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DVD Review: EARACHE – iCrusher Complete

earache icrushercompleteEarache has a habit of reheating and re-serving old platters, and iCrusher Complete is no exception.  It collects two DVD samplers, iCrusher 1 and 2, issued in 2001 and 2002, onto one double-sided DVD.  By definition, samplers aren't cohesive.  Sticking two together, along with audio tracks and extras seemingly selected by a blind man, makes for one of the most random viewing experiences in recent memory.

The DVD starts jarringly – not with roaring guitars, but with techno beats.  Images follow of the prosthetic-nosed Mortiis rolling around in sand and mud.  He also hangs out in a cathedral, accompanied by a rather strong wind machine.  Beavis would have started dancing; Butthead would have slapped him in the face and changed the channel.  It's a strange choice for the leadoff spot, yet more goth club Mortiis stylings begin side two.  Earache must really love the dude.

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Most of the videos are extremely low-budget.  My notes for Gandalf's "Morning Sun": "This is weak and cheap."  Godflesh's "Christbait Rising": "primitive, but it works."  The harsh yet dreamy hues of the latter evoke flickering, dying TV's.  The video of Cathedral's "Black Sunday" isn't synced to its audio; it's just live shots interspersed with silly hijinks road footage that no one but the band would find funny (why bands fill DVD's with such tripe is beyond me).  In Hate Eternal's "Powers That Be," the band inexplicably plays in a forest, while a hooded figure runs around.  It's basically a black metal video.

However, there are a few gems.  Live footage of The Haunted, recorded for Live Rounds in Tokyo, looks crisp and sounds clear.  Watery shots of Venice perfectly complement the surrealism of Ephel Duath's "The Embossed."  The video for Decapitated's "Spheres of Madness" is essentially Hellraiser but not scary; still, the song kicks ass.  It's a treat seeing live footage of Entombed at their prime (circa 1992), and live footage of Carcass playing "Tools of the Trade" is amazing.  It looks and sounds great, and is a reminder of how much metal loses when it gets bit-crushed in YouTube.

The bonus audio tracks are actually two long DVD chapters – you just watch pictures of the bands as their songs play.  It's boring as hell.  Over the years, Earache has released some truly awful music, and it's astonishing that they would remind the world again of that fact.  There's Society 1, a crappy Marilyn Manson clone; Autonomy, a crappier rap-metal outfit; and Ultraviolence, a Hi-NRG dance act whose name is accurate in that it describes what I'd like to do to them.

Even more desultory are the video extras.   An "up close & personal" feature on Society 1's Matt Zane is promotional fluff and neither up close nor personal.  A making-of feature on Society 1's "Nothing" video shows Zane getting pierced in his back and getting suspended in the air by hooks.  Without commentary, the feature manages to be both horrifying and boring.  An "in the studio" feature on December recording The Lament Configuration cobbles together shaky handcam footage with blown-out sound.  It ends abruptly, leaving you wondering what you were watching – much like the rest of the DVD.

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