Live music has effectively been put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, leaving a gaping hole in the lives of metalheads worldwide. Because of its visceral nature and sheer volume, metal is best experienced in the concert setting. The quaking vibrations of the drums, the ear shattering feedback from the amplifiers, the thrill of headbanging next to your fellow hasher: These sensations can’t be emulated.
But the sad truth is that most of us won’t be going to a show anytime soon. Therefore, we must fill our yearning with the next best thing, whether it be livestream performances or concert films. We must bring the live show into our living spaces. Heavy Consequence takes a look back at some of the greatest metal concert films in an effort to curb our withdrawals. So crack a cold one, crank your home stereo, settle in, and enjoy some classic concerts from the confines of your living room.
10. Type O Negative – Symphony for the Devil
Release Date: February 24th, 2006
Why It Matters: Symphony for the Devil intersperses debauched home-movie clips of Type O Negative on the road with footage from their legendary performance at the Bizarre Festival in 1999. Wry, sarcastic, and musically magnanimous, the film is the defining visual document of the gothic metal luminaries. The late Peter Steele assumes the stature of a vampiric god, looming centerstage as he guides the band through a setlist of hits. If you needed further proof of Steele’s otherworldliness, observe the full bottles of wine he pulls from between songs, the empty decanters piling up on his bass cab throughout the set. Buy the DVD here.
09. Rammstein – Live aus Berlin
Release Date: August 31st, 1999 (original) / March 27th, 2020 (reissue)
Why It Matters: A young and hungry Rammstein tear through this concert in their home city of Berlin. Even in their early years — before “Du Hast” took the world by storm — the band exercised a penchant for provocative showmanship and shitloads of pyrotechnics. For example, the infamous water dildo scene during “Bück dich” that was censored in the original VHS release, notching the film an 18+ rating. Using the massive aquatic sex toy, frontman Till Lindemann and keyboardist Christian Lorenz mime anal sex (the same stunt that resulted in jail time after a 1999 show in Massachusetts). Over two decades since these ornery antics, the German band has become an industrial metal institution and Lindemann is still obsessed with all things sexual. And to the delight of all fans, the dildo scene has finally been uncensored for a new DVD reissue of Live aus Berlin (available via Rammstein’s webstore).
08. Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, Anthrax – The Big Four: Live from Sofia, Bulgaria
Release Date: November 2nd, 2010
Why It Matters: On June 22nd, 2010, everything aligned. The first “Big Four” show remains a miracle of music industry might. Somehow, all four thrash bands were assembled for one legendary night in Bulgaria. The beef between Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine and his former bandmates in Metallica was put aside. Embracing their mutual status as the quadrangle of thrash, each band delivers an impassioned performance. Perhaps they were motivated by friendly competition; there’s a sense of urgency and expectation during each set. You can’t get much better than Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, and Anthrax playing their hearts out to low-key best one another. The true winners are all of us who get to watch this spectacle and travel to thrashland whenever we so choose. Buy the DVD here.
07. Opeth – Lamentations: Live at Shepherd’s Bush Empire
Release Date: November 24th, 2003
Why It Matters: Opeth are a band of many faces. They began as traditional death metal, then pivoted to prog, with subsequent albums moving further from their extreme metal origins. This film falls just past this crossroads, following the release of Damnation, when Mikael Åkerfeldt began to sing even more than he growled. The results are captivating, with cinematography as elegant as the music itself. Opeth practice perfection and exploration, and this footage lets us into their world both visually and sonically. The true essence of a good concert film — like any good show — is its sense of escapism. Opeth turn in an everlasting document of their 2003 selves. Purchase it on DVD here.
06. Judas Priest – Live Vengeance ’82
Release Date: 1983
Why It Matters: Judas Priest’s 1982 US tour: You can’t get more metal than this. Fresh off the release of Screaming for Vengeance, the set is laden with hits such as “Breaking the Law” and “You Got Another Thing Comin'”. The metal god Rob Halford patrols the stage flanked by guitarists K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton as they shred their asses off. So much of heavy metal’s imagery and substance derives from Judas Priest and footage from this era, particularly Live Vengeance ’81 (which was originally released on VHS as Judas Priest Live). The leather, the studs, the virtuosity — the path was paved. Get it on DVD here.