Tuesday, October 4, 2011

DVD Review: Malevolent Creation: Death from Down Under

Text © Robert Barry Francos/FFanzeen, 2011
Images from the Internet

Malevolent Creation: Death from Down Under
Live at the Gaelic Theatre, Sidney, Australia, March 17, 2009
Produced by Doug Dalton / Hardline Media
Arctic Music Group, 2011
60 minutes, USD $15.95
Hardlinemedia.net (no longer in service?)

Malevolent Creation – a great name, by the way – is old school death metal. The band, in various formations, have been around for over 20 years, starting its – er – creation in Buffalo, NY, and then gaining fame after hailing it down to Florida, apparently a death metal hub, for some reason.

Three of the present members have been connected to the band, on and off, for most of the time it has been in existence, and the other two are relatively new at a couple of years or so. Note that this is the info about the band when this DVD was shot in Australia, March 17, 2009.

There is something humorous about death metal to me, in a similar way as the hardcore punk subgenre screamo. And just what is death metal? Well, this generalization definition is not meant as disrespect: it seems to be a variation of heavy metal played slow and grinding, with musicians baring long head and facial hair (usually combed out, like a clean motorcycle gang, though sometimes held with a rubber band… sounds just a bit like Lou Albano, now that I think of it) which is often swung around in rhythm with the music, if not in group harmony), jean and leather clothing (including wrist bands), lots of tatts, far apart leg stance, and most importantly, that growling voice. Songs are usually about the macabre, but in much less romantic terms than Goth, even though topics occasionally overlap.

On a worldwide tour with focus on East Asia and the South Pacific, they decided to document a show at the Gaelic Theatre, in Sydney, Australia’s most populated city. With a capacity of 800, the theatre is small enough to give the DVD audience the feeling of intimacy of a small club, but it has enough room for the four cameras to catch everything. It’s all edited together into nice rhythm.

I’ve read some reviews that complain about how “amateurish” the video comes across. Look, I don’t have a problem with it here. Death metal shows, I’ve learned, are often filmed in the dark, or with minimal lighting, so the fact that you can see the band at all apparently is a plus, don’t you think? The group doesn’t as much rush about the stage, but rather plays king of the hill and domineer it with sheer force of sound, which is sharp, even if one who is uninitiated in the genre can make out barely a word. Still, getting a chance to see and hear an entire set is definitely a bonus, especially when dealing with a band that has a rep as strong as this one.

From what I understand, this gig relies heavily on material from the early parts of the band’s career, which is probably a big asset to those who have been following the group for a while but never had the chance to hear them play their stuff on stage from way back. From the slow grinding opening cut of “Memorial Arrangements” through the various slogging speeds of other numbers, which also gnash, by the way, the heavy gears of their sound crunch together into a volume of pounding rhythms.

There are four extras in the special features area. One is “On the Road,” which is b-roll clips of the band on stage, the road ahead from the transport (van?) window, back stage, and deplaning. Nothing really special for its approximately 3:15. “Bootlegged in Melbourne” is one song by the band onstage compiled from a series of cameras taken by fans in the audience. The images are shaky, but it is well edited, and interesting to watch, lasting 8:30. Of course, there is the still photo montage of the band, again in concert, for 1:30. The most interesting addition, though, is a relaxed full-band interview (backstage?), which they respectfully don’t try to overtalk each other, give other members space to make their point - even if occasionally silly (mucho beer bottles are present and assumed by me as near empty as they don’t drink much in front of the camera). The questions are presented as silent caption cards in between answers, covering numerous topics such as their then-new album, where the tour has taken the band, and the legal problems they had in Indonesia and whether they feared for their safety. For me, this 9:30 segment is the keeper of the extras.

Track List
Memorial Arrangements
Premature Burial
Coronation of Our Domain
Blood Brothers
Eve of Apocalypse
Manic Demise
Infernal Desire
Living in Fear
Fine Art of Murder
Deliver my Enemy
The Will to Kill
Malevolent Creation
Bonus tracks
Multiple Stab Wounds
Homicidal Rant


“Manic Demise,” from this DVD:

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