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Like I have written on a previous DVD review, I'm usually not a big fan of live video footage of metal bands in general. I'm usually turned off by the quality after I get all hyped up. Some bands don't perform well on stage, others are too focused on their instruments they forget that they're being watched by their biggest fans. Some DVDs' sound quality just blows and the cameras are not well synchronized. After such a long wait and anticipation, The Year Of The Voyager finally blew my mind. Being a huge Nevermore fan since 2003, after watching their entire DVD I honestly think that what this band achieves live no other band has been able to do before, and here is why:
First of all we need to clarify, for those who don't know this band, what Nevermore really are. They're a breed of progressive and thrash metal, a bit more focused on the progressiveness. The songs they write all sound different in their own way, and they all manage to take the listeners places. With 7 releases including their self-titled EP, they perfected their sound and reached their definite peak with their latest album This Godless Endeavor. With what can arguably be the best metal guitarist around nowadays, a God for a singer and one of the heaviest rhythm sections in the genre, the band always sounded flawless to my ears. But on this DVD they had another outstanding musician added to the line up for the main live concert going on the DVD. I am talking about the great Broderick. For some reason the guy's name is nowhere to be seen in the line-up section, maybe because he never recorded any of their full lengths, but he definitely made a big difference in this live set.
Like Warrel Dane says on the interview, the songs they chose to be on the main show were very well picked. They definitely put all their best songs from all of their full length albums, with a well varied order where every song made you stare in awe and await the next track in eagerness. With 21 tracks in total including the intro and a taped track, I honestly don't think the main show could have been better put together. The fact that the main show was filmed in Germany was a very good choice, it was a very good venue for live footage, and the fans are just as good as their home fans. People often say that European metal fans are usually more into it than Americans, but I'm sure fans from Washington would have gone too wild for their home boys and that would have spoiled their life performance. The second DVD has live performances by the band before Broderick, mostly with Steve Smith on second guitars, in Canada, Poland and Wacken Open Air in Germany in 2006. Even an extra anniversary party in LA back in 2001, as well as several promo videos of their best songs.
And now for the live performance. These guys sound as good live as they do on their studio recordings, or even better at times. Jeff Loomis is the greatest live shredder I've ever seen, he goes all out and his solos are more mind blowing live than I have ever expected. With the extremely talented Chris Broderick handling second guitars (and doing his share of soloing too), the guitar playing displayed in this show will never be topped in my book. Two of my favorite metal guitarists playing my favorite metal songs with one of my all time favorite metal bands. It is said that Warrel Dane is sometimes hit or miss on stage, but I couldn't be more satisfied with the job he did on this live DVD. The guy's voice was in better shape than ever, and sober for a change. He delivered all the songs with perfection and knew exactly how to communicate with the crowd to get the reaction he wanted. Van Williams has always been a very impressive drummer, his skins always sounded very heavy and his drum fills and rhythm sections showed a lot of complexity and a lot of talent, and a lot more so on live footage where you can actually see him sweat beating the skins with his big black hair and his unique way of moving behind the drum set. Nothing should need to be said about Sheppard on bass, he has always been a very good live presence, one that stands out in all live footage. He's tall, he has long black hair, and he has the bass touch that this band needs to fill the awesome rhythm sections. And like the rest of them he has all the stage presence you could ask for from a live musician. The stage wasn't overly big and not too small either, just the perfect size. And the sound coming out of the speakers has obviously taken a lot of effort from the people who set up the stage. It is perfectly balanced, and you can hear all the instruments very clearly.
Without a doubt the best addition I made to my live DVD collection, and if you're wondering if any live metal DVD is worth acquiring then this one is a definite YES. Whether you've ever listened to this band or not, and ESPECIALLY if you're a fan of their work, this double DVD is a must in everyone's collection. I will be watching this numerous times until I am probably in my 50's and thinking "I wish these guys were still alive and kicking", and who knows, maybe Loomis will still be shredding in his 70's. I can only wish these musicians will never go, and will always be around to deliver such a great performance. This is the best live metal anyone can get their hands on. So far.