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Big Four Live DVD Review

October 22, 2010




Well, this is a treat for thrash metal fans! Four titans of the genre – collectively known as, erm, The Big Four – surprised and excited most metal enthusiasts by teaming up for some live shows around Europe as part of the Metallica founded touring festival, Sonisphere. They did not play the UK or USA so fans will have to be contend with this DVD (though the concert was played at over 800 cinemas worldwide on the same day as the festival.) Metallica and Megadeth put their differences aside (well, they are getting on a bit) and Anthrax managed to encourage Joey Belladonna to rejoin the fold so predictably the tour was a massive success.

The fact is all four bands are fantastic at what they do. Onstage there are few bands that can compete with them and show such a bewildering amount of energy and charisma as they can. Recorded at the Vasil Levski National Stadium in Sofia, Bulgaria on 22nd June 2010, this DVD is five hours of metal headbanging fun! Anthrax kick off proceedings on the first DVD with an hour performance featuring some of the usual suspects: ‘Madhouse’, ‘Antisocial’ and ‘I Am The Law’, etc. They also played ‘Heaven And Hell’ as a tribute to the late great Ronnie James Dio. Personally, I prefer John Bush as a singer and performer but it’s great to see the band onstage giving such a fiery show. Megadeth kick off their hour performance in style with a tight version of ‘Holy Wars…The Punishment Due’. Mustaine has never been the best singer in the business but his fretboard work is incredible. ‘Symphony Of Destruction’ is perhaps the standout track. For me personally, Slayer is a band I’ve never had much attraction for and of the Big Four I’m less interested in them but they are good at what they do albeit in a far more extreme style. They blast through the likes of ‘Angel Of Death’, ‘Chemical Warfare’ and ‘Jihad’, and finish with ‘Reign In Blood’. The first DVD also includes an entertaining 45 minute documentary.

Metallica are an outstanding band live and manage to balance a great stage show with a tight and well rehearsed performance. Commencing with ‘Creeping Death’ from the classic album ‘Ride The Lightning’, they blitz through ‘For Whom The Bells Toll’, ‘Sad But True’, ‘Master Of Puppets’ and ‘Enter Sandman’. If that’s not enough, Dave Lombardo and all members of Anthrax and Megadeth joined Metallica onstage for a version of Diamond Head’s ‘Am I Evil?’ making it the first time Hetfield, Ulrich and Mustaine had shared a stage together since Mustaine was ousted from Metallica in 1983. It’s a great performance! There’s also a documentary with interviews and footage of them rehearsing ‘Am I Evil?’.

The standard two disc DVD is well worth the price tag but if you’re really keen there is also an immense deluxe box set with two DVDs, five DVDs, a colour booklet with a poster, some photos and a guitar pick. What a way to celebrate 30 years of thrash metal!

Copyright Neil Daniels © 2010

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