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This box set covers a lot of shit - some 8 or 9 hours of it, and approximately one third of that is complete shit. There are boring bass solos. There are fucking Kirk Hammett guitar solos, and we all know that he's not exactly the best guitar player in the world, nor the most imaginative. There is Lars Ulrich drum solo - hey, there's even James Hetfield drum solo. Hell, even Jason plays drums at one point (and sings Seek and Destroy at another). But most of all, there's too much noodling during songs (a lot more on the post Black album recordings than on '89 DVD). For example, Seek and Destroy is stretched into 15 minutes (18 in audio version!), which might be bearable if you were at the show itself, but not behind your TV screen. "We've turned Metallica into a circus act" is what Lars says at one point, and I couldn't have said it better myself.
But when they rock, they rock hard. Most of the material here was recorded in '92 and '93, soon after they hit it big with Black album and not all that long before they cut their hair and balls and plagued the world with Load and other stuff. Whiplash, for example, is turned into a more vicious thrasher that it was originally, and basically everything here is played on a high level, both accurate and with remarkable dose of energy. One could argue about song selection, as there could never be enough stuff from first 4 albums and there's too much from Black album, but even these later songs sound better live than they did in studio (less sterile for sure).
What this box set is is a great testament of an era when Metallica was basically rock band no. 1, when grade school kids listed them as their favourite band along with Roxette and Billy Idol and Bon Jovi, when they brought metal into households - there was just no way of escaping them. This is a testament of a band who turned many kids into metal, many of which "overgrew" them during the years to come. Its historical importance cannot be denied, but that still doesn't mean it's a live recording to end all live recordings.
Unlike Cliff 'em All home vid for example, which you could (at least I could) watch over and over again, the videos presented here are fun to watch maybe once every 4 or 5 years, and even then with friends, booze and skip button as a necessary equipment. Audio part of box is on more constant rotation, as it doesn't require non-stop attention, but it needs skips as well (especially the 18 minute long guitar/bass solos and 18 minute long Seek and Destroy).
Despite all the shit thrown in, this box could easily get 85 or so after first watch / listen. Cut out 1/3 of it, and we got a 90 here. But the way it is, it's just not made for repeated watches. And remember, this thing originally cost some $75 or so, and that's too much for something you actually need to watch only once. 68 there is, then. Recommended for watching / listening, but not recommended for buying, unless you need a dust collector.
The biggest difference in this set of DVDs is just how loud Metallica were back in those days, 1986-1992, Metallica were at the peak of their live performances, Within this box set, you will find 5 hours of the loudest metal you can hear since Motorhead in their prime. The crowd participation is unlike most other concerts, Metallica really get the crowd involved. James's Vocals were at their absolute peak. "Enter Sandman" and "Harvester of Sorrow" sound better than their studio album counterparts. "Sad but true" is the loudest and heaviest song they played in the san diego concert. The mix of the heavy black album songs and their classics worked very well.
The highlights of this album is an 18 minute version of "Seek and destroy" as Hetfield looks for someone in the crowd to scream for him, This kind of crowd participation is never found in Metallica concerts of today. "Battery" is fast as hell, Lars Ulrich in those days could pull it off. It's amazing how James can sing the lyrics and play the rhythm guitar at the same time for a track like Battery and Whiplash. He is phenomenal. Jason Newsted gets to sing like a maniac in the 91 version of Whiplash, He sounds great, much better than most full time vocalists to be honest. "Fade to black" and "One" add a lot of atmosphere to them, They sound even better than in the studio version.
There's a 20 minute solo given to each member of the band, Jason, Kirk, Lars. James and Lars even have a drum battle with each other with James almost winning. They perform covers of "breadfan" and "Am I Evil?" and they never sounded better. The best part is the Intro for "Am I Evil?", which really sounds evil. They perform fan favorites like "Master of Puppets" and "Creeping Death", further cementing their love for the fans. There are chicks flashing, people head-banging etc, Everything you could possibly hope for in a Live DVD.
Are there any drawbacks?, well, it could just be too loud and too long for the average Metal fan but for enthusiasts, This is one of the best you can ever find. Metal non-stop.
I’m reviewing the 3 CDs that come with this set, nothing else (seeing how when I bought it, it was just the CDs by themselves without all the extras)
What can I say about this album? Well, it’s everything that’s great about live albums, from one of the greats of metal, while still in their prime. This is the live album that everyone should have, not that S&M crap. Sure, the box set is expensive as hell, but if you find the CDs by themselves, you can get it for a very reasonable 25 bucks and I’d highly recommend grabbing it up.
Recorded in Mexico City during Metallica’s peak, this album has everything that a live album should. The audience is loud, there’s some good fun banter between the band and the audience between songs, a little bit of doodling around and some fun crowd participation and a shitload of classic cuts that make this album flow. Sure there’s a bit of an abundance of Black Album material, but considering this was recorded during the tour in support of that album it can be overlooked.
Disc 1 starts things off with the overplayed Enter Sandman, but it’s played with a lot of energy and sounds pretty good. After that they blast out the classic Creeping Death and Harvester of Sorrow, both shredding it up. Then they pull out Sanitarium which sounds decent, but just loses something when put in a live atmosphere. Then we get a few more black album tunes… they give a good shot at Sad But True, Of Wolf and Man sounds a bit better live and then they slow things down with The Unforgiven (which I believe translates much better live than I would have thought). To finish the disc off we get The Justice Medley… a medley of just about every song on And Justice that they didn’t already play (besides One which is on the next disc). After that they do a 20 minute bass/guitar solo with a lot of fucking around. The Justice Medley is my favorite on the disc, but I wish they’d cut the solos into like 10 minutes and just played 2 or 3 Justice songs all the way through.
Disc 2 starts off with Through the Never which dose a bang up job of sounding better than the studio cut, partly due to being sped the fuck up and having the guitar solo beefed up. Next they pull out For Whom the Bell Tolls which dose a good job at sounding like the studio version. After that they start playing Fade To Black which sounds excellent, you can feel the energy while listening to it. Next is the God like tune of Master of Puppets, and how could you go wrong with it… well Metallica will show you how; but cutting the song short and stopping right before the badass solo. However, the first half of the song that they do play dose kick ass… not to mention the next song gets the royal treatment it deserves. Metallica rips out the oldie Seek and Destroy and do is a helluva lot of justice. And what more could you want after that? Well Whiplash will sure do… and it fuckin’ shreds hard.
Disc 3 starts off on the low note of Nothing Else Matters, but gets kicked up a bit by Wherever I May Roam. Next up is Am I Evil? which has a shit load of goofing around on it before they bust the actual song out. Of coarse that’s a cover of Diamond Head, but Metallica do a helluva job on it. This disc has a few covers on it, including the next track Last Caress that was originally done by the Misfits. After that Metallica gives us One, which is good… but I always founded it overrated. I’d much rather heard Blackened off And Justice. After that we get a cover of So What? (originally done by Anti Nowhere League) and Battery both stuck on the same track together, with So What replacing Battery‘s mellow intro. Then they do a commendable job of pulling out some old shit n play The Four Horsemen and Motorbreath in excellent form and close the disc off with a cover of Queen’s Stone Cold Crazy.
Overall this 3 Disc set has all the great hits from Metallica before they had a chance to play anything that wasn’t good on a live record. I guess the only real complaint is that there were a few too many Black Album songs and the overlong guitar/bass solo. But if you can get around these small bits, you’ll see Metallica playing classic material in a very energetic fashion. And with the length of this 3 disc set you can easily get around to the shit you wanna hear. Overall, this album has everything you could really want in a live album.
One word describes this release — HUGE! It comes in a huge box, shaped like a band's footlocker. There's a huge nine hours of music inside the box, including a huge triple CD live album and three video tapes of live footage, along with an old back stage pass, a book full of hundreds of pictures and Metallica related documents, and a scary guy stencil. Forget the videos and the packaging, let's concentrate on the live album.
Anyone who has ever seen Metallica can attest to how tight the band are as a live unit, and it shows. There's hardly a slip to be detected anywhere in the entire album. It's not a one shot demonstration of the band however, as it was gathered from five nights in Mexico in 1993. The breaks are hard to find though.
And how does Metallica rate live? A fan really could not ask for much more in a live album. A faithful journey through Metallica's first five albums, a few covers, reinterpretations of some older songs, an excellent showcase of the talents of the band members, James Hetfield's corny but friendly stage banter, and a big dose of plain old heavy fucking metal.
Highlights: the insane reaction of audience members Hetfield grabs to help with singing Seek And Destroy; the addition of the unlisted So What?; Jason Newsted's vocals and the extra gear of Whiplash; Kirk Hammett hitting the solo to One almost note perfect; the near on religious rapture of the entire audience at hearing Metallica live.
One small criticism: the bass and guitar solos by Jason and Kirk both show their utter mastery of their respective instruments, and hold your attention throughout the almost 19 minute break, but why so long? Perhaps cut it back to 10 minutes and throw in another song, like "Fight Fire With Fire" or "Disposable Heroes" or "Leper Messiah".
Every fan of Metallica needs to hear this. It puts the stodgy, overblown orchestral theatrics of S&M firmly in its place. This is THE definitive Metallica live album.
Its hard to see how they could have made this album anything short of amazing. But its Metallica, and they manage. Now, Metallica does have an incredibly kick ass live sound. Even some of their more mediocre songs sound quite good live. As this was recorded after the Black Album, we luckily do not need to hear anything of Load, Reload, or St. Anger. There is also the abundance of this package: Three discs, and two live concerts on video. Pretty damn good. There are however, several problems with this album; namely, pretty bad song selection, annoying talking and fucking around seconds, and stupid tracks where we are subjected to Kirk Hammett and Jason Newstead noodling around on the guitar and bass for way too long.
Start with the first Disc. Immediately, we can see the mediocre song selection: Enter Sandman? Sad But True? Justice Medley? Why can't they just play full songs (Justice Medley) instead of subjecting us to a little teaser of a song? Enter Sandman doesn't sound that bad live, but Sad But True and still definitely sucks. We are then subjected to a shitload of crappy bass and guitar solos. No. However, there is also Creeping Death, which sounds amazing live, as well as Harvester of Sorrow, which would be very good if they didn't completely stop the song for thirty seconds in the middle of the song. Not a very good first CD.
The second CD is much better, with some of Metallica's best. Whiplash sounds phenomenal live, and will cause you to headbang like hell. Seek and Destroy, Through the Never, For Whom the Bell Tolls... and of course Fade to Black all sound betetr than their studio versions. Puppets could have been great too... but they take the second half out. Bad idea. But this is definitely the best of the CDs on this album. Very little screwing around.
The third disc is also quite good, with an amazing Diamond Head cover of Am I Evil that sounds better than the original and an excellent Queen cover of Stone Cold Crazy. We also get The Four Horsemen, Motorbreath, and Battery, which is kind of ruined by all the fucking around they do before getting into the song.
The Seattle 89' video kicks incredibly amounts of ass. Now that's a great setlist. Once again, there is lots of screwing around, but it really is a good concert. The San Diego video from 92 pretty much has the same strengths and weaknesses of the album.
If you are a die hard Metallica fanboy, or even just a regular fan, you will definitely want to pick this up. It is frustrating, though, that something that could have easily been one of the best live albums ever was just good.
Now, I'm not big on live records. Most of the time they're cash-ins, and although some sound better than the studio, often they lack the inspiration and novelty of the original cut. However, this grabs a big score by being 1) Metallica, 2) Well-recorded, and 3) Fucking huge. It's insane for the individual CD set to be pushing 60$ Canadian and the DVDs around 70$ but this doesn't detract from their quality. It only limits their distribution, and thus this album is rarely considered as one of the greatest live albums ever.
Well it is. By sheer breadth it's nearly unparalleled (did someone say Pearl Jam? Quiet you), and these are incredible performances from an incredible band at the height of their powers. It's also the most LIVE live album I've ever heard. The crowd is high in the mix, the stage banter is rambling and untouched, and the performances are raw and electric.
Actually, what is almost my fav part in this box is the stage banter. James is a comedic genius! Rarely have I ever laughed out loud at a metal record, but this one is great. I actually quote this thing daily, which is either sad or awesome depending on your perspective. Plus, one of the funniest drum solo's in history right here.
And then there is the spontaneous feel. No other band just start dropping pieces of covers 'n' classics like Metallica, or at least with that sense of style. "Frayed Ends of Sanity", "Smoke on the Water", "Little Wing, "Ride the Lightning", "Mistreated", "Hall of the Mountain King", "Blitzkrieg", and others make cameo appearances (mostly during solo spots) and it becomes a fun game to try to recognize the snippets. Of course you could cheat and check the liners...wanker.
Anyway, video/DVD one is the Seattle show from the ...And Justice for All tour. It's the shortest set alas, but this is old school Metallica to the nine's. The performances are sublime, and say what you will about post-Master Tallica records, these guys had their live shit down like never before. Also, this was the first tour with sizeable venues, and the scope of the audience lends power and glory (*wink*) to the show. Anyway, the set is nearly impeccable (even a piece of “Orion”) and we get some of their greatest songs. "Blackened", "Sanitarium", "Harvester of Sorrow", "Master of Puppets" (with interlude!), "Whiplash", "Breadfan", "Four Horsemen", "Am I Evil?" (uncut version!), and best of all, "...And Justice For All"...fuck it, everything here rocks are unsafe levels. Oh, and the bass solo is actually entertaining if overlong.
San Diego is a marathon show from the Black Tour. The new cuts (five of em) fit in perfectly with the old school cuts. "Enter Sandman" is heavy and groovy, with some Lars's most inspired drumming on the intro and outro. "Through the Never" and "Of Wolf and Man" are energetic, and "Sad but True" is live perfection. "The Unforgiven" is a tune the band never plays anymore, but it's fucking incredible live, and holds it's own with no less than "One", "Fade to Black", and "Sanitarium" in the same set. The Justice medley is incredible and I'm so enthused that we get to hear "Eye of the Beholder" and the title track, two cuts sadly neglected in recent years. Alas, the guitar solo is overlong and dull, and the bass solo is only notable for a taste of the beautiful "My Friend of Misery".
Mexico is the longest show of all. Basically whatever goes for the others goes for this one. I question the need for seven black tracks, but we still have an equal number of old schoolers plus more Kill 'Em All. "Motorbreath"! Of special note is the "Battery"-medley, featuring pieces of "No Remorse", "Ride the Lightning", and "So What?" before galloping into the eternal set piece "Battery".
In other words, buy this now, forget the house payments!
Stand-Outs: God… Seattle “Am I Evil?”, Seattle “…And Justice for All”, San Diego “The Four Horsemen”
Note: I am reviewing the original release on VHS, not the recent dvd box.
To my knowledge, there is no live album in existence which is as ambitious as this one. After the black album tour, the logical next step in Metallica's career was a live album, both to capitalize on their astonishing popularity and to remind their fans of the power of their concert experience. With this box, metallica clearly went beyond this obligation, releasing not one but three complete shows.
The highlight here is the Seattle show from 1989. I've watched this video countless times over the years, and their intensity and dexterity never get boring. Many of Metallica most complex and technical songs are included here, including most of the ..And Justice for All album, and seeing these songs performed live is amazing. Aside from the songs, Metallica works the crowd in an entertaining and amusing fashion, as when James exhorts the legion of headbangers to scream out a string of obscenities to wake up the neighbors. Furthermore, the stage show is bombastic and enormous, and watching the Lady Justice statue fall to pieces during the title track (and seeing Kirk Hammet's frightened reaction, is the highlight of this video.
The other two shows come from the Black Album tour, but they nevertheless have fairly different setlists. The only downside of the performances is the unfortunately large amount of bullshit. One hour into the shows, there is a break for 20 minutes of bass and guitar solos, which are occasionally interesting but more often simple boring wankery. The next such moment occurs as Metallica draws 5 minute thrash song Seek and Destroy out into a 20 minute sing-along, with James letting members of the audience yell the chorus into his microphone. On top of this, San Diego features a drum solo, which is more an excuse for James and Lars to goof around a bit more. It is amusing to see James drum, but it isn't something worth watching over and over. I suppose these breaks were necessary as Metallica played three hour shows almost every night for the better part of two years, but watching them on a video or hearing them on cd just isn't very interesting. On the other hand, it keeps in line with Metallica's goal of presenting the entire show, warts and all, and not releasing a studio album with crowd noise added.
Another excellent inclusion is the book, which, in addition to cataloguing every date of the tour also provides an insight into daily life on the road through tour riders, faxes, and even bills for alcohol-fueled destruction. It seems as though this was the last tour where Metallica really had fun, before becoming much more professional about the whole thing.
So, while it is certainly a bit expensive, this set is well worth the money, as it offers a comprehensive look at the world's biggest metal band at the height of their career.