After publishing the review of the CD version a few days ago, the lovely people at Nuclear Blast sent us through a jen-yoo-wine DVD copy of the rapidly upcoming live Anthrax release Kings Among Scotland. To save repeating myself, hop back to that one to read about the song choice, music and sound quality. I’m going to focus on the video and bonus material here.
The first point to make is that this is the whole gig. Like the CD, this isn’t (as is usual for these things) edited for length, I swear there’s not a second skipped on either release, which includes every profanity-laden bit of dialogue from Scott Ian and Joey Belladonna. Oh, and the crowd chant of “Here we fucking go” after “I Am The Law” (during which you can see a very ugly, sweaty man in a beard bouncing around in the crowd – which would be me).
It’s impressive what the video crew have done with the Barrowlands venue. They definitely packed a load of cameras into the venue and there must be at least a dozen different viewpoints used throughout; a boom camera swoops over the audience, at least one is man-mounted on the stage, there’s one right at the back, a couple are clamped to Charlie Benante’s drums and so on. At times the switch from camera to camera is a little fast, something I noticed with the recent Slipknot DVD also. I guess I’m getting old and just as I’m enjoying a particular scene we’re whipped elsewhere, but given the pace of the music this frenetic movement is to be expected. It does make your own personal game of Where’s Wally more challenging, mind.
Image quality is great, though a little washed-out occasionally due to the lights/smoke machines – nothing that can be helped and after the first song or two, you don’t really notice it. What you do notice is what a spectacular light show the band actually had that night, something I admit passed me by as I was too busy beating the shit out of a bunch of lovely fellow fans at the time. The actual stage set is pretty small, compared to the aforementioned Slipknot festival DVD or a Metallica release, but this is all about the music and the band, and seeing them thrash it out on the legendary Barrowlands stage… frankly bigger is not better in this instance. A venue big enough to hold a decent (sold out) crowd, but small enough to just about class as intimate.
One of my pet peeves about live videos, where the sound and image don’t sync, is completely non-existent. The editors have done a great job and you can see each drum hit and strum of a guitar pick as the relevant noise erupts from your speakers. Great stuff.
So the show’s good. We kind of expected that. So what of the extras? There are two on the disc (well, on a separate disc): On The Road (35 mins) and Anthrax Gear Documentary (25mins). The former details the band’s trip on the Among The Kings tour from London to Glasgow. The band detail the set they played with footage from several of the venues. The chapters include The Set Up, Life On The Road, On Tour Dangers (warning, here be blood), a tour round The Bus, a chance to meet Scott’s son, and A Metal Day Off. Honestly, for a little over half an hour, this is a great little insight into what goes into a tour. There’s no real glamour, nobody hams it up – it’s just an interesting documentary.
The Gear Documentary is similarly filmed on the road and features the band taking you through their instruments and other kit. Scott and Charlie (or at least Charlie’s kit, mainly detailed by drum tech Francis) have the lion’s share of the footage and – even from the perspective of a non-muso like me – it’s interesting and fun to watch, even if it’s not something you might watch more than once.
So there you have it. While most people these days will settle for the CD (or – shudder – just make do with streaming), those who pony up for the DVD are definitely getting their money’s worth. Actually, I’d pick the DVD in preference. It’s a shame there’s no combo-package with them both!
Kings Among Scotland is out on April 27th
Header photo by Lowrey Photography