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Live Shit: Binge & Purge (CD & DVD)

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★★★★½
(172 Reviews)

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  • I’d missed out on the chance to see Metallica live during this tour in support of the band’s eponymous ‘Black Album’, so Live Sh*t: Binge & Purge is probably the closest I’ll come.This former boxed set is now available in two formats — a double-CD case and a DVD-style longbox. As far as I can tell from their descriptions, the contents are the same, and typical of Metallica, they give you loads of material for a pretty good price — three live CDs and two concert DVDs for only a little more than the price of two DVD movies.The good points:- The three live CDs span a broad range of songs from the band’s history, rather than obsessively focusing on the Black Album.- The sound quality of the CDs is quite good.- The performances, especially James Hetfield’s vocals and rhythm guitar, are searing.- The DVD concerts are pretty well shot, if a little bit rough on the editing front. I’d always had reservations about getting this set because I was worried the concert footage would wear thin very quickly, but the band’s fiery performances, the inventive staging (such as when Lars Ulrich runs across the stage in the middle of “The Four Horsemen” and jumps onto another kit at the other end) and multiple cameras helped make the viewing experience engaging.The bad points:- No booklet. I think they should have made the package a little bigger, a small boxed set, and included the booklet.- The sound on the DVDs is horrible. I’ve never heard a professional music-DVD release with so many volume fluctuations and bad sound cuts. It’s like listening to a live CD with the engineer whipping the faders up and down for no reason. The vocals are muddy, the lead guitar mixed too far back, and all of the tracks on the DVD sound like they have foam in front of the speakers.- The format I’d bought, the double-CD case, is just not enough to hold five discs. They should have designed a special Digipak, or used three double-CD jewel cases.- The live CD contains far, far too much crowd noise, banter and moments of waiting for the music. In a concert setting this might be okay, but as a listening experience, it’s dreary to listen to a solid minute and a half of war sound effects before “One” can begin. They should have been more diligent with editing.- No bonus materials. The videos from the Black Album, and especially the legendary music video for “One”, would have made very enticing bonus materials for this set.Despite its shortcomings, this was the last major official release from Metallica before it entered its bitterly contested ‘Load/Reload’ phase, so as a document of the band’s history, this set is invaluable.

    Posted on December 14, 2009