Various Relapse Contamination Festival 2003

A double-disc DVD package containing some of the biggest names in today's underground extreme metal circuit showing their stuff live? Sounds like a good idea to me. This DVD captures the Contamination Fest's two-day Philadelphia stint in 2003 and now you can enjoy it at home. Of the ten bands that performed at the main venue of the fest, each get four songs, and highlights include a truly stunning performance from Neurosis (the only band to have their own director, of course), the always incredible Mastodon, a fun and raucous performance from Alabama Thunderpussy, Cephalic Carnage's brain-busting live acrobatics and Burnt by the Sun, who just plain rule. Pig Destroyer look a bit lost on that big stage but it only adds to their wonderful chaos. Bongzilla, however, are boring to watch (and to listen to) and while High on Fire may be the masters of the post-Iommi doom riff, they sound better in the studio. Today is the Day, on the other hand, kick my ass live, while on record they merely rub it the wrong way (uh, if you know what I mean). The Dillinger Escape Plan are just friggin' nuts; it's beautiful, except for when the new singer tries to emulate Mike Patton (when the band plays songs from their Irony Is A Dead scene collaboration) and he sounds like an annoying child. But his bellow is powerful. Bonus footage (as if three hours of live stuff isn't enough) includes two live songs each from Daylight Dies, 27, Dysrhythmia and Toronto's own the End, who played the fest's secondary venue. Interviews and backstage footage round off this wildly entertaining package. Perhaps the best metal DVD yet. (Relapse, www.relapse.com)