The Big Four: Live from Sofia, Bulgaria
Label: Universal Music Group
Reviewer: Mujtaba M Badr - 2012-08-01
Highlights: Most of the show was amazing
Naturally , as any reviewer upon starting start his review, I would want to tease the reader forcing him to continue reading until the end not and not just jump to the rating, but I will not do that here In order to get you to go out now and get your hands on The Big 4 Live from Sofia, Bulgaria DVD no matter how or what. Because this is THE mast-have piece of shit for any metalhead in general, thrashers in specific, and it is the best way to waste five to six hours (if you count the documentary) of your life.
You are still reading?! Damn! How stubborn are you? It seems I need to do a full review for people like you!
2010 was a bad year in heavy metal history; the loss of Ronnie James Dio alone is enough to enable it to get that title. But life goes on, and so does the metal world. With the Big 4 confirming 2010’s early rumors of the Big 4 kind-of-mini-tour across Europe, an event that the majority of heavy metal fans wanted to see happening for years now and now it did. I believe 2010 was the best year for such a historical event to happen. You might ask the reason why? Well, meet me at the end of this review.
First of all, I'd have to admit, this was my first time to see them live, and I regret it. Because it was one of the most energetic shows I ever had seen; Scott Ian and Frank Bello are two insane individuals jumping around the stage with a guitar and bass, respectively, Charlie Benante is a monster behind the drums, and proves my initial beliefs based on the studio albums, that he is one of the best drummers in the metal history.
Most debate and backlashing about Anthrax was the vocalist change-drama before all this Big 4 thing happened. I know there are many people out their bitching that John Bush is a better vocalist for Thrashing, but I believe Joey Belladonna return was what Anthrax needed, because simply he was the one who helped to put Anthrax among the Big 4 back in the 80’s.
The set-list was full of classical Anthrax hits; "Caught in a Mosh", "Madhouse" and "Antisocial" among others, but the highlight of it, was the “Indians” performance, which contain a tribute for RJ DIO by embedding his classic “Heaven & Hell” in the middle. Another highlight, was the performance of “Only”, a fan favorite from the Bush era, it was unexpected to see Mr. Belladona do it live, since the large difference in the vocal abilities between the two, but he managed to give a good performance of it.
With their advantage of having a separate vocalist, Anthrax gave an incredible show keeping the fans in “mosh” and making a memorable moment of their own history.
One of the main reasons enabling the Big 4 shows to happen is Dave Mustaine, ‘cause if he didn’t go through his “personality change” experience I wouldn’t believe that he may accept to share the stage with Metallica, James Hetfield in particular, once again. But it seems the theory that says people may change works sometimes!
Another good thing to have happened to Megadeth is the return of Dave Ellefson to the Megadeth hangar. It would be very lame to see the band play with only Mustaine from the Big 4 golden era's line-up. But with Ellefson's return, Megadeth looked like close to the top of their form, sure if you put Dave's vocals let downs aside. The set-list was for sure full of classics and fan favorites, like "Holy Wars”, "Peace Sells" & "Symphony of Destruction", plus the lead single of their latest album “Head Crusher” as the only song from their recent material.
Megadeth's performance was straight forward, no much highlights except the music itself that kept the crowds fueled regardless the rain that started to fall just when they took the stage.
Slayer have always been the band who had its own different ego and cult following than any another Big 4 band, or another metal band in general, and this DVD ain't gonna make this picture change. They were the proudest of bands regarding their recent material, kicked off with “World Painted Blood” succeeded by “Jihad” and later “Beauty Through Order" & "Disciple", that in addition the regular Slayer live stables, “Angel of Death”, “Raining Blood”. Slayer gave the best anthological set list of all the other bands on the bill And don’t forget, they are the only band with their full original line-up.
Still, I expected a better show; there was something missing, maybe Tom Araya's injury that prevent him from headbanging. Yet, he continues his cool presence with couple Bulgarian speeches to tease the Bulgarian fans out there.
Here comes the monster!
I know that the majority of the underground metal community is just bitching about how Metallica sold out, and turned into a mainstream and greedy band. But since the mid of 2000’s, after the wake up from the St. Anger downward spiral, the band returned to its best shape since the mid 80’s, and this DVD is just another proof of that, because as a Metallica fan who had seen a lot of Metallica live shows, this one was of their best. You really feel that they are playing and they literally enjoy what they are doing, something that Megadeth and Slayer shows lacked a little.
Beside the advantage of having a full two hours show as the main headliner, their show fueled with the fancy stuff, big screen for the stage background, fireworks and all the regular “One” stuff.
The set-list is yet another thing that shall keeps Metallica fans' eyes open, because it is one of the best Metallica set-lists to have almost all the fans' favorites; the old three so-called-ballads “Fade to Black”, “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” and “One”, in addition to classics like “Creeping Death” and “Master of Puppets”. Recent materials were limited to three songs from “Death Magnetic” for sure, with “All Nightmare Long” being the best one.
The highlight of their show, is of course, the video that already everybody seen, the “Am I Evil?” performance with all the Big 4 contributing. Such a historical moment.
In addition to the five hour live show material, there is an hour long behind the stage documentary that chronicles each band before and after they get in the stage. It had lot of funny moments, and historical ones like the one when James goes to Slayer dressing room, Mustaine and Ulrich meeting, although the most important one, the one that everyone wanted to see it, is not out there, James meeting Dave. Damn!
The DVDs come with very simple, straight forward production, there are no “risky choices” in the designs or the art direction nor in the menus, neither the show itself. It's like the producers bet on the heaviness of the Big 4 names to attract the buyers, and for that there is no extra DVD bonus material beside the documentary just four shows, five hours with options to play them all at once, each band alone or picking song by song.
So, as I told you in the beginning this a piece of history, a must have DVD, each band here is at their best moments since the 80’s, go and buy this DVD as soon as possible, or you may download it if you are sure Lars Ulrich will not “Hunt you down without mercy ... Hunt you down All Nightmare Long”.
Rating: 9/10, everything here is perfect or near perfect, the songs that been played and how it been played, yet in some moments it could be better than what we have. Sound and video is recording is above perfect for sure, but as I said it was done in very safe and straight forward.