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.
In 2005, they released their first new studio album in eight years, Broken Valley, which provides the two songs on this DVD. Broken Valley is more melodic and accessible than its predecessors, and "Love To Let You Down" and "Day He Died" both feature plenty of memorable hooks. They reminded me a lot of fellow grunge-metal rockers Godsmack. This has many of their longtime fans crying foul, but I thoroughly enjoyed these two powerful performances.
Anybody who has perused my review website before will know that Dream Theater is one of my favorite bands. Still high off their brilliant new Score DVD, the two killer performances on this set were simply the icing on the cake for me. Dream Theater wisely chose two of their heaviest songs for this DVD, and also two songs that were not already featured on Score. This was an added bonus. "The Glass Prison" is the ferocious opening track from their epic, 2002, double album Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence, whose extended instrumental section proves that these guys can hold their own with the heaviest of bands. "Panic Attack" is the most intense track off their excellent new Octavarium album, and sounds more like a leftover from the much heavier Train Of Thought sessions.
As with the Score DVD, these performances show a band at the peak of their game, delivering some of the most consistently amazing performances of their career. I'd hate to be the band that has to follow Dream Theater on stage. Megadeth is that band, and they certainly have the goods to deliver. It's a shame to see Megadeth reduced to just Dave Mustaine and his touring band here though. That is not to say that Glen Drover (guitar), Shaun Drover (drums), and James MacDonough (bass) are not all excellent musicians who perform magnificently, but you don't exactly get the chemistry of the Ellefson/Friedman days. Mustaine himself seemed to be a little worn out and did not give the most inspiring performance I have ever seen.
That is not to say that this was not a great set. "She Wolf" is one of the better semi-thrash moments on 1997's commercially melodic Cryptic Writings album. It's a shame that Mustaine couldn't get original Megadeth guitarist Chris Poland to join the tour, seeing he played on the recent "The System Has Failed" album. Imagine him tearing into "Wake Up Dead" or "Peace Sells" when they take on some of the classic 80's stuff.
Youthanasia's "A Tout le Monde" features a catchy chorus and enough memorable hooks to make it one of the finest songs from their more commercial 90's output. What a uniquely awesome voice Mustaine has. This was an obvious choice to play in French speaking Montreal, and the band gave a killer performance. "Kick the Chair" is the bands latest shred-fest coming off their recent The System Has Failed album, which is supposed to be their heaviest since Rust In Peace. I haven't heard the album yet, but if this smoking tune is any indication, it is a good one. Megadeth's stage setup and light show looked awesome, and the massive flame pots that accompanied this song were a highlight.
The overall production quality of this DVD was outstanding. You get three audio options in the form of DTS 5.1 surround, Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, and Dolby Digital stereo. The two surround options were nearly equal, with the DTS sounding slightly more powerful. The mix varied somewhat between bands, and the guitars were sometimes buried in the mix too much for my taste. The widescreen video presentation looked extraordinary. The picture was clear, sharp, and presented the varying degrees of light show very well. The title of each song was displayed effectively along the bottom-right portion of the screen as each song began. The camera work was nearly flawless.
Only one bonus DVD is advertised, but I got two in my case. The DVDs come in a standard, plastic, two-disk case, which is enclosed by a simulated leather slip cover that has the same artwork as the DVD case. The third disk was just sitting inside the case in a standard paper sleeve. Hey, I'm not complaining. The contents of the "official" bonus disk include about 50 minutes worth of fascinating behind-the-scenes footage, interviews, and extra performances. The highlight was Dream Theater's performance of "Cemetery Gates", as a tribute to "Dimebag" Darrell. Russell Allen and Burton C. Bell helped out on the lead vocals and Mustaine added a screaming guitar solo. The "extra" bonus disk includes an additional 13-minutes worth of behind-the-scenes stuff.
My biggest complaint about this package is that the main disk only includes a measly 85 minutes worth of live performances. Only three songs from Megadeth and two from everyone else?! A single DVD can hold almost three hours worth of material, and they include THREE disks in the package. So what gives? It is probably a calculated ploy to make people want the 2006 tour DVD even more.
If you are a fan of heavy metal guitar shredding, then Gigantour is required viewing. In the simplified words of Dave Mustaine, "This is a tour for people who love the guitar solo." I'll second that.
01. Better Than Me – Bobaflex
02. Paper Tiger – Dry Kill Logic
03. Lost – Dry Kill Logic
04. Born – Nevermore
05. Enemies Of Reality – Nevermore
06. Inferno – Symphony X
07. Of Sins And Shadows Symphony X
08. Love To Let You Down – Life of Agony
09. Day He Died – Life of Agony
10. Transgression – Fear Factory
11. Archetype – Fear Factory
12. The Glass Prison – Dream Theater
13. Panic Attack – Dream Theater
14. She Wolf – Megadeth
15. A Tout Le Monde – Megadeth
16. Kick The Chair – Megadeth