Lords of Depravity, Part I - SODOM

If you care anything about the history of thrash metal and of one of the genre's most important bands, then take the time to watch this double-disc set. Time spent watching the 180-minute documentary disc ("Historical Depravity") and the 22-song live disc ("Live Depravity") will be time well spent. To be perfectly frank, SPV and SODOM get it right in a big way on "Lords of Depravity, Part I". In a world where bands with one crappy album are releasing thrown-together DVDs, it is incredibly refreshing to see such a carefully packaged, exciting, and downright educational release.

Ideally, you would have a block of uninterrupted time in order to fully absorb SODOM's rich history on Disc 1. The superbly assembled footage interspersed with discussions with Tom Angelripper, a slew of musicians (past and present), and damn near anyone associated with the band is absolutely gripping, even with English subtitles. In fact, I find I end up paying far more attention to the content when subtitles are involved, even if it not the most enjoyable way to view a DVD. The research involved and contacts made must have taken years to pull together. The insight gained from the 150 guitarists and 45 drummers that have passed through SODOM's gates is priceless. Making the story even more inviting and personal is the manner in which the journey begins in a German mining town (Tom spent 10 years in the mines!) and is revisited throughout. The bleak working class backdrop makes the appeal of SODOM's always noisy and reckless thrash that much more meaningful. Tom talks at length about metal being the true music of the working class, as bits of history about punk, NWOBHM, and the like are told. The discussions with SPV head honcho Manfred Schütz throughout the documentary are interesting from a number of standpoints, particularly his comments about how much easier it was to make money from heavy music in the 80s. From a triumphant show in front of 22,000 maniacs in Sofia, Bulgaria to giving SEPULTURA its big break opening a European tour (and the same with WHIPLASH), to the stress and strain of constantly bringing in new members, the journey through time (1982 - 1995) is incredibly well done. I cannot stress it enough.

As for Disc 2, you get to see SODOM at its most ferocious performing classics like "Among the Weirdcong", "The Saw is the Law", "Witching Metal", "Ausgebombt", "M-16", and a fantastic cover of MOTÖRHEAD's "Ace of Spades". No "Blasphemer" though. Oh well. Many of the performances are taken from Sofia, others at Wacken Open Air, and a handful consist of a series of live clips assembled for individual songs. The variety of shows gives one a broad perspective of the band's stage presence, sound, appearance, and the like. On the other hand, I found it to be a little distracting and would have preferred one single marathon performance. It is a minor gripe though, as the sound, picture, and performance quality are exceptional. In addition to the cool packaging and informational booklets, the DVD also includes videos for "Ausgebombt", "Silence is Consent", and "Die Stumme Ursel".

It is no exaggeration to say that "Lords of Depravity, Part I" will appeal to newcomers and diehards alike. There is so much to gain from devouring this DVD and I guarantee that you'll be playing SODOM CDs for a week after you've watched it. If the ultimate measure of value for a DVD release is some combination of quality production values, viewer education, and pure entertainment, then "Lords of Depravity, Part I" is a smashing success. It is that well done.

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