Meshuggah - Alive (DVD) - Nuclear Blast/Riot

Chances if you are a fan of the legendary Swedish metal quintet Meshuggah, you have been waiting anxiously for a DVD release for some time. Well, your patience has finally been rewarded in the latest release Alive.

In today's music scene, many bands are putting out live DVD releases and can be some what of a highly financial and time consuming project for a band to undertake.

Meshuggah's Alive is comprised of some pretty awesomely executed cuts from their Obzen tour on their Japanese, US and Canadian stops, including old-school choices such as New Millenium Cyanide Christ, Perpetual Black Second, Rational Gaze, Stengah and Straws Pulled At Random,alongside material from Obzen, such as the purely insane mindbender Bleed, Combustion, Electric Red, Pravus and Lethargica.

The band are in fine form, from guitarists Fredrik Thordendal and Marten Hagstrom's 8-string rhythms and psycho lead work, bassist Dick Lovgren's clanky low end, drummer Tomas Haake's drum wizardy and Jens Kidman's throaty shouting and funny stage moves. You have to see it for yourself, it really shows the band at their tighest on tour.

From a visual standpoint, the live footage is quite impressive; however, it can be quite dark and the strobe lighting is ever-present. In comparison to many live DVDs, though, the editing is quite a bit slower, and doesn't bounce from shot to shot in a millisecond. The split screen shots of solos and drum work et al will definately please the musical minded fans.

The audio is a standard two-channel stereo mix, but it still crushes with every drum hit, every chuggy riff, and that trademark clanky bass sound (that most think is actually the guitars...).

In between the songs, there is behind the scenes footage of the band and their crew on the road which shows them just being human and getting on with the daily chores of a touring machine.

The extras on Alive are pretty basic but still quite interesting. First up is the eerie video clip for their song Bleed and an eight-minute featurette on the making of the Bleed video. The Meshuggah gear nuts are treated to very brief tours of the guitar and drum worlds respectively; if you aren't interested in that stuff, it probably will bore you to death. Gear nerds will love it, but the briefness of the overview may leave them wanting a little bit more.

There is also a bonus CD of the live songs included in the package for your car or iPod which is a nice bonus.

As excellent as Alive is, it has a few little things that could have made it better. The first is the absence of a 5.1 surround sound audio track; this would have really brought the true live feeling a bit closer to the viewer. Another is the absence of subtitles when the band speaks Swedish in the backstage footage; although it only happens rarely, the non-Swedish viewer may feel like he or she is missing out on something. The two last biggest things that work against Alive are the backstage footage being inserted between the songs. As enjoyable as the backstage footage is, it seems to take away from the concert's continuity (even if some of the songs are from different shows), a concert- or documentary-only option in the menu may have been a good idea. Also, the absence of Future Breed Machine from the set, that would be like say, Motorhead omitting Overkill from their set, it just seems like a tiny piece of the puzzle is missing.

Despite the few flaws, Alive is a pretty damn solid package for the Meshuggah fan. If you pray at the band's feet, stop reading this review and go buy the DVD now! Who am I kidding? You would probably have it right now and would not really care what I said. Casual fans and interested parties should check this out, but it might take a few views to fully soak it all in and enjoy the insanity that is Meshuggah.

Meshuggah's Alive DVD is out now through Nuclear Blast/Riot.