In a world of mergers, acquisitions, and corporate rape, Metal Blade Records continues to stand tall as a label with credibility, independence, and a truly customer-oriented staff. One can debate some of the albums they've released over the years, but one could say that about most labels. That the label has managed to sign quality bands that can appeal to a wider commercial audience (e.g. AS I LAY DYING) and continue to release albums by stalwarts like CANNIBAL CORPSE, VADER, BRAINSTORM, and GOD DETHRONED not only offers diversity, but is also essential to the label's survival. During the bonus segment of this DVD, folks like Joey Vera, the members of METALLICA, Scott Ian, George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher, Alex Webster, Ben Falgoust, and a host of others pay tribute to Metal Blade at the New England Metal and Hardcore Festival at which these 28 performance clips were captured. It is a very interesting segment, which also includes insightful commentary from founder/owner Brian Slagel, and one that gives an indication of the label's importance to heavy music for the past 25 years.
Working backwards, it is obvious that the bonus material on this 132-minute disc is well worth watching, but it is of course the live performances that make the release worth purchasing. The camera work is good, as is the lightning, and the sound is more than acceptable, although I've heard better. Pretty much every performance is exceptional and offers the viewer a nice cross section of the label's artists. Somewhat surprisingly, the clips flow together nicely too, even going from prog sensations 3 to the mighty GOATWHORE ("Alchemy of the Black Sun Cult" always kills live) and from LIZZY BORDEN to JOB FOR A COWBOY. Speaking of old timer BORDEN, the performance of "Psychopath" features a stunning, well built dancer who the front man commences toâ€¦well, you'll just have to see it. Watching HALLOW'S EVE play "Speed Freak" is a trip down memory lane for those pining for '80s nostalgia. In addition to GOATWHORE, I found the performances by CANNIBAL CORPSE, THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER, and DEMIRICIOUS the most satisfying from the standpoint of sonic malevolence. Fortunately, there is a lot from which to choose if these three acts don't happen to be your cup of tea.
In the final analysis, this is one of the more enjoyable music DVDs I've seen in a while. It may even get some additional playing time down the road, which is something I can't always say. So here is to another 25 years of Metal Blade heavy metal.