October 15, 2008

Music DVD Review: Lamb of God - Walk With Me in Hell

Over the years I have seen good music DVDs and bad music DVDs, but I could not say I have seen a lot of music DVDs. Lamb of God's latest DVD, released this past July, falls in the good category. It may even be a great DVD. Whatever it is, it is an absolute must have for Lamb of God fans, and fans of heavy music in general. I went into it not sure what to expect, only to find it a fascinating look inside a metal band on the rise.

I must admit to not being a huge Lamb of God fan. It is not that I don't like them, I just have had little exposure to them, what I have heard, I really like. My first experience with them came by complete accident. It was a few years ago at a concert, I do not remember who. CDs were for sale, I blindly bought one thinking it was for a band playing that night, it turned out to be a copy of As the Palaces Burn. It was a pretty wild disk. I was suitably impressed, but paid them no more mind. A few years later, Sacrament comes out and the band seemingly blows up and rises to to the top of what I have read is called the New Wave of American Metal, although that sounds more like marketing buzz more than anything else. Still, I took my time getting a copy of Sacrament, I shouldn't have. It is an excellent collection of metal tunes put down by guys who know what they are doing. I guess you could call me a fan at this point, but I still wasn't going out to get their other releases (at least not yet).

Sometime later, I believe it was last year, I received a drumming DVD featuring performances and talk from a couple of award winners, Jason Bittner from Shadows Fall and Chris Adler from, you guessed it, Lamb of God. This opened me up to something else, paying a lot more attention to drumming, and to the eloquence with which Adler presents himself. I am not one expecting metal musicians to be dumb brutes, but Adler carried himself with a lot of humility and intelligence, and I found him to be an interesting person.

Fast forward to now, I have Walk With Me in Hell in my hands and I have watched both disks of this expansive set. What I have witnessed is nothing short of excellence, it is not the music, it is not even the people, it is the insight which we are given into the lives of these five men, musicians, friends, and family.

You see, this DVD is not a collection of on the road videos, nor is it a concert DVD, it is an actual documentary. This is no Voluminal (Slipknot) nor is it Volume 1 (Mushroomhead), this is an actual documentary.

The two-disk set kicks off with the centerpiece, a two-hour documentary that takes you inside the band and on the road during the build up to Sacrament and on through the aftermath. The timing of the DVD is a little odd, considering the high regard the band has coupled with the fact that this happened two years ago. Still, it could be seen as a nice placeholder until a new album comes.

What makes this documentary so good is not the production quality, which is merely mediocre, it is the access. We get interviews with all five guys in the band, we catch up with them at signings, and practice, and on the stage, before the show, after the show, doing the touristy things on tour, and everything in between. We get to see this band work hard and see it pay off. We get to watch as Lamb of God rises through the ranks.

I was transfixed as I watched the disk. These five guys believe in their music, believe they can make it, but are completely unsure of how it is going. Essentially, we get to experience their coming of age as a band. Now, it is not all heavy stuff, these guys know how to have fun. I was particularly taken with Chris and Willie Adler jam on a street corner in Japan using gear belonging to a couple of street musicians. I also loved seeing how taken they were with crowds singing their words at the shows.

In addition to the documentary, the first disk contains songs from all of the major tours that they were on during this cycle, one song from each. This includes The Unholy Alliance, Gigantour, Ozzfest, and their headlining tour. The songs run nearly half an hour all together.

Disk two is headlined by the Making of Sacrament documentary that was previously released as part of the deluxe Sacrament release. Fortunately, it is new to me as I only bought the standard release of the album.

This feature runs 77-minutes and offers further insight into the band. The difference being, instead of watching the band on the road, we get to see them throughout the writing process. From the work in a practice studio, which Chris Adler bicycles to and from, to the studio, to working producer Machine (yes, that's the guy's name). I loved watching them struggle with material and each other as they work towards creating the best songs they can. Not a moment is wasted.

Next is their 40-minute set at the 2007 Download festival. The performance features the band absolutely tearing it up as the gigantic crowd feeds off of their energy.

The final piece of the puzzle is their video for "Redneck," accompanied by a brief behind the scenes clip on the making of the video.

Bottomline. You know, I generally prefer the concert centered music releases, but this one is an exception. The content here is great. I loved getting inside of Lamb of God, once you peel away the extreme music you get a group of guys who love what they do. In the end, you have to love it.

Highly Recommended.


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