and close to 6 hours of footage. DVD 1 includes complete sets by Anthrax, Megadeth and Slayer in that order and they were edited on site after each performance so the show could be viewed around the world in cinemas on the same day. DVD 2 is the full Metallica headline set and a bonus documentary of the backstage area and the rehearsal footage of the bands together on ‘Am I Evil?’. All the performances are recorded and filmed crystal clear (this isn’t bootleg material!) and each band gives their performances their all. I wasn’t surprised by the running order of bands like a lot of people were online: obviously Anthrax would open and Metallica would headline but where would Megadeth and Slayer slot in? I wasn’t surprised to see Megadeth second considering that the past bad blood between Dave Mustaine and his former Metallica bandmates might be too much to get Dave to open just before Metallica came on. The more I thought about it though, Slayer is just as huge internationally as Megadeth if not more in certain countries. Who knows? I thought the running order was great and I enjoyed each band’s set. DVD 2 has the full Metallica set, the big draw being the four band jam on the Diamond Head classic ‘Am I Evil?’, and the behind the scenes documentary. If I had to choose which DVD is better, I would pick the first one because I think Anthrax, Megadeth and Slayer are truer to the cause than Metallica. I know I will take a ton of criticism for that statement but I really haven’t been into Metallica since the Black album…..I have all the albums since and see the band live but I just prefer the older stuff, the stylistic changes to their overall sound, as well as, their commercial aspirations have soured me over the last 20 years. I have enjoyed albums and concerts by Anthrax, Megadeth and Slayer a lot more in the last 20 years and I have become more of a fan of those bands as time has gone by when compared with Metallica. Like I said before, each band puts on a great show and the ‘Am I Evil?’ jam was really cool even if only Dave Lombardo from Slayer performed. If I had to pick the best performance for me it would be a tie between Anthrax and Slayer, I just enjoyed those more. The documentary after the Metallica performance was cool, you got a look at backstage life with each band, rehearsal/soundcheck footage, meet & greets with fans, band interactions and look at the stage area. Like the regular performance, the rehearsals for ‘Am I Evil?’ were extremely cool to be captured on film. One thing I really want to point out during all the bands’ performances is the crowd. Starting with Anthrax and ending with Metallica, the people packed into the stadium were ravenous for Metal and the bands. Anthrax had a large crowd to open that would easily fill arenas and sheds in the U.S. and, as the day continued, the crowds got bigger and hungrier for each band. I always like seeing Metal DVDs filmed outside the U.S. because it goes to show that there is a deep rooted love for all types of Heavy Metal around the world.

The CDs:
I think the best way to sum up the five audio CDs is that they are cool bonuses. The main reason you buy this set is to see the DVD of the entire concert, the CDs are a cool way to re-live that on your stereo or iPod. For me, I liked having the live sets on CD because I have listened to them in the car and on my iPod…..you can only sit in front of a TV for so long! This way you get four live albums for your collections and each one is an exact copy of the performances on DVD, nothing is missing.

Bottom Line:
If you couldn’t be there, or you didn’t have a theater near you that was screening the show, then this is a really cool box set to pick up. I paid the extra money to have the complete box set with the audio and video but there is a DVD only set that is priced lower, I’m not sure if it has all the extras like the poster, pick and pictures. Everything is professionally done, all the performances look and sound great and the behind the scenes documentary is definitely a bonus highlight. If your a fan of all or just a few of these bands, i recommend picking this up and watching a piece of Heavy Metal history.

Favorite Highlights:
Anthrax – ‘Got The Time’ & ‘Indians/Heaven And Hell’
Megadeth – ‘In My Darkest Hour’ & ‘Symphony Of Destruction’
Slayer – ‘Angel Of Death’ & ‘Raining Blood’
Metallica – ”For Whom The Bell Tolls’, ‘Am I Evil?’ & ‘Hit The Lights’