Various Artists, "Metal Mania 2007"
Spanning black, folk, thrash, death and traditional metal across one DVD and even another CD, the latter featuring the smaller acts from the side stage, Metal Mind Productions' MetalMania 2007 collection offers up a bit of everything for a bit of everyone. Featuring footage from Sepultura, Korpiklaani, Vital Remains, Destruction, Blaze Bayley and a plethora of Testament - the headliner of the fest - performances, among others, there are a whopping 30 video performances on the DVD side of MetalMania 2007. All shot in March 2007 in Poland on professional, multi-camera footage and angles with soundboard-quality audio, making that alone worth the purchase price if listeners dig both live performances and the wide variety of subgenres on display therein.
While performances from some bands are clearly the result of years of honing their craft (Testament, Sepultura, Destruction, even Blaze Bayley), some performances showcase the European style of performance: playing the respective instruments, steadfastly in place. While Crystal Abyss' black metal approach doesn't lend itself much to crowd interaction, the revamped Vital Remains line-up does a fine job of working the crowd into a frenzy with its epic "Deschristianize," with the aptly named Damien Boyton delivering gutterals alongside Dave Suzuki's throaty rasps and lead guitar wizardry. By the time the nearly nine-minute epic is done, viewers will be able to tell the crowd blatantly wants "Infidel" to rip ahead next. The only obstacle is Metalmania's huge stage and subsequent gaping hole between stage and safety barriers, a distant three feet away, barring fan interaction to a fraction of what it could be.
And what better way to follow up Vital Remains than with a one-two blow of Entombed ("When In Sodom," "Carnage," and "Revel In Flesh" respectively) and Destruction ("Nailed To The Cross," "Total Disaster," and "Bestial Invasion") up next, both of whose performances do the bands' legendary histories justice. Sepultura's three tracks ("Convicted In Life," "False," and "Dead Embryonic Cells") are Sepultura as Sepultura is expected with a killer light show and outstanding crowd reaction to boot, although the band's sound does lack from only enlisting Andreas Kisser as the sole guitarist. Regardless, performance-wise, the band Sepultura is surely on point.
Then there's, arguably, the crowning achievement on Metalmania 2007: the five - yes, five - Testament tracks, all of which feature the classic line-up with the addition of Nick Barker on drums. Blistering through a perfectly-played set of Tstament classics, the Bay Area legends nail everything about "The Preacher," "The New Order," "The Haunting," "Electric Crown" (a personal favorite), which also showcases Alex Skolnick's personable and prodiginous approach to jazz-influenced metal leads, before culminating in the brutal "D.N.R." from the band's latest studio release, 1999's The Gathering.
While not all the performances are re-watchable countless times, Zyklon's performances lack a clear treble and instead employ a muddy deep end, Darzamat (a pleasant surprise) sounds full and filled with vigor, And Blaze Bayley's three tracks, despite your views on his music, actually whips the crowd up, thanks in large part to Bayley's center stage walkway that extends out to the security barrier. For some reason Paradise Lost only gets one track on the the compilation, but the band performs it top notch.
Ultimately a cool collector for fans of the countless bands on the DVD, Metalmania 2007 is a professional DVD, definitely better than many witnessed in the past years, especially with Testament's solid set of classics, Vital Remains' masterful delivery of meniachal blasphemy, solid performances from Korpiklaani, Darzamat, and Destruction's throwback set, along with a photo gallery, Metalmania history, and images for your computer, there's plenty to sink your teeth into on Metalmania 2007.
As for the audio portion, there's less left to be desired from the side stage's acts, although thankfully, for this reviewer, it's a sampler of bands rather than a live compilation. Some tracks feature a more gothic feel, while Deadtide favorites TYR offers up the excellent "Brother's Bane," while Horrorscope's "Killers Breeding" sounds like Brainstorm with death metal vocals peppered in. Forever Will Burn's "It Ends In Darkness" is a surprisingly tolerable, if not wholly-competent, take on metalcore, despite the cliché band name and ever-so kitchy song title. The rest are not really much to write home about, though, so your best bet is on the video portion of this collection, which is definitely something to write home to mum about.Bob.D