Last year Dave Mustaine sought to put together a package tour that was affordable for the fans and had a strong focus on heavy metal musicianship. He wasn't just putting together a tour of the most popular bands — he looked for bands that displayed first rate musicianship, and bands that he was a fan of. I think he succeeded.
I attended one of the shows in August of last year, it was one of the best shows I have yet attended. Besides featuring some of my favorite bands, it was just a great environment, five or six hours of pure metal bliss. This DVD brought me right back to that day. The first disk is nearly 90 minutes of music recorded at their stop in Montreal, Canada. In between each song are clips of interviews with the bands. You hear from Dave Mustaine about wanting to put this together, and other bands about how much fun they have had on the tour and how they came to be included.
The DVD puts together highlights from the show, featuring loud, in your face metal, swirling pits, and bands that are clearly putting their soul on the stage. Ninety minutes of metal thrashing madness.
First up is Bobaflex with "Better Than Me." The song shows why they are a name to keep an eye on. Raging energy on display, they put on a show, and makes me a bit upset that I missed them. They are followed by Dry Kill Logic, a band that continues to impress. I have seen them live a couple of times, and they keep getting better. They have two songs here, with "Lost" and "Paper Tiger" marrying old school thrash and new school hardcore.
The third band on the disk is one of those bands I was very much looking forward to seeing live, Nevermore. This band is a bright spot of the current metal scene, screaming leads, shredding riffs and a singer that has a singularly powerful and unique voice. They are represented by a pair of songs, "Born" and "Enemies of Reality."
Then there is Symphony X, a band I had heard of, and was anticipating live. They did not disappoint in their combination of technical precision and heaviness. They are in the Dream Theater school, although I think Symphony X is a bit more to the heavy end of the spectrum. Their performances of "Inferno" and "Of Sins and Shadows" were spectacular. I really need to seek out more music from them.
Next was a band that I remember appreciating years ago — but now, they don't really do much for me. Their representation here, like when I saw their set early on, is high energy, but I just don't care for the music. They have two songs here, "The Day He Died" and "Love to Let You Down."
At this point we move towards the headline acts. First up is one of my favorite heavy acts, Fear Factory. I have been a fan of them for many years, and their live performances never disappoint. This was the first time I had seen this lineup live. You see, their guitar player left, the bass player became the guitar player, and a new bass player joined the group. Here they play the title tracks from their then upcoming album and the last album, "Transgression" and "Archetype," respectively. They proceeded to tear up the stage with their brutally heavy, industrial flavored sound.
Now for the co-headliner, and prog masters Dream Theater. This is another band I have seen before, but it was entertaining to see them in a different setting. This heavier setting had the band focusing on their heavier material, as evidenced here by "Glass Prison" and "Panic Attack." Both of these performances were phenomenal, displaying their prowess with their instruments.
Finally, the final act of the day, and the master of ceremonies, Megadeth, closes out the concert. They are represented by three songs, "She Wolf," "A Tout Le Monde," and "Kick the Chair." This is not my favorite lineup for the band, but they still know how to put on a great show. They tore the stage up on these three sets, complete with flames.
This disk is a great companion to my memories of the show, but it is not without its flaws and omissions. First off, two bands are not represented. First is The Dillinger Escape Plan, admittedly not one that I care for, but they do not have any representation here. The other is Anthrax, who replaced Dream Theater for a week of shows. Both of these acts should have had at least one song included, but I guess you can't have everything. The other questionable matter is song selection and length. I am sure they could have, and probably should have, included some more music, since a disk can hold more than 90 minutes of material.
Also, the song selection could have been better. For example, I would have liked to see Fear Factory's "Cyberwaste" and Nevermore's "Poison Godmachine" or "This Godless Endeavor." For Dream Theater, They should have included "Pull Me Under" in addition to what is included, and Megadeth's "Holy Wars" or "Peace Sells." It is nice having these lesser represented tracks live, but I would have liked some more "classic" cuts.
Audio/Video. The audio is presented in three flavors, 5.1 DTS and Dolby Digital, and 2.0 Dolby Digital. It sounds good, all of the bands are represented well with good mixes, although I would have liked a bit more crowd noise. The video is in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. It looks very good, nothing to complain about.
But wait, there's more!
There is a second disk containing a near 50 minutes behind-the-scenes of the tour. This takes a look at all the aspects of the tour. Included are bits on the band's instrument techs, living on a bus, the use of pyro, moshing, and cover songs. The cover songs section includes a complete performance of Pantera's "Cemetery Gates" by Dream Theater with additional vocals from Burton C. Bell of Fear Factory and Russell Allen of Symphony X — plus Dave Mustaine shreds the final solo. This peek into the tour is excellent, showing the ups and downs and taking you into the bands' lives. Very nice addition to the concert disk.
Bottomline. Very good, if imperfect companion to the masterful metal tour. If you like metal, and/or you like any of these bands, you need to add this to your collection.