Whilst other record labels are out scratching their nuts and trying to figure out how to beat the downloaders and make a fresh pile of cash while they’re at it, other labels have got their shit together and are producing decent quality products for music fans to buy at a price that doesn’t constitute a violation. With a fair range of decent box sets already out there, Earache have been doing a grand job lately at bringing their extensive and often brilliant back catalogue to the masses at a fair price, something never more obvious than here with a brilliant value DVD box set retailing at under a tenner.
So what do you get for your hard earned? Well death metal and thrash fans are in for a treat as the ‘maximum metal’ DVD collection features four of Earache’s finest bands unleashing hell in the live environment – four DVDs, over four hours of metal and the damn things are properly packaged too – no cheap ass card or mini cases here… you even get a few extras thrown in for good measure, making sure every last drop of quality is squeezed from the set.
First up in the collection is Deicide who win best DVD award with a well filmed set shot in L.A and featuring guest appearances from members of Cannibal Corpse, two promo videos (‘Homage for Satan’ and ‘Desecration’) and an interview. It’s a brilliant reminder of the potent fury of Deicide and with clean sound bringing Glen Benton’s terrifying vocals to the fore, and multiple camera angles this is a lesson in how death metal DVDs should be done. The only slight niggle is the hyperactive editing which rarely focuses in on what you’d expect (guitar solo? No problem, let’s focus in on Glen Benton’s face for a while!) but when you consider the overall quality, particularly of that all-important audio mix, so often neglected on death metal releases, then it seems churlish to dwell on it. What you have, in any event, are 19 fantastic tracks ranging across Deicide’s history, filmed during the band’s ‘Stench of redemption’ tour and that’s just the start!
Next up is At the gates with their excellent ‘Purgatory Unleashed, live at Wacken 08’, a professionally filmed and quite enthralling reminder of At the Gates’ phenomenal power. With eighteen tracks on offer (not including the intro), a pristine sound mix and a furious reminder of the band’s acclaimed reunion tour, this is an essential addition to any At the gates fan’s collection (although fans should be advised that ‘Purgatory unleashed’ also features as the second disc of the three disc ‘the flames of the end’ set before they get all excited). Nonetheless for those without this excellent concert, the energy and enthusiasm of a band who had clearly been unaware quite how far-reaching their appeal had become, the ‘slaughter of the soul’ weighted set list and the rapturous response of the crowd is enough to bring tears to the eyes of anyone who missed this unique band during their tour and an apt reminder for those who were there.
The third disc in the set is a thrashfest of insane proportions. Municipal Waste, live in Richmond 2006 (previously a bonus disc to ‘Hazardous Mutation’) captures the atmosphere, sweat and insanity of a Municipal Waste gig. Strangely, for a gig that looks like it was filmed by a roadie standing in the centre of a whirling pool of metal-crazed moshers, the sound is uniformly excellent begging the question of why Earache manage this thing so well when major labels continue to churn out dross. Nonetheless visually this is not the most inspiring DVD and so will probably warrant fewer returns than the magnificent efforts from Deicide and At the gates.
The final disk in this set is a stand out set from the kings of death metal, Morbid Angel. Considering the DVD documents the band on stage in 1989, the quality has held up remarkably well with the sound and picture faring remarkably well, whilst the band, captured during the ‘Altars of madness’ tour sound utterly blistering. The disc previously appeared as part of a dual disc set with the aforementioned album, but here as a stand alone it loses none of its power and if you missed out the first time round, there’s nothing quite like seeing David Vincent and Trey Azagthoth ripping the hell out of furious tracks such as ‘suffocation’, ‘Damnation’ and ‘Blasphemy’ – indeed, the overriding feeling while watching this intense performance is of nostalgia and it’s forty-odd minute run-time feels far too short.
Overall you cannot, in any way, fault this box set. It’s a brilliantly priced and generous gesture from Earache and a set that no serious metal fan can do without. Highlights are certainly the At the gates and Deicide but there are no weak points as such (unless you’re not fond of one of the bands) with all of the DVDs offering great representations of the bands in the live arena.