Sound — 9
Bullet For My Valentine has released a DVD the way it should always be done -- complete with a live performance, music videos, and behind-the-scenes footage. If there was any music DVD that could leave fans pleased, Bullet's The Poison: Live At Brixton would probably be the one. While there are a few areas that could have been improved, the band succeeds in the most important department: delivering a solid, memorable metal show. Filmed at London's Carling Academy Brixton on January 28, 2006, The Poison features a thorough set of the band's hits and runs about 140 minutes. Until you've seen Bullet live, you might not grasp how truly talented the Welsh band is. Each of the 13 songs in the live set features riffs that bring to mind Iron Maiden classics and solos that should make pretty much anyone want to learn how to play guitar. From the first solo in The Voice Resides, you're instantly put in awe at vocalist/guitarist Matthew Tuck's skills. Combining an infectious melody with a bit of tapping, Tuck executes every solo flawlessly. There are so many other notable moments in the set, it's hard to pick one out of the bunch. For example, in the opening of one song, Tuck surprises the Brixton audience with the news that it will be part of an upcoming DVD. The crowd goes wild and you instantly feel like you're a part of the show at that moment. Another memorable section comes toward the end of Cries In Vain in which guitarists Tuck and Michael Paget release a dead-on guitar harmony for the breakdown. The mosh pit goes in full motion and it's just a beautiful scene. The only area that could have been improved upon was the mixing of the vocals. When Tuck sings -- not screams -- over the distorted guitars, they tend to get swallowed up just a bit. There is no problem at all when the softer, cleaner guitars come into the picture, however, or even when he screams over the distortion. It should be said that the music is so powerful that even a slight mixing problem doesn't really throw the show off at all. If fans haven't seen Bullet live yet, the DVD comes in a close second to the real thing.
Content — 10
Although the show at Brixton is the must-see portion of the DVD, there are still plenty of other highlights. The Poison also features 5 videos, including Hand Of Blood, 4 Words (To Choke Upon), and Tears Don't Fall. It's nice to see a band include music videos on the same DVD with it's live show rather than just wait 6 months to cash in on another DVD. There is a section called Documentaries/EPKS, which you might presume is more of a biography or day-in-the-life of the band. While you might be able to call it behind-the-scenes, there is little information that is revealed along the way. It's more of a videography, with music playing over the various scenes showing the band. You'll get to see Bullet take photos with fans and sitting down for interviews, but little is said. A few snippets from interviews are edited into the mix, but we're talking very, very few words. While it is somewhat of a disappointment, Bullet has still taken a lot of effort to put together a variety of bonus material. The final extra comes in the form of Bullet TV, which is basically more behind-the-scenes footage. This time around, however, the band is given their own cameras to videotape nights on the town, adoring fans, and themselves getting extremely wasted. It's an amusing addition to the DVD and fans should find it entertaining.
Production Quality — 8
The one major issue with The Poison is the footage of the Brixton concert. While there were plenty of different camera angles used and the most of the guitar solos were given full attention, there were other times when intense moments onstage were just ignored. Instead, a camera at the very back of the concert hall shot the light show seen if you were in the back row -- and you couldn't even see the little figures of the band when this happened. Time and time again this happened at the last 5 to 10 seconds of the song, a time when a lot of people might want to see that final smash of a drumhead or strum of a guitar. At other times, poor bassist/vocalist Jason James could only be seen as a fuzzy image during his screaming parts. The same thing happened to Tuck in one song as well, and it just is more distracting than anything. In the end it didn't ruin the performance, but just a little tweaking of the cameras could have made it a perfect live show for home viewers.
Overall Impression — 9
Bullet For My Valentine has been one of the leaders in resurrecting guitar solos, and it's fantastic to see some of that shredding live onstage. Fans will not be disappointed by The Poison: Live At Brixton, particularly if they missed seeing solos up-close and personal at previous concerts. Even though the cameras were not always on mark, they did give great attention to the solos. As DVDs go, The Poison draws you in pretty quickly and features a solid set of technical and likeable songs -- a killer combination. If you're not such much into the metalcore-screaming genre, fear not. The guitars are so vibrant on the DVD that you'll be able forgive the voices easily. And that's talent for you.