Heavy Metal

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Heavy metal (often referred to simply as metal) is a genre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the United Kingdom and the United States. With roots in blues-rock and psychedelic rock, the bands that created heavy metal developed a thick, massive sound, characterized by highly amplified distortion, extended guitar solos, emphatic beats, and overall loudness. Heavy metal lyrics and performance styles are generally associated with masculinity and machismo.

The first heavy metal bands (Proto) such as Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple attracted large audiences, though they were often critically reviled, a status common throughout the history of the genre. In the mid-1970s Judas Priest helped spur the genre’s evolution by discarding much of its blues influence; Motörhead introduced a punk rock sensibility and an increasing emphasis on speed. Bands in the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWoBHM) such as Iron Maiden followed in a similar vein. Before the end of the decade, heavy metal had attracted a worldwide following of fans known as “metalheads” or “headbangers”.

Visit the NWoBHM sub-genre page for more details on this particular music movement.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traditional_Heavy_Metal

Inclusive Traditional Heavy Metal Genres

Melodic Metal is often short for Melodic Heavy Metal and as such is usually included under Traditional Heavy Metal on the MMA. On rare occasions Melodic Metal releases may also be included under Power Metal however, such as Arven's Black is the Colour (2013).

Sub-genre collaborators (+ child sub-genres & shared with Hard Rock and Glam Metal):
  • 666sharon666 (Leader)

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heavy metal Music Reviews

IRON MAIDEN Senjutsu

Album · 2021 · Heavy Metal
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adg211288
Senjutsu (2021) is the seventeenth full-length studio album by UK NWoBHM legends Iron Maiden. The album marks a close to what has been their longest gap between studio albums to date, the last being The Book of Souls (2015). The same line-up that has been present since Brave New World (2000) still remains: Bruce Dickinson (vocals), Steve Harris (bass), Dave Murray, Adrian Smith and Janick Gers (guitars) and Nicko McBrain (drums). Like The Book of Souls before it, Senjutsu is a double album. Similar design in cover artwork would also suggest an intentional relationship between the two, with mascot Eddie evolving from a tribal incarnation to one inspired by Japanese Samurai.

The music on Senjutsu is unmistakeably that of Iron Maiden in their modern day incarnation. Perhaps a little less overtly influenced by progressive rock/metal even in the album's longer songs like the trio of ten plus minute closers, Death of the Celts, The Parchment and Hell on Earth, but the progressive subtleties are there for those prepared to listen for them. Subtle is a good word to describe the entire album. It's not in your face. It's more of a slow burn than the band's most well known back catalogue, even when you compare the lead single The Writing on the Wall to its counterpart from The Book of Souls, Speed of Light. Iron Maiden have opted to avoid their more faster paced material on the album as well.

While in all Senjutsu actually sounds like a rather unique entry in the Iron Maiden discography, there are certainly hints present in the release that conjure up recollections of past Iron Maiden albums. Personally I hear moments that could easily have been part of A Matter of Life and Death (2006), The Final Frontier (2010) and even Virtual XI (1998), the latter most obvious in the aforementioned Death of the Celts, which could easily be a companion song to The Clansman.

One thing that Senjutsu does extremely well is how well the material flows together. Iron Maiden are not typically one of those bands that can be called 'album artists', as no matter how good the albums taken as a whole are, there are always songs that stand out individually, be they the singles chosen to promote it, or otherwise. I feel like it would be saying something negative about Senjutsu to suggest that it is otherwise here, but this definitely comes across as more of a work that functions best when considered as a whole. Greater than the sum of its parts, if you like.

The band's instrumental performance is on point and Dickinson is also on fine form. As always, the production values of Kevin Shirley may leave something to be desired compared to those of the late Martin Birch, but the production of the album is consistent with that of other post-Birch Iron Maiden, to the point that I would not even think to mention the production in this review if I didn't keep seeing grumblings about it since Senjutsu was released. I don't get that. Senjutsu sounds exactly like I'd expect an Iron Maiden album to sound like in 2021.

While it is perhaps clear that Senjutsu won't become the favourite Iron Maiden album of either myself or many others, at this point in their career, seventeen albums in and over forty years since the release of their debut Iron Maiden (1980), I don't need it to be. I need it to be another great album that proves that the lads have still got it. And guess what?

They have.

STRYPER Even the Devil Believes

Album · 2020 · Heavy Metal
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Kev Rowland
I’m not really sure what is left to say about Stryper, who have remained true to their goals for most of their career. Back in 1983, when they were known as Roxx Regime, they released a six-track demo, and three of the four participants are still there today, namely Michael Sweet (vocals, guitar), Robert Sweet (drums) and Oz Fox (guitar, vocals). There was a point recently when the band went on hiatus due to the other founder, Tim Gaines, having some personal issues and at that time Michael said the band would not perform as Stryper without him. Obviously there has been a rethink, as he has now been replaced by ex-Firehouse bassist Perry Richardson.

I first came across Stryper not long after the first two albums, ‘The Yellow and Black Attack’ and ‘Solders Under Command’, and even managed to get their 1985 video ‘Live In Japan’ when it was released, but by the time of their third album, ‘To Hell With The Devil’ I felt they were incredibly formulaic and that view has not really changed in the intervening years. Christian preaching lyrics? Check. Hard rock which is melodic but never likely to frighten the faithful? Check. Loads of harmony vocals? Check. Songs which are fairly enjoyable while they are playing but instantly forgettable as soon as they are over? Check and check.

Stryper’s formula has been successful enough over the years for them to reform a few times and keep it going, and there is no doubt that within the mainstream they are the most visible Christian rock band out there. Undoubtedly this will appeal to those who feel that Christians should not listen to any type of secular music, and may even get a few non-believers intrigued, but there is little to really distinguish this from any of their other recent albums. Pleasant enough to listen to, but nothing here to drag me back into playing it again.

NINGEN ISU Kuraku

Album · 2021 · Heavy Metal
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voila_la_scorie
It's been two years and two months since the release of "Shin Seinen", the album that included the song "Mujou no Scat - Heartless Scat" whose promotion on YouTube made heavy music fans around the world go, "Wow! Who are these guys?!" The band had maintained a small following for over two decades before an appearance at Ozz Fest in Japan in 2013 gave them exposure to an international audience. For the next few years, Ningen Isu concentrated on making each of their heavy metal (think 70's inspired traditional doom/stoner metal with a flare for getting a bit thrashy or speedy at times) albums attractive to the foreign market but always maintaining their unique sound and approach to heavy music: they are very much a Japanese band playing western heavy metal. But their 21st album released in 2019 took them to a whole new level of international popularity. This resulted in their first ever trip overseas where they played two shows in Germany and one in England. They were scheduled to appear at the SXSW Festival in Texas in March of 2020, but COVID-19 shut that down.

"Kuraku" ("Suffering and Joy", or "Pain and Comfort" if you believe the Wikipedia translation of the title) is the band's 22nd album and the first new release since their overseas episodes of February, 2020. Fans of the band's last few albums will find that Ningen Isu are ploughing along in the same style. There have been no efforts to adjust their sound for any imagined possibility of broadening their audience, and this is what new fans to the band probably hoped for and expected. (Fans of the band's entire catalogue know that the band has explored different directions but always maintained a heavy base).

The album is 13 tracks and 71 minutes of Ningen Isu-styled heavy metal with lyrical themes such as space pirates ("Uchuu Kaizoku), ghosts ("Nikutai no Bourei"), kings of darkness ("Ankoku Ou"), motorcycles ("Hashire GT"), and robots ("Ningen Robot"). If I understood correctly, the album's concept was based around the vision of the future held by Japanese a hundred years ago. They believed in a utopian society free of hardship and strife. However, Ningen Isu are saying what we may have achieved is the opposite. The album title comes from a 1920's periodical of the same name, which was a magazine that published stories by Edogawa Ranpo, whose story "Ningen Isu - The Human Chair" was where the band took its name.

The opening track begins with an unusual sound for Ningen Isu, a strummed electric guitar that some may think inspired by Led Zeppelin but I hear as being similar to The Tea Party, though I am sure Ningen Isu has never heard of that Canadian band. The music soon changes into a typical Ningen Isu heavy rocker and plays out long enough for some change ups to happen in the music. The song title, "Toshishun" is from the title of a short story written by a famous Japanese author, Akutagawa Ryunosuke, who wrote many famous stories from 1914 until his death by suicide in 1927. This song, written and sung by Shinji Wajima, exemplifies Ningen Isu's ability to write heavy tracks with a slight progressive edge.

Though every track on the album is heavy (Ningen Isu don't do power ballads and have rarely touched acoustic only numbers), there are a few worth mentioning for their outstanding or unusual points. "Uchuu Kaizoku" has a guitar effects intro and features a Theremin in the solo section. Shinji Wajima has used a Theremin on several songs in the past, always space-themed ones. "Seikimatsu Jinta (End of the Century Jinta)" has a really groovy riff that sounds like it was pulled straight out of 1976. Wajima plays a bit of Taishogoto - a Japanese instrument based on the koto - on the tracks "Seikimatsu Jinta" and "Nayami wo Tsukinekete, Kanki wo Idare (Overcome Your Worries and Be Joyous)". "Koukotsu no Tourou (Ecstatic Mantis)" is the shortest track and one of Ken'ichi Suzuki's short but speedy and aggressive tracks. "Shijou no Kuchibiru" features drummer Nobu Nakajima on lead vocals. And the closing track, "Yoake Mae (Before the Dawn)" is one of those longer, dark and heavy tracks that Ningen Isu like to do.

The album is what you'd expect from Ningen Isu: heavy stoner, doom, and trad metal riffs, and a good mix of themes and approaches, plus a their unique sound cultivated over three decades. What the album doesn't include are any experiments with new sounds or directions or revisiting any of the one-track diversions of the past. I personally like a surprise or two on an album, and among my favourites are the albums where the band dropped in either something very progressive or something inspired by traditional Japanese music. "Kuraku" is a solid, heavy banger from start to finish.

So, once again, fans who love the last few albums will be just as thrilled to hear this one. Ningen Isu are veterans of what they play and don't make any mistakes. They know who they are and how they should sound. Once again, they have achieved that flawlessly.

WOLF The Black Flame

Album · 2006 · Heavy Metal
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Necrotica
You have to wonder just where heavy metal would stand if the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) hadn't taken place. Many legendary bands had come out of this explosion of music, such as Angel Witch, Diamond Head, and even Def Leppard! However, not many can argue that the most important of all of them was the mega-hit group Iron Maiden. The band proved to be an instant hit with heavy metal and hard rock fans, with their debut release containing classics such as "Phantom of the Opera" and "Remember Tomorrow" among others. The band's early work influenced a huge legion of other metal bands in a similar vein to the world-popular British group, including Wolf.

Wolf, hailing from Orebro, Sweden, have elevated their classic metal style to the high quality that previous records had only hinted at. While many NWOBHM imitators/modernizers have been exceedingly stale due to running short on imagination with the material, Wolf have added in a few new tricks of their own. The first thing you'll notice is how damn heavy the whole affair is. Especially in songs like "At the Graveyard," Wolf meld a knack for heavy bass lines with a catchy melodic side, something that many modern metal artists have a hard time accomplishing these days.

As I said, just considering the band a heavier Iron Maiden wouldn't exactly do the band much justice, considering the honest uniqueness they can bring out as well. While the band doesn't really bring the freshest ideas to the table, it's clear that they know the genres they play in VERY well. In the album, you'll hear hints of Iron Maiden, Metallica, Helloween, Judas Priest, and occasionally Slayer (mainly on the speed metal end of things). Even when Wolf take these influences, they add their own little touch, especially in the lyrical department. Many of the lyrics convey psychological terror, nightmares, and all-out darkness. There are some fantasy elements akin to Iron Maiden, but Wolf usually manage to add a darker sound and message.

All the members of the band play out their strengths extremely well. Niklas Stalvind and Johannes Losback churn out their guitar harmonies with frightening speed and precision, while Stalvind is able to keep quite a good arsenal of vocal techniques to keep everything fresh on the frontlines. The bass isn't always heard a great deal, but when it is, it is H-E-A-V-Y! In the track "At the Graveyard," the ending of the song contains a section of pure brutal distortion while the vocal harmonies are layered over the sound, and it works very effectively. The drums are of the typical speed metal variety, but there are some nice fills scattered about to heighten the listener's level of interest.

While there are a lot of highlights on the album, I'd have to give a nod to "The Bite," Seize the Night," and "Steelwinged Savage Reaper." "The Bite" starts off with a typical-yet-no-frills riff that speeds through rather quickly, but the highlight is with the 6/8 interlude in the middle. The vocals here are especially dramatic and emotional, speaking of how the days simply go by and how our protagonist continually waits for the night to come. "Seize the Night" (maybe a play on Carpe Diem?) has a rather explosive chorus that contains that mixture of low-end power and melody I mentioned, as well as one of the catchiest choruses on the whole record. "Steelwinged Savage Reaper" is more in the speed metal vein, and has slight elements of what a cross between Slayer and Iron Maiden might sound like. The whole song blazes right through your stereo, with dark-yet-fun lyrics about Death and... well... the Grim Reaper being fast on your tail, I guess.

What about the flaws? I guess the biggest flaw is that the songs can really run together after a while; thus by the time the seventh track, "The Dead" comes on, you feel a little bit tired of the experience. Some of the songs feel like overly familiar rehashes of better tracks on the album. For instance, "Demon" simply sounds like a more-harmonized (if that makes sense) version of "I Will Kill Again," but the latter makes much more of a lasting impression. Additionally, some of the tracks get a tad lazy with the instrumentation. Album closer "Children of the Black Flame" simply plods along as if it has no real purpose, and the track rehashes the guitar work of previous songs, but in a slower way, and it simply gets a bit boring.

Either way, the album is a great salute to the old bands of 80's metal, and it goes to show that this old era of metal may not be in the coffin just yet. Get this as soon as you can.

IRON MAIDEN Nights of the Dead, Legacy of the Beast: Live in Mexico City

Live album · 2020 · Heavy Metal
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UMUR
"Nights of the Dead, Legacy of the Beast: Live in Mexico City" is a live double album release by UK heavy metal act Iron Maiden. The album was released through Parlophone Records in November 2020. The material featured on the album was recorded on 27th, 29th and 30th of September 2019 in Mexico City, during the Legacy of the Beast World Tour. The tour wasn´t in support of a particular album, as the band had wrapped up The Book of Souls World Tour in 2017, but rather in support of, or maybe more correctly accompanying the "Iron Maiden: Legacy of the Beast" mobile game. This meant that the band played quite a few legacy tracks on the tour and even revived a couple of older tracks they hadn´t played in years.

So while it´s no surprise to see that the tracklist includes tracks like "Aces High", "2 Minutes to Midnight", and "Hallowed Be Thy Name", it´s a bit more surprising to see tracks like "Where Eagles Dare" and "Flight of Icarus" included. The latter hadn´t been played by Iron Maiden since the tour supporting "Somewhere in Time (1986)". What´s even more suprising to me is the inclusion of the two Blaze Bayley-era tracks "Sign of the Cross" and "The Clansman". The last surprise on the tracklist is "For the Greater Good of God" from "A Matter of Life and Death (2006)". It´s not as such a surprise that the track is included, but it´s just the first recorded live version to be released of the song. So it´s a well balanced tracklist with both great legacy tracks, and a few more deep cuts to spice things up, and the combination works great on "Nights of the Dead, Legacy of the Beast: Live in Mexico City".

The sound production is not surprisingly of a high quality featuring a powerful and organic sound, and audience responses/noises when that is called for. While this is certainly a hi-fi quality live production, you´re never in doubt that it´s a live release, and that´s how the best live productions usually work. The band are in fine form too and deliver the music with great skill and conviction. I think Bruce Dickinson struggles slightly on the faster-paced tracks, but other than that slight issue his performance here is as commanding as ever. It´s quite frankly amazing how he is able to control his voice and sing the high notes without sounding strained.

Some of the highlights of the album (other than the legacy tracks, which we´ve all heard a thousand times before on preceding live albums), are "Sign of the Cross" and "The Clansman". I realise Iron Maiden have released live versions of the two songs featuring Dickinson on some of the preceding live albums, but every time I hear those songs with him on vocals, I´m in awe of how great those tracks actually are, with a more unique vocalist performing them. Upon conclusion "Nights of the Dead, Legacy of the Beast: Live in Mexico City" is yet another high quality live album release by Iron Maiden to help make the waiting time before the band release a new studio album more bearable for the fans. It´s not the most necessary release in their discography, but it´s greatly entertaining and high quality release through and through. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

heavy metal movie reviews

FOZZY Unleashed, Uncensored, Unknown

Movie · 2003 · Heavy Metal
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martindavey87
I’m totally unashamed about my love for this band and this DVD! Released in Fozzy’s early days when they were playing mostly covers, this is complete rock ‘n’ roll nonsense documenting how Fozzy created heavy metal and then signed a dodgy contract that left them stranded in Japan for twenty years!

The main documentary is hilarious. You can tell everyone is just having a blast filming it, and the added cameos from the likes of Zakk Wylde, Sebastian Bach and Mike Portnoy just add to this. And at barely a half an hour in duration, this main feature has plenty of replay value.

There’s an abundance of extras too, including more daft early Fozzy shenanigans as well as sincere and out-of-character footage too, showing that even in their early days this band possessed unlimited potential, but then, what would you expect when rap metal pioneers Stuck Mojo joined forces with wrestling icon Chris Jericho?

ACCEPT Restless & Live

Movie · 2017 · Heavy Metal
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Kingcrimsonprog
Restless & Live is a concert release from the veteran German Heavy Metal legends Accept. It was released on Nuclear Blast Records in 2017 on several formats; such as a CD set with tracks taken from different concerts across the touring cycle for Blind Rage (their third studio album since being reinvigorated by the joining of new singer Mark Tornillo). It was also released as a Blu Ray of a single entire performance at 2015’s Bang Your Head Festival. If you’ve got a bit more money to splash out you can get a set with the Blu Ray and CD versions, or if you prefer DVDs that’s also an option.

My personal preference for concert movies or albums is that they come from on single concert not a mix of shows, and if available preferably on Blu Ray, so for me this was the version I went for and am most happy with. (which this review will be focusing on).

In terms of specs: The Blu Ray version is in 1080p with PCM Stereo and DTS HD Master 5.1 options, Region:All. There aren’t any bonus features. There’s a booklet with some photos but no linear notes.

So the main reason you are buying this disc is for the concert; which is about an hour and forty-five minutes of blistering classic Heavy Metal. The 18-song tracklisting is pretty heavily focused on the three Tornillo-era albums, with a few of the classic ’80s crowdpleasing tunes added in as well. So if you’ve already got the DVD that came with Blind Rage its still worth checking this out for the different tracklisting and higher production values. (The CD version of Restless & Wild contains 27 songs and more of a mix of material).

The tracklisting is: 1. Stampede 2. Stalingrad 3. London Leatherboys 4. Restless & Wild 5. Dying Breed 6. Final Journey 7. Shadow Soldiers 8. Losers & Winners 9. 200 Years 10. Midnite Mover 11. No Shelter 12. Princess Of The Dawn 14. Pandemic 15. Fast As A Shark 16. Metal Heart 17. Teutonic Terror 18. Balls To The Wall

The performance is tight and professional but still has that ‘live’ feeling and energy, it isn’t all sterile but it isn’t loose and sloppy either, its just right. They all give it gusto and look pretty into it. There’s no complaints on vocals, musicianship or song selection for me. Wolf Hoffman’s guitar solos are as entertaining as you would expect and there’s a fun bass versus guitar trade off section at one point. The camera work, editing, sound and mix are all solid. Nothing jarring or out of place, no sync issues, all instruments audible and in correct balance. The songs sound clear and yet muscular.

Its a pretty simple and honest affair. There’s no gimmicks here; no big show with giant robot crabs on stage or band members catching fire or shooting lazers out of their eyes, and there’s no life changing documentary, no animations weaved into the concert or anything… but if you want to buy an Accept live concert and watch songs like ‘Fast As A Shark’ and ‘Balls To The Wall’ played well by the new line-up and competently captured and prepared for home viewing then it is an absolutely fine product and I highly recommend it to fans of the band, especially to fans of the newer three albums. For me, watching songs like ‘No Shelter,’ ‘Stalingrad’ and ‘Pandemic’ belted out enthusiastically are worth the money.

If you are new to the band, this is a very strong starting place, (if not entirely representative of the overall discography) and if you are a fan already its a worthy addition to your collection.

IRON MAIDEN Live After Death

Movie · 1985 · NWoBHM
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siLLy puPPy
Universally cited as one of the absolute best live albums of all time, LIVE AFTER DEATH is the first live album / video release of IRON MAIDEN’s classic early Bruce Dickinson years and was recorded during their “World Slavery Tour.” Despite lasting a whopping 331 days, this double LP album only took two venues as their source for representing their electric live performances. The first 13 tracks were recorded at the Long Beach Arena in California, USA and the remaining five tracks were taken from a night at Hammersmith Odeon in London. While LIVE AFTER DEATH was released both as audio LP and video VHS in 1985, the two aren’t exactly identical in content. The audio LP originally contained 18 tracks (one of which is “Intro: Churchill’s Speech”) but the VHS visual experience only had 14 tracks. Unfortunately when LIVE AFTER DEATH was originally released on CD it was too long for a single disc and instead of simply issuing a double disc, EMI unwisely decided to cut the last five tracks which included the Odeon performance, therefore it is highly advisable to obtain the Sanctuary remastered version which was released as a double disc and retains the entire run of one classic song after another.

LIVE AFTER DEATH is the absolute perfect live album. I very rarely put live albums high on my list of favorites because more often than not something or many things prevent them from capturing my attention and worthiness as essential. If it’s not the weak production values then it is the inability of the band to capture the magic that is manufactured in the studio. That is not the case here. IRON MAIDEN was at the pinnacle of their creative prowess at this point and after several outstanding and classic albums to mine for material, they perfectly execute these live performances and offer every little ounce of excitement heard on the studio releases. Bruce Dickinson nails the vocals and the thundering trio of Steve Harris’ bass and the guitar synergy of Dave Murray and Adrian Smith accompanied by Nikko McBrain’s stellar drumming style doesn’t get any better. While most of the tracks are performed rather faithfully to their studio versions, there is plenty of live improvisation taking places as well. Standout moments include Bruce’s attempt to get audience participation on “Running Free” and another great difference can be heard on “Revelations” where the tempo is upped and Bruce changes the vocal phrasing to make the track sound different and refreshed.

The video release offers all the theatrical visuals of the tour. The “Powerslave” album was based on ancient Egypt and likewise the stage was Egyptified to the max with sarcophagi, hieroglyphs and a mummified Eddie embellished with ridiculous amounts of pyrotechnics. The tour was a smashing success and this release whether it be audio or video is the perfect testimony to the genius that went into every single detail. The sound and mixing is perfect as well as Martin Birch found the perfect balance of every cast member and delivered one of the most satisfying production jobs for a live release that i have ever heard. In the visual department Jim Yukich perfectly captured two nights in Long Beach showing a great band doing great things at the peak of their game. Another piece of perfection with this one is the brilliant cover art of Derek Riggs surpassing previous album themes of Eddie as the mascot by incorporating those themes of previous albums covers and then putting it all on steroids. The spread of the album is breathtaking in content and color with the boldness of the yellows and blues. Every aspect of talent on board with this release guarantees to wake the dead. I cannot find one negative thing to say about it. It is true that Bruce doesn’t hit every note exactly as on the studio version every single time but when he doesn’t he offers interesting new ways of interpreting the classics. This is simply one of the most perfect live releases i have ever encountered and even MAIDEN themselves haven’t even come close to achieving similar results. Masterpiece.

OZZY OSBOURNE God Bless Ozzy Osbourne

Movie · 2011 · Heavy Metal
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progshine
It is an interesting documentary that tries to focus on his personal life. But it stays in the middle of the road in the end.

You have this big and interesting chunk talking about Sabbath then when it comes to his solo career they talk about 2 albums and... that's it.

Look, if you're doing a documentary or you focus on the music or in the person, every documentary that tries to do both end up staying in the middle of the fail road.

This is interesting, it gives you an idea how Ozzy was really in bad shape for so many years and how he turned things around, but it's far away from being a great and complete documentary.

BLACK LABEL SOCIETY The European Invasion: Doom Troopin' Live

Movie · 2006 · Heavy Metal
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Kingcrimsonprog
Doom Troopin’ Live: The European Invasion is a live concert video from Black Label Society, available on Blu-Ray. It documents the European leg of their touring in support of ‘Mafia.’

The setlist is fairly heavily comprised of material from the ‘Mafia’ and ‘The Blessed Hellride’ albums, with little from the first three records, which may be disappointing if its your only BLS video purchase, but which does result in little crossover with their other DVD ‘Boozed Broozed & Broken Boned.’ A similar idea to Kiss’ Alive II perhaps.

There are 16 tracks in the main Paris concert according to the back of the box but three of those are jamming. They tease the crowd with a bit of ‘Iron Man’ and ‘Mama I’m Coming Home’ for example. Plenty of the time between songs is given over for additional guitar soloing as well.

It’s a decent mix of fast and slow, its mostly heavy but there’s a bit of light in there and it gives a lot of time over to Zack’s guitar talents, without wasting too much time away from actual songs. I think a good balance has been struck of all of Black Label’s constituent parts.

The performance is fairly strong, noticeably so on the ballads. Zack has a good stage presence pumping fists, pointing and striking poses, although some of the spoken crowd interaction is very mumbled and hard to make out. A lot of the songs feel a lot faster, louder and heavier live than they did on record, and feel crunchier and more earthy sounding. The drumming in particular is a lot more impressive live; Craig Nunemacher has a lot of character I hadn’t noticed before seeing this.

I think the sound is very good. Its well mixed, fairly heavy and the songs have bite. It feels ‘live enough’ but it isn’t sloppy. Again, a good balance has been struck, this time between concert-feel and actually good sound.

There was a fair amount of effort put into the stage design too; mic stands made out of chains, skulls on plinths, an impromptu pub made out of amplifiers with beer sat on it, flashing siren lights, BLS banners etc. There’s a professional looking lighting show and the camera work is well done. So in one way, it’s a good looking concert too.

In another way however, the visuals are the only letdown for me as the editing is a bit distracting. A lot of time, especially in the earlier songs, is given over to fancy effects, going black and white momentarily, screen overlays, slow motion, fake film grain etc. which some viewers may find a bit too distracting. Luckily instances of this reduce as the show goes on. It isn’t enough to spoil the concert in my opinion, but if you are picky about that sort of thing I would recommend that you try before you buy it.

I had read negative reviews about this concert stating either that Zack was miming his vocals, that there were very obvious vocal overdubs or that the audio and video were out of synch. Whichever way, if you look at his mouth it doesn’t match the sound of the singing. That would have been a huge letdown for me. I was worried because the same vocal-synching issue had been a fairly big distraction on a Marilyn Manson and a Queensrÿche Blu-Ray I owned and I didn’t want to buy this if it shared the same problem.

I looked on youtube to see footage from the DVD which indeed had the problem, but read reviews that claimed the problem didn’t exist. Luckily when I watch my copy (region 0 Blu-Ray, with the audio set to DTS HD Master Audio) there is no issue at all. All the tom rolls, guitar solos and singing matches what you see on screen. Admittedly, Zack has a lot of effects on his vocals, other members do backing vocals and there are some sections of pre-recorded music like in lots of concerts, that you were never meant to think was live, but that’s about it.

The bonus features include an extra four songs (‘Been A Long Time,’ ‘Suicide Messiah,’ ‘Stillborn’ with massive extended-jam & ‘Genocide Junkies’) from London, three music videos from the Mafia album, a making-of for the ‘Suicide Messiah’ video and a 50-minute documentary feature called ‘Backstage Pass.’

The video is 1080i HD Widescreen 16:9 (1.78:1). The audio options are LPCM Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1 or DTS HD Master Audio

Overall, this is a fairly enjoyable Blu-Ray with a well performed and sounding concert and some interesting extras. I would recommend it if you like the band, as long as you aren’t very picking about over-edited concerts or only like the early material.

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