While they never hit big in the way Metallica or Megadeth did back in the late eighties, Anthrax put out a seriously good string of albums while in their prime and continue to make some pretty solid music to this day, even if I haven't enjoyed their material as much since they parted ways with former frontman Joey Belladonna.
Even if their albums haven't hit me as hard as they used to, this new concert DVD, Music Of Mass Destruction proves that the band can still put on one hell of a good live show as it captures them playing in front of an enthusiastic Chicago crowd in December of 2003. While current frontman John Bush gives the audience his all, the rest of the band works just as hard and the group turn in a terrific performance from start to finish.
While looking at the track listing below, long time fans may notice a few of their older classics missing and while this is regrettable, the band does such a great job with the set that it is forgivable. I'll admit, I was hesitant to see how Bush would sound on some of the tracks that Belladonna's vocals (which are quite different than Bush's) helped make so good, but he pulls it off. He gives the older material his own spin and doesn't try to ape the previous vocalist, instead making the songs fit in quite nicely with the newer material.
Tracks on this DVD are as follows:
1. What Doesn't Die
2. Got The Time
3. Caught In A Mosh
4. Safe Home
5. Room For One More
7. Nobody Knows Anything
8. Belly Of The Beast
9. Inside Out
10. Refuse To Be Denied
12. I Am The Law
14. Be All, End All
16. Bring The Noise
It's a drag that songs that are so closely associated with the band like Amoung The Living and Madhouse aren't included (nor is anything at all from the Spreading The Disease album). Luckily, there's enough enthusiasm, energy, and, of course, moshing to make this disc worth checking out.
The video is presented in a solid 1.85.1 widescreen transfer. It's non-anamorphic, but it still looks pretty nice. The colors are well reproduced and the picture is clear and clean. Black levels remain stable throughout thought there is some mild compression artifacting present in a few spots. Considering that this was shot on film using eight cameras though, Music Of Mass Destruction looks better than your average metal concert video and aside from the mild compression artifacts and the lack of anamorphic enhancement, it holds up pretty well.
The bass and drums on this Dolby Digital 5.1 track are great. They're not too heavy, not too light, and have just the right amount of punctuation in the mix. Vocals come through easily enough and you shouldn't have any problems understanding John Bush as he wails his way through the set. The guitar could have been a little heavier in the front of the soundstage but aside from that, this is an excellent sound mix. An optional Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mix is included on the disc as well, but if you've got the 5.1 capability, that's the track to choose.
Sanctuary Records have gathered up some decent extra features for this release. First up are two segments featuring some before/during/after show footage of the band and some members of the audience entitled Beer Break and Smoke Break. It isn't exactly deep, but it is mildly entertaining. After that, each band member gets a segment that runs roughly ten minutes long. These segments give their respective topics a chance to talk candidly about their interests and their experiences with the band. Everyone seems to get along really well and have a good time doing what they do and it's nice to see this kind of enthusiasm for their music and their work.
A half-hour segment detailing the work that comic book artist Alex Ross did for the band (including the cover art for this DVD). The man behind the visuals on such classic comic series of the last decade as Marvels and Kingdom Come reveals how the band came to him with the idea of using his work. Subsequently he became an Anthrax fan after getting to know the band members and wasn't overly familiar with their music beforehand. Ross fans will enjoy getting an inside look at his home studio and seeing the artist at work.
There are also two songs from the concert presented with multiple angle options - Feuled and Metal Thrashing Mad. This is a fun feature that lets you decide which band member you want the camera to focus in on at any given point during either of these songs. There are also a couple of fun little Easter eggs scattered about the animated menus.
Last but not least, Sanctuary Records have also included a CD of the concert in this package. It doesn't have as many tracks as the DVD does (it's missing Belly Of The Beast, 604, Be All, End All and Indians) but it's great to have this on CD format as well and is a very welcome bonus feature.
Anthrax fans will want to add this disc to their collections without question. Solid video, great audio, and some decent extras are combined with a nice selection of newer and classic tracks that make for a great DVD concert experience. Recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.