DVD: The Big 4: Live From Sofia, Bulgaria

The Big 4: Live from Sofia, Bulgaria
(Warner Bros.)

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This DVD could have easily been entitled A Cold Day in Hell because you’d be hard pressed to find a metal-head who thought they’d ever see this concert happen. The drama between Dave Mustaine and Metallica is well-documented, as is the drama between Mustaine and Slayer. Fans of these four bands are in for a treat, as this is quite possibly the greatest single moment in metal history—the Big Four of American Thrash,$ all sharing the same stage for the first time.

If you’ve followed the careers of these four bands, you certainly know how monumental this event was. Almost thirty years down the road and with countless metal classics under their belts, these guys are still rocking.

This features full performances from each band as well as a behind-the-scenes documentary. Although this DVD could have been better if it included a featurette that details the history of each of the bands, it’s still pretty great.

In terms of individual performances, I would award Megadeth with the highest rating. They are incredibly tight, heavy as hell and, of all the vocalists, Dave Mustaine has retained his vocal abilities the best. Slayer is, as always, brilliantly brutal.  Metallica, regardless of the fact that they are not necessarily note-for-note-perfect, still put on a great show. Anthrax, the black sheep of the bunch, sounds great here with tons of energy and precision. Joey Belladonna struggles a little vocal-wise, but he’s still an awesome frontman and fun to watch.

The bread and butter of this release though is the Big Four Jam where Metallica has members from all bands join them on stage for their rendition of the Diamond Head classic, “Am I Evil?” Not only is it surreal and magical to see Dave Mustaine sharing a stage again with his long lost Metallica band mates, it’s downright faint-inducing to see Mustaine give Metallica lead guitarist Kirk Hammett—a man he has openly hated and bashed for years for “stealing” his position in Metallica—a big, warm hug.

The Big Four: Live from Sofia, Bulgaria should find a spot in the home of any metal fan that realizes just how important this show was for heavy music and that we’re all just part of one big, head-banging family.

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