April 19, 2008

DVD Review: Gigantour 2

Back in 2005, Dave Mustaine set out to put together a package tour for the true metalhead. A tour that catered to fans of guitar driven heavy music, much like what Megadeth has been delivering since the early 1980's. The end result was a tour that included bands like Dream Theater, Fear Factory, Nevermore, Symphony X, and The Dillinger Escape Plan. It was a phenomenal tour that I was able to witness live and in person. In 2006, Mustaine put together a second edition, however, the line-up did not seem quite as potent and I Did not get the chance to witness the live show. All is not lost as a DVD highlighting all of the included bands is coming to store shelves everywhere, and will surely be the ideal way to catch up with what you missed or relive what you saw live nearly two years ago.

Now, when I said the line-up did not seem as potent, please do not interpret that as meaning I did not think it was a good one. There just happened to be a lot of bands on that initial go around that I love, whereas the 2006 version was not as enticing. Still, there were plenty of good bands here. This DVD features all of the bands on the US version of the tour (2006 also featured an Australian version of the package).

The DVD kicks off with The Smashup. I have to say that they seemed like an unlikely inclusion for a metal tour. Their sound would seem to be more at home on Warped Tour or Taste of Chaos. Be that as it may, they were here, and are represented by one of their better cuts, "Effigy." I remember listening to their debut album (Being & Becoming) and quite liking it. The energy on the disk translates well to the live show; however, while their musical performance here is quite strong, their stage presence seemed a little lacking. I am sure that had I been there my reaction would be different with a full set. They are definitely an odd fit, but the music is good, and the exposure to a different crowd cannot hurt.

Next up is Sanctity with "Beneath the Machine." I cannot say that I have ever heard of them before, but after their one song here, I am interested in hearing more. This is first rate American metal. It is heavy, driving, catchy, and just makes you want to bang your head (one of the goals of Gigantour). These guys don't have a lot of movement on the stage, but there is an undeniable intensity to their presence. Hopefully the exposure gained on this tour will get them some momentum. I am just sad that two years following the tour I am just now hearing of them.

Into Eternity comes in third with "Severe Emotional Distress." This Canadian metalcore act is making waves in the States, recently releasing their second full length album with Killswitch Engage's Adam D at the helm. This is an intense band that really put it all out there, and the performance here captures the musical intensity that they possess. It is fast, melodic, in your face, and just flat out rocks. There is no denying their ability as it is put on display here.

Now comes the second stage headliner, bringing some credibility to all of the youngsters that have come before. Thrash legends Overkill were on hand to show what it was like from back in the early days. These guys are not kids anymore, but don't hold that against them, they still know how to throw down and not back down. I may not be their biggest fan, but they are as heavy and relevant as ever. They are represented by two songs here, "Necroshine" and "Rotten to the Core." You really can't pick two better songs than that, both are rocking songs that are sure to get the pit churning with metal-driven fury.

Moving to the main stage, we start with Arch Enemy. This is a band that I have only recently been introduced to, but am quite impressed by the little bitI have heard. This brief two song sample is also quite enticing, their live presence is dynamic, their performance is strong, and impressive overall. Their sampling here begins with "We Will Rise" from Anthems of Rebellion, and is one of many songs that I have never heard before, I like it. We close out with "Nemesis" from the album I was introduced to them with, Doomsday Machine (I know it is not the most liked, but I like it). It kicks off after an awkward transition from the prior cut, not the band's fault. I think I like this song better, if for nothing else than I was already familiar with it.

Next is Opeth, a band that is more and more impressive the more and more I hear from them (which at this point is precious little). They have one song on the DVD but it is a good one. It comes from the classic Blackwater Park and is called "The Leper Affinity." Opeth is not a thrash band, but fit in with Mustaine's desire to bring a variety of metal to the masses. If there is one word to describe Opeth's music, it would have to be epic. They cover so much ground and never become repetitious. It is heavy, atmospheric, technical, and all in between. Their style sticks out like a sore thumb in between the more metal style of the other main stage acts, but that is not a bad thing, it just allows their uniqueness to stand out.

The final opening act is Lamb of God, one of the more prominent members of the New Wave of American Metal (or whatever you want to call it). These guys are heavy, raw, and talented. Their two songs here exude intensity. Their is nothing subtle about them as they rip through "Vile" and "Now You've Got Something to Die For." This is another band, much like Arch Enemy, that I like but have not listened to a lot of. When Lamb of God takes the stage, it would be best if you stepped back before getting hurt, as they are sure to stir up a little bit of the violence. One thing I noticed on the DVD during their set, they are being censored. Randy Blythe's banter is laced with F-bombs which are curiously silent. Considering the audience for this DVD, that is very lame.

Now, the legendary Megadeth takes their place on the stage and closes out this DVD compilation with three songs of pure Megadeth goodness. First up is one of their best cuts from deep in their catalog, "Take No Prisoners." That song is pure 'deth and the performance is enough to get the adrenaline flowing in your veins. The nect song moves into more recent memory, The System Has Failed's "The Scorpion." I have to admit that I was not expecting this song, it does not seem to be an obvious choice for a compilation. Never mind, it is a strong song and one that is a little different from the majority of the Megadeth library. The DVD comes to an end with a cut from their most recent album, an album that proves their continued relevance and abilities. The song is "Washington is Next" from United Abominations. This cut gets right to the point, featuring a focused and angry Mustaine who is pulling no punches. It is a powerful way to end the disk. As for their performance? It is excellent, although I would have liked a couple of more songs. Mustaine has a unique stage presence and charisma that does not involve much motion, an interesting experience.

Audio/Video. The disk I received is a promo copy and may not be indicative of the final production disk, but the tech specs are quite good. The video is anamorphic widescreen, and the quality is quite good. The video is clear and free of any digital issues, it may not be up to par with a Hollywood blockbuster release, but for a concert disk, it is just fine. The audio mix is a strong 2.0 and does a fine job of delivering the live music experience, with a mix that allows all of the bands to shine through.

Bottomline. If you like metal, are curious about the tour, or attended one of the shows, this disk is for you. It is well shot and well recorded and proved the lineup to be considerably stronger than I initially expected. Still, the release is not perfect. I would have loved some more concert footage, or bonus interviews/behind the scenes material. All that is here are the performances.


Track Listing:
01. THE SMASHUP - Effigy
02. SANCTITY - Beneath the Machine
03. INTO ETERNITY - Severe Emotional Distress
04. OVERKILL - Necroshine
05. OVERKILL - Rotten to the Core
06. ARCH ENEMY - We Will Rise
07. ARCH ENEMY - Nemesis
08. OPETH - The Leper Affinity
09. 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


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