There’s nothing like seeing your favorite band live. The energy, the sound, the vibe, and in some cases the smell makes it all. Sometimes that live feeling translates the video and sometimes it doesn’t (minus the smell until we get smellivsion). All too often you get great camera angles with a horrible sound mix or the reverse. Then you get the ones that capture it right like the newest live DVD from Anthrax entitled Kings Among Scotland filmed in 2017 at Barrowland Ballroom in Glasgow, Scotland.
I’ve been privileged enough to see Anthrax live many times once I was able to afford to go to shows. Anthrax is a band that never disappoints me in their live show. Even Chile On Hell captured their Worship Music tour perfectly. But unfortunately I haven’t seen Anthrax live since For All Kings was released so this was my first shot at seeing Anthrax live with some new tunes. Needless to say it has eased my angst of missing them live recently.
From the opening riffs of “A.I.R.” to open the show it felt right. The crowd perfectly mixed in where neither them nor the music overpowers the other without taking away from the live feel. You couldn’t almost feel your adrenaline level rise and I caught myself at least once going “remember your home in your PJs” even though the whole apartment knew what I was watching.
As it progresses through the show I was pleased to see the right rhythm used in the camera shots. We all know thrash is fast and with video you try to use beats to change angles for a smooth visual which often means too many changes. But not on Kings Among Scotland as Paul Green has found that smooth transition. Every angle feels natural, even the on stage side shots which usually feel forced slide in seamlessly making you feel like you snuck on stage for a brief second before being whisked back to the audience to get your face and ears melted off.
I also need to commend Paul Green on his camera placement for Charlie Benante’s drum kit as the best angles I’ve seen yet of a drummer in a live DVD or BluRay. Placing one camera in the front off to the right side of Charlie’s kit instead of dead center let’s you see what he’s doing and not just his face focusing on what he’s doing. Plus the camera over his right shoulder does the same thing while also letting you get a glimpse of his view. Too many of these new directors do and overhead down view of the drums that feel very unnatural. The over the shoulder view should become the standard for filming drummers during a live show.
Getting back to the music side of things, the Among The Kings Tour that this was filmed during is a mix of classic Anthrax with new tunes live from For All Kings with the second half celebrating the 30th Anniversary of their 1987 album Among The Living played in its entirety. The classic stuff of course sounded amazing. “Madhouse” and “Medusa” sounded just as I know them to sound. But of the three songs taken from For All Kings the truth is “Blood Eagle Wings” fell flat for me. There’s an effect used on the album version that didn’t make its translation live and it takes something away from one of my favorites on their latest album. It’s still strong live but that missing effect just takes that something special out of it.
Then there’s the live beginning to end version of Among The Living. This is something I was screaming for back in 2013 when Anthrax did the same thing to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the album on the Metal Alliance Tour which I saw. I remember leaving Irving Plaza in April of 2013 thinking how killer would a live recording of Among The Living be (not knowing at the time it was done in 2009 on a deluxe rerelease of the album). Sure we hear the majority of the songs from Among The Living whenever Anthrax plays live because six songs have become hits but to hear “A Skeleton In The Closet” live and “One World” just reminds you how rare it is to have an album that a band can in fact play from beginning to end without skipping a beat or it sounding dated. The only difference between the album version to this live version is Jonathan Donais is on guitar instead of Dan Spitz. Besides that this is a great translation of studio to live and how timeless the music truly is.
Also don’t stop with just the live show. With the DVD you get a second disc that features two cool and brief documentaries. One that documents the tour and shows a brief look into their lives on the road with the other being a documentary on the gear the band uses. While my disability doesn’t allow me to play and instrument I still drool over a great looking and sounding guitar.
My only problem with Kings Among Scotland is as a fan you need to decide on DVD version or CD version. There’s no combo version which surprises me with how so many bands make a point to provide both. Dimmu Borgir, Accept, Motörhead, and Nightwish are just a few of the bands in the last few years to provide an affordable combo for fans, like me, who enjoy listening to a live album when on the go or the option the watch it. Sure buying both separately is possible but it’s so much nicer to have everything together in one place.
Aside from that there’s no question that Kings Among Scotland captured Anthrax perfectly on their Among The Kings Tour and shows that they aren’t slowing down.