VARIOUS ARTISTS
"Century Media Records: The Visual Experience"

(Century Media)

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RATING: 8/10

DVD video collections are typically a dime a dozen, some better than others, but most geared toward the diehard fans of a particular band that must own every product released by their favorite artist. This Century Media video collection is a bit of a special one though, chronicling the first 12 years of the legendary label's existence. No less than 31 videos from a range of bands past and present are included.

The content of the two-disc set is compiled primarily from three previously released VHS tapes: 1995's "Music Television Go to Hell", 1997's "Declaration of Independence", and 2002's "Visual Chaos". In addition, the label has included 13 bonus videos from the same era. The DVD works on several levels. Fans of bands like UNLEASHED, SENTENCED, or TIAMAT will get several videos from each act with information included in the liner notes for every clip. As an historical document, it gives the viewer a grand overview of the Century Media legacy. Whether bands like STUCK MOJO ("Rising", "Pig Walk", "Not Promised Tomorrow"), CRO-MAGS (sorry, but "The Paths to Perfection" is not the way that band was supposed to sound), GRAVEYARD RODEO ("Black Stone"), or ONLY LIVING WITNESS ("Slug"), the variety and entertainment factors are appealing. Considering that you can skip to only those videos in which you are interested, the DVD allows fans of bands they may have heard about, but never had the chance to check out, to bone up on their metal history. Watching videos from the formative years of bands like NEVERMORE and STRAPPING YOUNG LAD is eye opening as well. There is a lot to enjoy on this one.

It is quite a lot of fun to watch the DVD while sitting around sucking suds with your buds, laughing at some of the cheesy moments, appreciating groundbreaking acts, or just reminiscing about the early days. This is still nothing more than a massive collection of videos, but it is jam packed with great music and outdoes most of the similar collections out there today.

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