Metallica – The Eternal Bliss (Apocalypse Sound AS 159)

The Eternal Bliss (Apocalypse Sound AS 159)

NTSC, All Region, 117:17 minutes

“Taratata” France 4 TV Channel,  September 10, 2008; Broadcast date: October 15, 2008

 01. Intro;  02. The Day That Never Comes; 03. Interview; 04. Cyanide; 05. Enter Sandman; 06. Outro

PinkPop Festival , Landgraaf, The Netherlands, May 30, 2008

01. Creeping Death; 02. For Whom The Bell Tolls; 03. Ride The Lightning; 04. The Memory Remains; 05. Fade To Black; 06. Master Of Puppets; 07. Whiplash; 08. Nothing Else Matters;  09. Sad But True;10. One; 11. Enter Sandman; 12. Seek And Destroy

2008 could be considered a year of rebirth of sorts for Metallica. Their last album “St Anger”, while a commercial success selling over 6 million copies worldwide, was something of a disappointment to critics and hardcore fans alike who felt it was unfocused and lacking the power of earlier efforts. As a result no album was as highly anticipated then the band’s latest effort “Death Magnetic” which was released September 12, 2008. The new album, produced by Rick Rubin, was the hit they needed to restore their reputation. Pleasing critics and fans alike it reached number 1 on the charts in over 20 countries putting to rest any concerns that Metallica was in decline.

The video begins with a studio segment from the French TV with a small nonintrusive station id in the upper right hand corner of the picture. The Video is excellent quality filmed in wide screen format and looks like it was either a copy of the master tape or possibly taped right off a digital feed when broadcast. It so crisp and clear it could be confused for an official release. The only flaw can be seen when there is a flash of bright stage lights which causes a brief pixalization of the picture. I suspect this is the result of the use of a single layer DVD packing 117 minutes of video. This results is medium to low bit transfer rates which could be the cause of the pixelization. This is not distracting and the video is very enjoyable.

The Audio is as excellent as the video and is in perfectly balanced and claims to be Dolby Digital 5.1.  It sounded more like 5 channel stereo to me but it sounded great cranked up.

The performance starts with a French announcer introducing the band as they walk into the studio. The crowd is definitely excited to see the band and gives them a roaring welcome. This is a real contrast to the Euro TV in studio shows from the 70’s, like Rockpalast etc., I am used to watching which featured bands like Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Ted Nugent where the audience is very subdued and in a lot of cases doesn’t know what to make of the band cranking out the loud music in front of them!

The band proceeds to play two tracks off of the newly released “Death Magnetic” album with an interview sandwiched in between.  The band finishes with their signature song “Enter Sandman” which is followed by them taking their bows with the announcer thanking them for their efforts.

The band is very relaxed and tight on the new songs with an excellent raw sound which gives the guitars a nice bite. The performance and intimate surroundings makes me wish they played more songs as this segment is a very enjoyable watching experience.

The second segment is a proshot effort recorded at the PinkPop Festival in the Netherlands on May of 2008. This appears to have been shot for Dutch TV as there is a very discrete TV id logo in the upper right hand corner of the widescreen format picture and an occasional scrolling banner at the top of the screen in Dutch (?).

The 78 minute long video is incomplete with only 12 of the 18 songs played that day. The songs edited out of the video included “Four Horseman”, “Bleeding Me”, “And Justice for All”, “Devils Dance”, and two of the three encore songs “Last Caress (Misfits cover) and “So What” (Anti Nowhere League cover). There is also a possible small edit about 5 minutes into “Enter Sandman” as there is an abrupt noticeable transition change in the audio/ video.

The video quality is excellent and is near official release quality. Due to the near perfect quality I would speculate that this could also be a copy of the master or taped from a digital feed. The only minor flaw I could see was a very slight jitter to the images of the band members on close ups during fast motion. I speculate this could be the result of a conversion of the video from the European PAL video format to the North American NTSC format as I have seen this on other European sourced videos in different degrees of severity in the past. It also reminded me of the motion artifacts you see when watching an older big screen LCD TV. Since I watched this on a 31″ CRT TV I feel confident this is a function of the video and not my equipment. In any case it is subtle and I did not find it distracting and it did not effect my enjoyment of the video.

The audio claims to be Dolby 5.1 but is in fact an excellent stereo recording which sounds like a 5 channel stereo audio when in surround mode. It is perfectly balanced with slight low end warmth which adds a nice punch to the soundtrack. It makes you want to play it very loud!!

As for the performance the band is very tight and plays with high energy. They are cheered on by a very enthusiastic crowd which can be heard singing along with the many of the songs.  I am a big fan of  Metallica Black album so the three songs off of that release were highlights for me but I have to say I even enjoyed the more thrash oriented songs from the earlier albums the performance was that good. Another highlight was the intro to the song “One” which was a simulated battle soundtrack with machine guns blazing, flash pot explosions and aerial fire works set against a dark stadium which must have been amazing to see in person.

With the high quality video, audio and performance I would highly recommend this release as I think even the casual fan of Metallica would find it a very enjoyable watching experience.

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