October 3, 2007

Music DVD Review: Darzamat - Live Profanity {Visiting the Graves of Heretics}

It was just over a year ago that I first encountered the symphonic gothic blackness of Darzamat. I know that isn't a genre, but it seems fitting. They have a sound that surges forward with melodic brutality, and this DVD shows them take that to the stage. Think of Evanescence if they had dropped the poppier sensibilities and went into the darkness rather than playing around in shadows. This Polish sextet definitely put on a good show. This release from MVD (produced by Metal Mind) is their first excursion into the home video market, and it is loaded with live material and bonus videos and documentaries. If you are a fan of Darzamat, like symphonic black, or are just looking for something different, this DVD is definitely worth adding to your collection.

Each year there are a number of glorious metal festivals across Europe. One of the largest of these shows is held in Poland. It is called Metalmania and it has been going strong for nearly two decades. Why do I mention this? Well, the heart of this DVD was Darzamat's set from the 2007 edition this past March. The show was headlined by Testament, and also counted Sepultura, Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride, and Entombed among the bands that Darzamat shared the main stage with. Given the opportunity, this would be a great festival to attend. Fortunately, the show gets a DVD/CD release each year. That is all besides the point, suffice to say that while on the Metalmania set you may get a couple of songs, here you get the full set.

Darzamat takes the stage as the hometown crowd roar their approval as they kick into the opening song: "Labyrinth of Anxiety." Flauros and Nera bring their vocal dynamics to the stage, clutching their mic stands, each with the dragon-like logo from their latest album, Transkarpatia. It is a fitting image as the band name is derived from a protective deity guarding gardens and forests in Slavonic mythology. It also looks pretty cool. The second song was the lead track from Transkarpatia, "The Burning Times." It is a song that perfectly puts their sound on display, and the live version is excellent. It is a dense, melodic excursion into darkness. It features atmospheric keyboards, driving drums, heavy guitar riffs, and excellent vocals from both leads.

The rest of the set is just as good as they play some great high energy music. Their stage presence is what you would expect from this style of music. They do not move around the stage much, staying in one general location while their swinging hair gives the illusion of movement. There is nothing wrong with this, as they still have a charismatic presence that kept the crowd, and me, involved. I am really liking these guys. The final song is "Diabelski Dom cz.II" and features a guest singer in Roman Kostrzewski. It's OK, I don't know who he is either. I found out that he was a founding member of a metal group called Kat and has been accused of spreading Satanism. He also narrated an audio book of Anton Levey's The Satanic Bible. The performance was quite good.

Technically, it is not the best looking concert, in terms of the transfer quality, but it is still quite good. The camera work is good, giving us good views of the stage and the individual members, while never forcing you to keep up with mile-a-minute cuts. Audio is nice and full and presented in both a 5.1 mix and a stereo mix. The set runs 45 minutes.

Now, this was just the beginning of this DVD. It includes an entire second set of music. This second set is from the Winter Nachts Traum Festival, held February 24, 2007 in Germany. This show is an a much smaller scale when compared to Metalmania, but it is no less high energy. The setting is more intimate, and the band was up there giving it their all. The set includes songs such as "Blackward," "Vampiric Prose," and "Hallucinations." The closes with "Storm," which I have read is the only song they play that originated prior to their two most recent albums. Not sure why.

The audio/video quality of this set is a little lesser in quality, but still more than adequate. The video has also been treated with some visual effects to spice up the home viewing experience. Surprisingly, they work well, lending the set a little more atmosphere. The audio is only available in stereo. This set runs for half an hour.

Next up is a trio of music videos for "The Burning Times," "The Red Iris," and "The Aggression." None of them are all that ground breaking, but they are still pretty cool to have. Nice to see them unfettered by their mic stands. They are presented in non-anamorphic widescreen.

There is a twenty minute featurette called "Shockumentary, Part I." Not sure where, or when, part 2 will appear. This is comprised of behind the stage and on the road footage as they tour through Poland, Russia, Italy, Ukraine, and other places. Some low quality live footage is mixed in with the rest of the clips. We get to see the band goofing around on the road and getting ready for a performance.

Capping the videos is an interview with Flauros and Nera. This covers the evolution of the band from its earliest beginnings as a side project for Mastiphal's bassist, to the creation and experimentation with their sound, all the way through the current day. It is conducted in Polish with subtitles. The interview runs north of 30 minutes.

The final substantial material is in the form of two audio only tracks. The two songs are "Equinox" and a studio re-recording of "Storm" from 2005. Both songs are pretty good, particularly "Storm."

There are a few final extras. They come in the form of a photo gallery, band logo wallpapers, and web links to more photographs.

Bottomline. This is a very good collection of footage and related material. Darzamat is a band that is finding its way and making a name for themselves. I am definitely interested in hearing more of their music. Plus, if this is an indication of all their live shows, I want them to come tour the States!



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