Metal City (DVD)
posted on 10/2008 By:
What the hell is this?
Seriously... Am I missing something? What the hell is this? This is credited to Venom, clearly, but of the 12 songs here, only three are actually Venom, with three each by fellow NWOBHM bands Warfare, Avenger and Saracen, only the first of which to my knowledge features anything more than a tenuous personnel connection to Venom. The press material describes this as a "Venom collection [that] features selections from the early years--and early incarnations (1979-1985)—of one of the best black/thrash/speed metal bands of all time."
I call bullshit.
The Venom tracks are about what you'd expect from a band that's made its fortunes on piss-poor sound and over-the-top schtick. A live version of "7 Gates Of Hell" starts things off, with some sketchy video quality, lame special effects, and apparently only one functional laser beam. "Witching Hour" suffers a similar fate, with a ton of smoke that obscures Mantas almost entirely at times and a sub-par mix that makes everything besides Cronos even more of a wall of noise than is typical for a Venom record. "Nightmare" is a bonafide music video, versus just a live performance—with the added bonus of a bogus, short-and-pointless "making of" featurette, touted in the press material and all but overlooked in the actual playing of the disc. All-in, of a 58-minute DVD, roughly only 15 minutes is dedicated to Venom, the remainder being of the other three bands or of horribly dressed fat British fellows in oversized glasses discussing the lighting rig or how nice "the lads" are. (It's never explained who these people are or why they're being filmed. I just assume they're record-company/booking-agency employees, road crew, friends, whatever. Frankly, I don't care. I still don't want to see them.) There's also a ton of goofy candid scenes with the other three bands, some of which are mildly amusing but none of which are worth watching twice.
Of the other three bands, Warfare is up first and features some of the ugliest dudes who aren't in Avenger. Thankfully, at least, their brand of rough-and-tumble punky metal is good enough to transcend the ridiculous early-80s-ness of the whole affair. "Burning Up" and "Metal Anarchy" are certainly ridiculous now, but they're still full-on Motorhead-like blasts of speed and adrenaline, and I’m totally down with that.
While Warfare is raw and dirty (and good) like Venom, Saracen are poppier, keyboard heavy sub-Survivor AOR, with a short-haired mustachioed singer that looks like a supporting cast member from Footloose. Perhaps to compensate for the wimpiness of their music and singer, the band has the good sense to put a lot of scantily clad ladies in the video for "We Have Arrived," but it still doesn't make up for how lame these tunes are. I have only the vaguest idea why Saracen is here amongst these other three bands, but their contributions are by far the most dated of all of these BC-Rich-and-bullet-belt-toting goofballs, and I'd advise all but the heartiest of laugh-seeking metalheads to avoid repeated spins of their portions.
Last but not least, Avenger fits between the two, not as primal as Warfare or as commercial as Saracen, just solid meat-and-potatoes NWOBHM, with a uniform of bullet-belts and jeans and super-ugly dudes playing Maiden-y metal. Of all four bands on hand, Avenger is by far the most polished and professional, although I'm as partial to Warfare's adrenaline-soaked energy as I am to Avenger's trad-metal. I have an Avenger compilation in my Amazon.com wish list, and this DVD doesn’t make me want to delete it in shame.
Ultimately, at best, Metal City appears to be a Neat Records promotional tool from the mid-80s, and at worst, it's just a mess. (A companion album was released at the time as the initial release of this VHS, too, according to what little info I could find.) Either way, it's deceptive in its claim as a Venom DVD, and if it's approached at all, it should be approached only as a way to check out a few long-lost NWOBHM bands and maybe see some vintage Venom footage, better versions of which are undoubtedly on Youtube.
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