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They're not dead yet. - 85%

caspian, April 26th, 2010

As a fairly big fanboy of Metallica, over the last however many years I tend to idly check on how they're going in the live format; download an mp3 or two or, with all those new fangled internet speeds, hit the youtubes and see how it's all going. From what I can tell, there was a pretty low point around 03-06 or so, but the new material's got them back to a quality that's probably akin to the Cunning Stunts era. Hetfield's voice varies from show to show and he needs to stop ruining the Fade to Black outro, Lars needs to practise a bit more, well, they're hardly new problems. 'Course, it's hard to judge by a big, speccy production like this as to where they're at live. Based on a different recorded version of this show that I downloaded, Hetfield had a good night, thus making the autotune a bit unnecessary, but the drum quantitizing was well needed. Who knows how much studio trickery was involved, though.

Regardless, the new songs and Dyer's Eve are a definite highlight on here. I've always figured that Metallica must get completely sick of having to play Puppets, Fade to Black, One, the usual stuff, year after year and gig after gig, and while the classics are all delivered competently (it's hard to ruin such great songs) the band seems to have a much better time playing stuff that they haven't completely hammered into the ground.

That's a pretty accurate description of this DVD, really; just watch all the less-played cuts and forget the rest. All Nightmare Long and Broken, Beat & Scarred off the new one are particular standouts; the former doesn't suffer at all from being played straight after One, and the band really throw themselves at BBS. Dyer's is probably the peak here; I've always considered the solo section to be one of Metallica's finest moments; a strangely beautiful, soaring instrumental break and here it's in full glory, Hammett makes a few mistakes but overall it's still some of the finest music you'll ever hear.

Some truly fantastic moments aside, there's the usual "off to the bar" moments. I definitely reckon the average Metallica show would improve tenfold were they to cut a few songs off the damn set list too. Nothing Else Matters has never worked too well live without the extra guitars, strings and Bob Rock trickery, here's no exception. Seek and Destroy is about as anticlimatic a closer as you can get. Day that Never Comes? How'd that even get on the new album? Cut half an hour off, and put FFWF and Battery in. It's not rocket science.. And does Sandman really need to be played? Most people who go to see Metallica these days are going to be fans of all the stuff, so it wouldn't hurt resting it for a change. Oh well. While I'm bitching, there is no excuse for cutting off the tail off the Blackened solo! None whatsoever. Aaaaargh.

Yeah, there's some filler and a bit of fat could be trimmed off but I still thoroughly enjoyed this whole thing. Lars' habit of speeding up randomly through songs actually works rather well in MoP, Dyer's is one of the best Metallica songs, the new stuff works well, it's all relatively tight and Hetfield will always have an amazing stage presence. Being an extremely expensive production, the direction, camera angles etc. is faultless. Opening with Blackened and Creeping Death back to back is a pretty conclusive way of saying "We have the best back catalogue in the world". To be honest, you probably already knew whether you were going to buy this or not, but for those on the fence I definitely recommend you do. It's Metallica on a good night, playing a good set, with it captured extremely well.

Postscript: The interviews and stuff were also pretty good, but I see that as pretty unimportant in the context of a concert film, thus I didn't mention them