DVD Review: ANTHRAX Chile On Hell
September 12th marks the third anniversary of the most recent Anthrax album, Worship Music, so let’s hope this cherry on the cake – a new DVD documenting the band’s extended touring affectionately titled Chile on Hell – represents the final victory lap before the quintet head back into the studio.
As a live document, Chile on Hell is pretty standard issue stuff: professionally shot, multi-angled onstage footage interspersed with copious crowd shots and the occasional “tour diary” aside. As a witness to the tour behind the first Joey Belladonna-fronted album in over 20 years, however, Chile on Hell is something more entirely.
The disc is about as bare bones as can be; aside from the aforementioned tour snippets that interrupt for a couple minutes every 4-5 songs there are no extras whatsoever. This release gets by entirely on performance, but what a performance it is.
Truthfully Belladonna starts off a little rusty, hitting few high notes and sometimes struggling to keep up with the pace of the first few songs. It doesn’t take him long to find his sea legs, though, so by about the third track he’s in full swing, wailing with gusto and mugging shamelessly for the crowd (he makes numerous gestures indicating he’d like a joint, but when multiple joints start making their way to the stage he accepts them graciously before handing them off unlit to another random crowd member… perhaps he fancies himself the Robin Hood of kush?)
This tour stop finds the band honoring two albums, primarily: Worship Music (of course) but, even more so, Among the Living, probably the most revered of all the Anthrax records as far as the number of classic songs goes. In fact, the first FIVE tracks are culled from Among before the band crack the spine on any of their other tomes at all. These are the exact five that open the studio album in the same order, so if you’ve ever wanted to see the band perform Among the Living live in its entirety, this gets you pretty close (they add “Indians” a few more cuts down the line as well).
“The Devil You Know” is surprisingly omitted , but otherwise the other three Worship singles are represented: “Fight ‘Em Til You Can’t”, “I’m Alive”, and “In the End”, the latter poignantly dedicated to fallen metallions Dimebag and Ronnie James Dio. There are a few pleasant surprises on the back nine of the set, namely “Medusa”, “I’m the Man” and “In My World”, and the band closes out explosively with “Madhouse” and “Antisocial”. All in all a good set list energetically performed by a band that seems not at all fatigued by being well into a prolonged tour.
But the fans also deserve a lot of credit for keeping the band motivated. The Teatro Caupolican in Santiago was completely sold out on the night of May 10, 2013, and the wide-roving camera finds absolutely no trace of wallpaper scenesters with their arms folded in the back. These Chileans came to rage, and the boys in Anthrax oblige them accordingly. I know association football, a.k.a. “soccer”, is not widely popular in the US, but can’t we at least co-opt the “ole” chants? I’ve yet to hear any crowd interaction on domestic soil that works nearly as well with the anthemic nature of heavy metal.
Anyway, in spite of the desert of supplemental features here, Chile on Hell is still an essential document for fans of Belladonna-era Anthrax. It strikes a near-perfect balance between giving the fans what they want and not getting too predictable in the process. Plus, at $16.98 SRP the lack of bonus material was probably deliberate, in keeping the end product readily affordable (let’s face it: a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff that typically makes up the bonus stuff could have just as easily been dumped off on Youtube… we don’t necessarily need to see the gag reels and staged poop jokes in 1080p with 5.1 Surround). Considering you can probably score this for $15 or less at most discount outlets (Amazon, etc) Chile on Hell is just as recommended for passing fans as it is for the more hardcore followers.