July 9, 2008

Music DVD Review: Decapitated - Human's Dust

My first exposure to Decapitated came this past Fall. I was making my web rounds and came across a story about an accident the band had been involved in. Being the occasionally morbidly curious guy that I am, I clicked on the story. It told of a tragic car accident that occurred in Russia while the band was on tour. The accident was bad, claiming the life of drummer Vitek (real name: Witold Kieltyka) and seriously injured vocalist Covan (Adrian Kowanek), who is still recovering. This was a terrible way to stumble across the band, but I am glad I did, as the music is absolutely insane. This, their first DVD release chronicles the earlier years, through 2004 just prior to original vocalist, Sauron, quitting the band. While not directly stating it, this DVD is a nice tribute to the talent that Vitek possessed, taken from the world too soon.

Decapitated formed in Poland way back in 1996, the band members were teens and pre-teens at the time (Vitek was 12!). It was apparent to those around them that they had the skills that could take them far. They developed their style (which I will guess and call extreme tech death metal, when you hear their music, that will make sense), wrote original songs, and released their first full-length LP, Winds of Creation, in 2000 via Earache Records. They went on to release three more albums before the tragic accident in October of 2007.

The centerpiece of Human's Dust is a 2002 performance in Krakow.The 35-minute set is brutal, heavy, and extreme. Knowing that they were teenagers at the time of this recording is simply mindblowing. I am no judge of this genre, so I cannot say just where in the pantheon of tech death bands they fall, but with the skills on display in this concert footage, they were (are) destined for greatness.

Decapitated does not have that great of a stage presence for this concert, primarily standing in place, banging their heads. However, this lack of presence is made up for by the intense way they attack their music. They are incredibly tight and the performance is pitch perfect. They absolutely killed with songs such as 'Nihility," "Spheres of Madness," and" Suffer the Children."

The audio quality is fantastic, the video is the same way. My biggest technical problem with this concert's presentation has nothing to do with its transfer, but the way it was shot. There are all sorts of rapid in/out zooms that are just incredibly annoying. I would have preferred that they just back off and let the music do the talking.

In addition to the Krakow show, there is more live footage to dive into.

First up is a three song, 15-minute sample of their 2002 Ozzfest appearance in Katowice, just months prior to the Krakow show. This footage is shot better, at lease more stable, than the Krakow show, and has some cool lighting as the band bangs their hair around. Again, the performance is brutal, intense, and very tight. No one can accuse these guys of not trying!

The third selection of concert footage was shot in 2004 Metalmania Festival (this is a great festival that releases its on collection of footage each year), in Katowice. This set runs 26-minutes and features songs that were not in the earlier shows, mainly coming from the new at the time The Negation. You can tell that the two years that passed between the earlier footage and this did not go to waste. Beyond having a vastly improved light show and footage quality, the band seems better able to control the stage. There presence has improved, mainly through the effort of frontman, Sauron (sporting a shaved head). Their sound is bigger and better here, and the newer material is fantastic, particularly "Mother War," "Sensual Sickness," and "The Negation."

Now, if live footage is not enough for you, there is about 40-minutes worth of interview footage spanning the three concerts presented. They offer up plenty of information on the formation of the band, development of their sound, hopes for the future, and the concert at hand. The first interview with Vitek and Vogg (guitars) runs nearly 20-minutes by itself and contains the most information about the bands roots. I found their discussion of touring to be most interesting, how they have had to schedule dates around school and having to work hard there in order to go on tour. It must be strange to have this kind of success while still going to school!

Finally, there is one music video. It is for the title track of their debut album, Winds of Creation. The video is comprised primarily of live footage, and the song is excellent, hinting at what was to come.

Beyond the live and interview footage, there is also a discography section, a text band biography, a few photo galleries, wallpapers, weblinks, and a band logo page. Plenty of stuff to explore!

Bottomline. If you are into death metal and do not know these guys, definitely check this disk out and go pick up some of the albums (I need to do this). They are an incredibly talented group of individuals who knew how to throw down from a very young age. This DVD pays tribute to those skills. My thoughts go out to Vitek and Covan's families in their time of loss and recovery.

Highly Recommended.


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