|Category||Music Video||Theatrical Trailer(s)||None|
|Year Released||1999||Commentary Tracks||None|
|Running Time||Disc One: 71:05 minutes
Disc Two: 78:01 minutes
Total: 149:06 minutes
|Other Extras||Menu Audio & Animation
Multi-Angle (4 songs, 5 angles per song)
Music Video-No Leaf Clover (Maestro Edit)
Music Video-No Leaf Clover (Slice & Dice Edit)
DVD-ROM Extras (Discography, Web Links)
|RSDL/Flipper||Disc 1: RSDL (38:58)
Disc 2: RSDL (53:42)
San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
|Case||Double Super Jewel|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||MPEG||None|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None||Dolby Digital||None|
|16x9 Enhancement||No||Soundtrack Languages||English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448Kb/s)
English Band + Orchestra (Dolby Digital 2.0, 256Kb/s)
English Band Only (Dolby Digital 2.0, 256Kb/s)
English Orchestra Only (Dolby Digital 2.0, 256Kb/s)
|Theatrical Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes|
In Short: I'da thunk it, and my record collection thunks it every damned day, thank you very much!
The average Metallica fan will try to tell you that this is the first time Metallica's type of sound, their version of which can be described as second-rate at the best of times, and classical orchestration has been blended together. Indeed, some reviewers of lesser calibre than Michael and I have actually come right out and said this in their pages.
This is far from the case. British new-wave doom sextet My DyING BRIDE managed this trick on a smaller scale by being the first band to feature a full time violinist/pianist all the way back in 1991, although said violinist/pianist quit in 1997 for reasons best known to himself. Norwegian octuplet Theatre Of Tragedy featured a full-scale orchestra on what is considered to be their absolute masterpiece, Velvet Darkness They Fear, in 1996. Last, but not least, Swedish maestros Therion have regularly featured both a reduced-scale orchestra (sometimes two, in fact) and a full-scale choir since 1995 saw the release of Theli. These are just the three most famous and well-known examples, the ones that you can go into any independent record store where the proprietor knows his stuff and ask for. I haven't even begun to delve into the more obscure examples that sit in my record collection, with lyrics in more languages than I am sure the average Metallica fan has even heard of. Some months ago, I had a conversation with Simon Gruer, the masculine half of Avrigus, who show the promise of being Australia's contribution to the exalted hall of fame that the above three names belong to. When the topic swung around to the CD release of the S&M concerts, this is what he had to say about the combination of Metallica and composer Michael Kamen: "Most of the time the orchestra just clashes with the band. Clearly the conductor has no passion for Metallica and vice versa." The Call Of Ktulu, the first song on Disc One, is a perfect example of this. What should have been a perfect blending, and would have been in the hands of a band that does this sort of thing all the time, like the mighty Therion, is simply nothing but two distinctly different sets of performers playing what sounds like two completely different songs. This is in spite of the fact that this would have been the easiest song in the set to combine.
Of course, it is important to realize that Metallica weren't always as horrendous as they are today, and in fact, they were once the single most imitated band that the ailing 1980s hard-core music society had seen since Black Sabbath. Their sophomore album, Ride The Lightning, showed more promise than even I would have at the time, and although the bassist, Cliff Burton, was the only musician who showed this promise, it was there in abundance. Sadly, after the third album, Master Of Puppets, Cliff was killed in a bus accident. Remaining members Lars Ulrich (drums/ego), James Hetfield (guitar/voice), and Kirk Hammett (guitar) sought a replacement and found former Flotsam & Jetsam bassist Jason Newsted. Soon, things went way downhill, with the next album, ...And Justice For All sounding comparatively pedestrian to say the least, with the trademark oomph from the rhythm section being conspicuously absent. The next, self-titled album, however, was like a knife in the heart to the fans of the early days without whom Metallica would still be recording albums in Lars' garage. Repetition, simplicity, and an inherent lack of imagination or innovation had well and truly set in, making for a tiresome listening experience. Two albums later, and now they are making claims to being the first to do something that predates their effort by a decade, and this is saying nothing of the fact that their effort is clearly not even remotely the best to be produced in a single year.
In case you're wondering, the tracklisting of the DVD is as follows:
|Disc One||Disc Two|
|The Ecstasy Of Gold||Nothing Else Matters|
|The Call Of Ktulu||Until It Sleeps|
|Master Of Puppets||For Whom The Bell Tolls|
|Of Wolf And Man||- Human|
|The Thing That Should Not Be||Wherever I May Roam|
|The Memory Remains||Sad But True|
|No Leaf Clover||One|
|Hero Of The Day||Enter Sandman|
The first thing that struck me about this transfer, right from the noise-ridden Elektra logo, is that it seems to have been designed and filmed more with the Very Horrid-looking System in mind rather than any digital medium. The transfer is presented in Full Frame, and naturally isn't 16x9 enhanced, which is a real pity when you consider that a wider aspect ratio, say 1.85:1, would have kept more of the orchestra in frame. Then again, considering that it also would have kept more than one or two band members in frame at once, this might not have been such a good idea. Kirk Hammett seems the only band member left who hasn't worked out how to play his instrument and pose at the same time, and that's probably only because the lead guitarist, like Tony Iommi before him, is such an unanimated and lifeless performer in comparison to the rest of the band. The sharpness of this transfer varies up and down within each song, with any shot of Lars Ulrich's face being hazy and indistinct, which is not such a bad thing in and of itself, and only some shots having anything resembling the clarity we should expect and demand from the DVD format. Shadow detail is non-existent, with black areas in the transfer being large expanses of black that possess little in the way of detail. Thankfully, low-level noise in these vast expanses of black was non-existent or near enough to not be noticed by these young and exceptionally fussy eyes.
Because the stage in this performance was lit with all sorts of bright, coloured lights, and that vast expanses of the stage are simply nothing but darkness, the colour saturation may be described as accurate to the material that was filmed, but obviously the saturation in the source material is all over the place by definition. Compared to the other music video DVDs I have reviewed, the stage lighting simply overrides any natural visuals and becomes more of a distraction than anything else. Compared to Live & Loud in particular, this unnatural lighting scheme does more to hurt the visuals than help them. Chroma noise was an occasional problem in the blue stage lights, but the general lack of definition in the lighting certainly takes precedence over this artefact.
MPEG artefacts were absent from the transfer, although many sections of the transfer simply did not have enough clarity or discernible detail to place any serious stress on the encoding, with the aforementioned shots of Lars Ulrich seemingly hazed out on purpose to make his incessant posing more tolerable. However, there is one shot at 43:56 in which the entire picture, save for a pair of clapping hands, becomes nothing but a blur. Given that this shot was allocated eight megabits, I guess that it is simply a loss of focus from the camera, but it is quite disturbing to look at. Some aliasing can be found on the musical instruments, which are very constantly in motion and thus present a massive problem to any video system that is interlaced. The drum kit, the stage scaffolding, and even some of the instruments presented a real problem at times, not because the aliasing was especially bad, but more because it was quite frequently present. The fact that no film artefacts can be found in this transfer betrays the video heritage of this DVD set.
Both of these discs are RSDL formatted, with the layer change on disc one coming in at 38:58, and the layer change on disc two coming in at 53:42. The layer change on Disc One is particularly poorly handled, as it is right in the middle of a speech by James Hetfield, and is accompanied by an artificial fade to black. While I hate hearing this man speak more than I hate his incessant posing, this placement is far from acceptable, and a quick pause at the end of his speech would have been much preferred.
The music by Michael Kamen and his orchestra has one highlight, and one highlight only: the performance of Ennio Morricone's classic theme, The Ecstasy Of Gold. If there was any justice in the world, Morricone would be better known for this composition than the theme from The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly, as it is a much more meaningful piece of work. The rest of the music, all compositions by Metallica, or James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich with some occasional co-writing from Kirk Hammett and Cliff Burton, just clashes with this orchestra. The boring same-ness of the band's post-Master Of Puppets material hurts this collection, and hurts it very badly. If there is one thing that Metallica could learn from Michael Kamen, it's probably the fact that to make people want to listen to your music, regurgitation and mediocrity is not an option. Or maybe he'd just teach them to get their heads out of their rectums and stop trying so hard to be a third-rate Black Sabbath.
The surround presence in the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack was quite enveloping and aggressive, in spite of the distinctly boring information that was being poured through them. I've spoken with my speakers at great length about this and will have to make it up to them by playing Starship Troopers and Robocop through them several times at neighbour-deafening volumes. The dynamic feature of this soundtrack is that it does not shy away from placing musical sounds in the rear channels, although it is hardly one I would consider unique from my favourite music DVDs. Perhaps the best way to describe this soundtrack would be as a soundtrack that is trying to create life, emotion, and power where there was none to begin with. It puts up a brave fight against the fact that any real spark of emotion in Metallica's music was thoroughly extinguished in their move to corporate status, but is eventually overwhelmed by the manner in which it puts the more discerning listener like myself to sleep. I simply cannot wait for Sony Music Video to get around to releasing Type O Negative's After Dark home video so we can have a real example of music video that is symphonic by nature, not just to sell a few more copies of old, tired songs played in a lifeless manner. Peter Steele's voice coming out of my subwoofer would be quite a treat in and of itself in comparison to this programme. Speaking of the subwoofer, it was probably the most active part of the soundtrack, with constant pulses from the bass and drums rumbling through my floor. Again, I apologized to it and promised it that I would make it feel better by playing some actual music through it in order to wash the taste of a band that sells out its own fans out of its cones.
The video quality is very ordinary, but passable.
The audio quality is either very good if you just want to hear great encoding, or dreadful if you want something substantial and entertaining.
The extras, much like anything the band has put out in the last ten years, are rubbish.
|DVD||Grundig GDV 100 D, using composite output; Toshiba SD-2109, using S-video output|
|Display||Panasonic TC-29R20 (68 cm), 4:3 mode, using composite input; Samsung CS-823AMF (80 cm), 16:9 mode/4:3 mode, using composite and S-video inputs|
|Audio Decoder||Built In (Amplifier)|
|Speakers||Panasonic S-J1500D Front Speakers, Philips PH931SSS Rear Speakers, Philips FB206WC Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Subwoofer|