Reviews : Videos: Napalm Death, "The DVD"

Napalm Death, "The DVD"

So, you're in the mood for two straight hours of Napalm Death but wish to keep the eyes occupied too, not just the ears? Lucky for you, the fellows at Earache records heard your impassioned cries for such a thing and came forth with Napalm Death, "The DVD." This is a pretty big thing here, clocking in at two hours and change, with all six promotional videos that Napalm Death did while on Earache, as well as two full live sets, and a brief set from the Lee Dorrian/Bill Steer/Shane Embury/Mick Harris lineup that brought us "From Enslavement to Obliteration." The lineup for the two full live sets is interesting. The first is taken from the Live Corruption home video that was realeased shortly after the "Harmony Corruption" album and still has Mick Harris on drums, with Barney Greenway on vocals, Shane Embury on bass and Mitch Harris and Jesse Pintado on guitar. The second set is from before "Harmony Corruption" and features the above lineup with the exception of Mitch Harris who would join Napalm Death shortly thereafter. Now, since this is gonna be a big review, I'm going to break it up the way it appears on the DVD itself.

First on the DVD are the six promotional videos that Napalm Death filmed while with Earache Records. The first on is "Mass Appeal Madness," which splices in clips of - for lack of a better term - 'Americana' with onstage footage of Napalm Death. Nothing all that interesting on the video itself, and it moves along rather slowly, to be honest. I'm not sure why this is, but the song feels way longer than the three or so minutes that it actually is. Second, is the video for the song "The World Keeps Turning." This is live Napalm footage combined with images of Russia taken while the band was touring there, it would seem. It appears to be something of a study of the transition of Russia from Communism to Capitalism, Stalin to Yeltsin. This one is more effective than than "Mass Appeal Madness," simply due to the fact that it does not drag along at all. Third, is the video for the song "Suffer The Children," probably their most well-known song. This interchanges live Napalm Death footage with images of churches, just to hammer home its anti-evangelical message. A nice looking video, and it moves along well with the song. The fourth video is for the song "Plague Rages." This one is kind of confused to me, splicing footage of Napalm Death playing, though it is not concert footage alongside what almost reminds me of a student film remake of "The Road Warrior." Just odd images of a thermonuclear wasteland along with Napalm Death in strobe. Overall, I can't love this video due to the fact that it does not make much sense. Fifth is the song "Greed Killing." I have to admit that is easily my least favorite Napalm Death song, so the odds of this review being nice are slim to none, and poor Slim just got shot. This is another odd one that has our favorite Birmingham boys in some kind of white observation room, being watched by a bunch of people who appear to have been auditioning for "The Matrix" years before it was made. Combine this with the fact that Barney has one of those very old style microphones that fit Napalm Death about as well as an pair of inverted spiked armlets fit a member of Marduk, and you have a recipe for nothing good. Last, though certainly not least, is the video for the song "Breed to Breathe." This is easily the best of the lot, even though it is not the best song of the six. This is concert footage spliced in with just crazy shit happening. Almost like a Faces of Death video set to music, it shows a man plunging from a burning building, rioting, shooting, car accident footage and enough general gore to make me think this was made by Bill Steer in his free time while recording "Symphonies of Sickness." This one just grabs you by the cojones and refuses to let go until you have been either horrified, revolted on amazed.

Now, on to the live footage. First is the concert that was immortalised in the Live Corruption home video. This is one VHS that is very near and dear to me. Simply put, this is how I discovered death metal. My brother owned it and one day in 1991 a friend of mine saw it on the bookcase in my living room and asked if we could watch it. I said sure why not. Everything changed that day and my world had just been fucked up evermore, in a good way. This is one of the better concert videos I have ever seen, up there with Slayer's "Live Intrusion." It splices in interviews with the band to break up the songs. I always like when it's not just straight concert footage and actually tries to give some insight on the band or the members of the band. Luckily for the DVD owner, for these segements there is a subtitle option, for those of you who cannot easily cut through a thick British accent. I am not making this next part up. One of these segments was of Mick Harris talking and I didn't figure out what the fuck he said for another eight years. The concert footage is quite good too, with songs from the first three albums. I also like it, since it has Mick Harris behind the drums. No offense to Danny Herrera, who has stepped in and done a wonderful job, but Harris is such a manaic behind the kit that he is worth the price of admission. It's also nice to see stagedivers, a species that has been extinct on these shores for several years now, as anyone trying this at any club will find himself removed from the stage, hauled off the the back to be sodomized by the bouncers. I felt like I was 15 again watching this one for the first time, that's how fucking into this I get.

The second live set is taken from a tour with Morbid Angel, Carcass and Bolt Thrower [insert long, psychotic rant about the injustice of all the good tours hitting Europe and then coming Stateside in some inferior, bastardized form]. The songs here are all from the first two albums, but they have the lineup of Embury, Mick Harris, Greenway and Pintado, Mitch Harris had yet to join up although his imminent addition was announced before the song "Deciever." He can also be spotted hanging on the side of the stage. It is interesting watching the four of them playing these songs with two new members. Needless to say they were getting in each others way all night not having the hang of playing together yet. Barney is especially odd to watch as he seems as if he has no idea what to do with himself. This is probably due to him trying to not fuck up the songs due to his newness to the material. It is fun to watch the madman to be unsure of himself onstage though. Mick Harris even did a lot of the between song talking as Barney was clearly uncomfortable with it at the time. You know me, I like to see bands in the embryonic stage. I know they had two albums out, but with so many lineup changes, this was a new band. The silliest thing on here, however, is the encore. It consists of four songs, "Seige of Power," "Dead," "You Suffer?" and "Deciever." It's not so much that I dislike encores, but all four of these songs had been played eariler in the set. There's encores, and then there's reruns. They do get points however for opening the song "Deciever" as a tribute to Repulsion, as the opening of "Deciever" had clearly been lifted from Repulsion's "The Stench Of Burning Death."

Now, for the easiest part of the review, the Steer/Dorrian era material, both songs of it. This is your basic live footage on an earlier incarnation of Napalm Death. Bill Steer had already gotten his tradmark down, just stand there immobile with hair over face like some kind of deathmetal Cousin It. Dorrian surprisingly doesn't get moving around all that much. I saw him jumping around more with Cathedral to be honest. However it is nice to see the early days of Napalm Death. If only they had some footage of the Justin Broadrick, Nik Bullen, Mick Harris lineup.

The DVD also contains a six page booklet written by Dan Tobin. The first paragraph has one of the greatest mistakes I have ever seen in metal. To quote the author himself. "Roll out such essential monickers as Slayer, Emperor, Death, Cannibal Corpse or Deicide and you'll see stares of vagueness and perplexion creeping across their faces. Then mention Napalm Death. "Oh, Napalm Death? I've heard of them!" they're likely to exclaim." Is this guy fucking kidding us, more well known than Slayer and Death, two of Napalm's clear influences? I've never seen Napalm Death in a arena, I've seen Slayer in a few, so you tell me who is more well known. Sorry, I'm a stickler for accuracy. Needless to say, the booklet is your basic propaganda, making sure to mention that they originate from Birmingham, just like Black Sabbath, another band who I am sure are not as well known as Napalm Death. From there it gives a straight history of the band and it's influence on the underground scene from their infancy to the present. The booklet isn't bad once you get past that irritating opening, though.

Overall, I would recommend this to any Napalm Death fan, unless of course you only like the pre-Greenway Napalm Death.