I picked up this DVD primarily to see Dream Theater and Megadeth. I have never been a big fan of the whole thrash metal scene, or any other genre whose concerts feature a mosh pit. I am more a student of the Sabbath, Priest, Maiden inspired school of heavy metal, with a stronger leaning towards the progressive side of the tracks these days. There have been a few obvious exceptions to my thrash metal aversion, most notably Megadeth and Metallica – hell, some of Dream Theater's heavier songs border on this style, but I'd consider them thrash-light compared to some of these other bands dominating the scene.
The bands on Gigantour are obviously more than just thrash metal – you also get elements of prog, death, alternative, speed, and power metal. I only use thrash as the best overall descriptor. Thrash is essentially a marriage of hardcore punk and heavy metal, infused with technical proficiency, and taken to the heaviest of extremes – where traditional heavy metal is more like blues rock on steroids. I have never been a fan of punk, hardcore, or speed metal, so it is no surprise that I find most thrash bands difficult to digest. Some of the performances on this DVD have certainly helped to reinforce my attitude.
The only other band on this tour, besides Dream Theater and Megadeth, that I was somewhat familiar with was Symphony X, as they were once one of the more promising American progressive metal bands on the scene. I guess they still are. Dream Theater and Megadeth were worth the price of this DVD alone for me, but I took it as an opportunity to evaluate some of the other rising and semi-veteran stars on the heavy metal scene. I viewed this DVD in the order it was presented, from opening band up to the headliners.
Gigantour was filmed live at the Bell Center (or Centre Bell), Montreal, Canada, on September 2nd, 2005. Before each of the band's sets, Gigantour creator and Megadeth leader, Dave Mustaine gives his thoughts on why he chose each of the bands for this tour. Bobaflex was chosen primarily because Mustaine's son is a big fan of the band. They are only represented here by their energetic performance of "Better Than Me" from their 2005 album Apologize For Nothing.
From this particular performance, I would describe them as a thrash version of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The singer uses the standard growling vocals that are common for the genre, and which I can't stand. They did weave in some decent melodies and rhythms while thrashing around the stage non-stop.
Dry Kill Logic, Nevermore, and Fear Factory all put on similarly punishing, thrash metal assaults. Each of these bands relies on the extreme/clean contrasting vocal approach, which shifts between satanic growls and semi-normal singing. Nevermore's Warrel Dane distinguishes himself from the pack with a soaring vocal range that often mimics fellow Seattle native Geoff Tate. These bands are all excellent at what they do, and these performances should not disappoint their fans.
I was looking forward to seeing Symphony X, as I had heard a lot of their music, but have never seen them live. Lead vocalist Russell Allen sang on Arjen Anthony Lucassen's excellent Star One – Live On Earth concert DVD, and I was blown away by his performance. He has one of the more powerful voices in progressive metal, and he really puts it on display here.
Like Dream Theater, Symphony X wisely picked a couple of their heaviest songs, in order to hold their own against much heavier acts like Fear Factory. "Inferno" kicks off their 2002 album, The Odyssey, and features some of Allen's most aggressive vocals. Band founder and resident guitar wizard, Michael Romeo, shows some serious Metallica influences on this song, which nicely compliments his blatant Yngwie Malmsteen inspired guitar technique. They close their set with "Of Sins And Shadows", the brutal opening track from their epic 1997 album, The Divine Wings of Tragedy.
Life Of Agony was one of the more pleasant surprises on the DVD for me. Their 1993 debut album, River Runs Red was a dark and heavy metal opus, which successfully infused just the right amount of the grunge style that so dominated the early 90's. In 1997 lead vocalist Keith Caputo quite the band, and by 1999 LOA had officially broken up. In 2003, the original lineup reunited for some shows and a live album, River Runs Again.