September 1, 2010

DVD Review: Megadeth - Rust in Peace Live

A sea of excited metal heads chants "Me-Ga-Deth!" over and over. A lone figure carrying a custom made Flying V guitar walks to the center of the stage and raises his arms triumphantly over his head. The crowd in turn raises theirs in agreement, cheering ever louder. The figure then asks: "You know why we're here, right?" Of course they know, answering with still louder cheers. Then the iconic opening riff brings the rest of the band to the stage and the show begins.

What makes this live recording so special is that it is a live recording of their classic album Rust in Peace in its entirety. Front to back and start to finish. It is an amazing experience and one that I wish I had been able to attend live. There is something about this album that has stood the test of time and is an undoubted metal classic. It is hard to believe that it has been twenty-years since it was unleashed upon us.

My love affair with Megadeth could be said to have begun with this 1990 album. At the time my music love was still fairly young and I had not yet really dived into the heavy metal world. My best friend at the time was into the heavier stuff so I had some exposure to it. Megadeth was a band that had a bunch of songs that I liked but the albums never really won me over. I remember loving songs like "Wake Up Dead," "Peace Sells," and "In My Darkest Hour." Then Rust in Peace came out and nothing would ever be the same.

This record has the riffs, the aggression, the energy, and is just flat out amazing. This also brought us what is, at least in my mind, the definitive line up. Megadeth has always had a revolving cast of characters around Dave Mustaine, but this line up of David Ellefson on bass, Marty Friedman on guitar, and Nick Menza on drums was hands down the best they ever had.

Unfortunately this show did not feature that particular lineup, but Mustaine still has a strong supporting cast. Joining frontman Mustaine is returning bassist David Ellefson, drummer Shawn Drover (member since 2004), and recent addition guitarist Chris Broderick (ex-Jag Panzer, Nevermore). While Friedman/Menza will always be Megadeth to me, these guys are nothing to sneeze at, they play the material with the heart, energy, and skill one would expect. They perform it as it were written by them.

They don't have the flashiest of stage shows, but they don't need it with songs like these. The backdrop is Vic Rattlehead in his pose from the original album cover, the kick drums adorned with radioactive symbols, which were synonymous with the release, with the band taking up their spots at the front of the stage. For forty-six minutes this quartet tear through classics like "Hanger 18" and songs I had never heard live before like "Lucretia," "Five Magics," and "Dawn Patrol." It is simply amazing. No, not the best live DVD I have seen, but there is still something very special about it.

Rust in Peace is an album that has stood the test of time for two decades and will surely last for decades to come.  This live album is a testament to the greatness of the album, the amazing songs, incredible musicianship, and again shows just why the album is so revered.

Now, aside from the greatness of the album, it is pretty cool to see a live album that plays one album from start to finish. Sometimes it feels like the art of the album is disappearing, the placement of songs on said album, the way they relate to each, and the flow of an album is disappearing in a singles mentality, especially fostered by the likes of iTunes and other music buying outlets where songs can be bought individually. Rust in Peace has a wonderful flow and pace that this live recording preserves. Another band that did this was Slayer with 2004's Still Reigning which say them tear through the classic Reign in Blood album.

In addition to the rendition of Rust in Peace, Megadeth play a few more of their classics. These bonus cuts include "In My Darkest Hour," "Trust," "Symphony of Destruction," and "Peace Sells." They just make an already excellent release even better. I just wish we had an option to watch them as one show with the main part of the program.

Audio/Video. The video is presented in 1.85:1 widescreen and looks pretty good. It has fine definition and clarity, good color and nothing is lost in the darkness. The film has a sedate editing style that gives us a good look at all the players, yet is dynamic enough to keep up with the energy of the show.

Audio comes in three varieties: Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1, and Dolby 2.0. They all sound quite good with the surround options giving good separation and immersion, as if you are actually there. Likewise, the stereo option is ideal when watching on a laptop and listening through headphones.

Extras. The DVD lists the non-Rust in Peace tracks as bonus material, although they were part of the live show. There is also a brief 8-minute behind the scenes video that takes us inside the Palladium theater in Los Angeles where the show was recorded. Clips from the crowd outside to behind the scenes talking about photo shoots and wet Blackberries, to sound check footage. Again, not a lot, but a little is something. It also seems to show a different Mustaine. I had always heard he could be a bit of a jerk, but he seemed to be rather friendly and approachable.

Other Formats. This concert is also being released on Blu-ray disk, which I am sure will be amazing. I also have the show on CD. Now, I have always preferred my live shows to be on DVD or other video format as seeing the performance is just as important as hearing it. However, the CD does sound excellent and allows me to take it on the road with me! Options are great.

Bottomline. If you are a Megadeth fan, you owe it to yourself to pick this up in your preferred format. Megadeth is one of those bands that will forever be synonymous with the metal genre, and Rust in Peace will always be considered one of the classic releases. Let's celebrate its excellence together.

Highly Recommended.

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Article first published as DVD Review: Megadeth - Rust in Peace Live on Blogcritics.


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