Reviewing the perfect concert: Anthrax - Chile on hell (2014)
Dear readers of my blog,
here comes my review of Anthrax' new DVD/BluRay release "Chile on hell" which is so far definitely my favourite release of the year. Enjoy!
Anthrax' "Chile On Hell" is not only the best live release so far this year but also the best show of the band that was captured by cameras and microphones. The Chilean crowd is simply out of this world. Right from the opening riffs of "Among The Living", the entire crowd is singing along to the melodies and lyrics of this track, is getting involved into a giant circle pit with some fans sitting on the shoulders of others and some devotees are even enlightening a big red Bengal fire. This incredible crowd never gets tired throughout the entire show and is celebrating classics, cover songs and new material alike. The enthusiastic admirers are contributing to several intense goosebump moments. It's incredible to hear them singing the entire pre-chorus and chorus of "Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.)" before the song even gets started, to watch them doing Dio's famous horns sign during the intense rendition of "In The End", to see them doing an unchained wardance to "Indians", to hear them yelling out the chorus with Joey Belladonna during "In My World", to see them doing a big mosh pit during the Slayer cover "Raining Blood" which was dedicated to late Jeff Hanneman who died only days before this show and finally to see them celebrating enthusiastically to the closing Trust cover "Antisocial". I've never ever seen such a great crowd as they even beat several one hundred thousand unchained Brazilians celebrating Iron Maiden on their "Rock In Rio" record. Every single fan seems to get involved in passionate and yet respectful hysteria for two unforgettable hours. I've never wished that much that I had been at a concert than when I first watched this.
It's not only the amazing crowd that makes this release so memorable. I've seen several Anthrax shows and while they always perform with passion, I've never seen them so vivid as on this output. The amazing crowd reactions must have been contagious. Joey Belladonna is doing one of his finest vocal performances in a long time. I was surprised how clean his voice sounds on this release and how he even hits the high notes while running around and interacting constantly with the crowd. Hands down, this man is a gifted front man and entertainer and this is why I'm so glad he's back with Anthrax as nobody else compares to him. Scott Ian is constantly jumping and running around with a big smile on his face. His angry backing vocals are extremely solid and he even hits some higher notes in the opening of "In My World" that impressed me quite a lot. In addition to this, his killer riffs are still performed with passion and precision. Frank Bello is walking, headbanging and dancing around the stage and never ever stands still. His extremely enthusiastic vocal performance during "I'm The Man" is absolutely contagious and his bass play is very powerful. Charlie Benante's drumming is as tight as it can be and still looks effortless because he is having so much fun on stage. He keeps smiling and making funny faces throughout the entire show. He even gets to play a short drum solo right before "I'm The Man". It's just long enough to show his great talent and short enough to get the crowd moving for the energizing encore. Fellow drummers, please take notes on this essential, precise and short performance as nobody wants to listen to drum solos over six minutes or so. New guitarist Jonathan Donais plays very well but looks a little bit shier and more introspective than the other members. He's got his own personality I guess but he slightly feels out of place. I guess he simply needs some more time with the band to get used to this new situation. From a purely technical point of view, his performance is spot on though.
The set list of this concert is phenomenal. It contains the three best songs from the band's amazing last effort "Worship Music", the greatest classics including the six thrash metal milestones that open the legendary "Among The Living" release and a bunch of amazing cover tracks from AC/DC, Joe Jackson, Slayer, Stormtroopers Of Death and Trust. Some people keep complaing about the high number of cover songs during Anthrax' shows. If you take a look at the incendiary crowd reactions to these tracks and the way Anthrax performs these renditions, you do realize why these guys are still including so many of them and I don't want to miss these tracks. Anthrax' cover tracks have always been amazing in my opinion. On a sidenote, the DVD version of this release seems to omit two tracks from the original concert which are the Joe Jackson cover "Got The Time" as well as "Deathrider". It's possible that these tracks are included on the BluRay release though as I've read other reviews where analysts would talk about these songs as well. If you can choose between both versions, you should go for the BluRay variant.
From time to time, the outstanding concert is interrupted by very short sequences showing other Anthrax shows, the band backstage, fellow musicians commenting on thirty years of Anthrax, fans praising the band or Scott Ian on the set of a TV show. A couple of snippets from the band's last studio album are played during these sequences, for example "The Devil You Know", "The Giant" and "Judas Priest". These breaks are very short and only about one to two minutes long each and really don't bother the enjoyment of the energizing concert at all. It would have been interesting if the band had included a little documentary about its career as a bonus but that's not the case and this release only focuses on the music and a few short additional gimmicks.
From a technical point of view, the sound is crystal clear and yet absolutely authentic. One can hear the crowd very well but the vocals and the instruments also sound very sharp. It's definitely an honest live release as one can still hear a couple of small technical mistakes here and there. The image is perfect as well but some people might not like several quick cuts, shaky camera passages when Joey Belladonna is running around with a camera on stage and a few split-screen passages. I think these little technical elements make the whole release even more diverting, energizing and original. These elements are not overused as on Iron Maiden's "Death On The Road" release for example. If these elements bother you, I guess you're really just nitpicking.
In the end, this concert and release come extremely close to perfection. If the DVD release had included the two missing tracks and if Jonathan Donais' performance had been a little bit more enthusiastic, I would have given the perfect score to this output. Still, this is an absolutely essential release for any Anthrax fan, any thrash metal maniac and anyone who cares about authentic, energizing and original rock or metal music in general. Believe me, you won't regret anything if you purchased this release as soon as you possibly can. For me, this is by far the best metal release in the year 2014 and already my very favourite live record ever. You may argue that I shouldn't judge this output shortly after its initial release but this is one of these few and special releases that simply blow you away from the very first second and I couldn't stop celebrating this masterpiece. If you listen and watch this release, just make sure you don't destroy your home by getting caught in a giant Chilean mosh.