by Cosmo Lee

Many of my favorite bands are so underground that I never get to see them live. Either they’re too busy with day jobs or families to tour, or they’re not plugged into the infrastructure (big label tour support, publicists, booking agents, etc.) that mainstream metal bands enjoy. I’ve seen countless metal bands with boring music but great live shows, simply because they get to hone their act on the road. Meanwhile, my favorite bands remain in 2D.

Thus, I was excited to see Drawn and Quartered‘s Assault of Evil DVD (Moribund, 2009). I reviewed them here some time ago, and have since tried to imagine what they would be like live. This no-frills DVD may be the closest I’ll ever get. The main presentation is a composite of two professionally-shot shows. Extras include four bootleg shows, three music videos, a discography, and a photo gallery.

Go go invisible oranges

The main footage is basic, but acquires a certain atmosphere over time. Part of the appeal of live DVD’s is band-crowd interaction, but that’s minimal here. The crowds are small, the stage presence is functional, and the whole thing feels a bit like a rehearsal. However, it’s a whale of a rehearsal, as the songs fire with fury and precision. I spent much of my viewing time thinking, “Man, this band is good.” I don’t need fancy moves or witty banter when the music speaks for itself. The black/death feeling is strong. Drummer Dario Derna, one of the most talented men in metal — I reviewed his Krohm projects here and here, and his Vetus Obscurum one here — is particularly on point. His attack is tight and energetic; his bandmates follow suit.

The bootleg shows, discography, and photo gallery are all forgettable. But the music videos are fun. “Hail Infernal Darkness,” shown above, has some of the best flying hair footage I’ve ever seen. “Merciless Hammer of Lucifer” also makes the most of its small budget, showing the band playing in a house that reeks of serial murder. That video is also viewable on YouTube. But like most YouTube content, it’s much better in its original form. The colors pop, and the atmosphere is so thick, it’s almost 3D. May sales of this DVD enable the band to emerge from the screen, like The Ring, into real life.