VARIOUS ARTISTS
"The Realm of Napalm Records"

(Napalm)

For more information, visit Amazon.com.

RATING: 8/10

If you aren't already familiar with this label's preoccupation with the European bastard sons and daughters of TIAMAT, CREMATORY THE GATHERING and CEMETARY, you'll find much to love in this extensive label sampler. Of course, if you are already a disciple of heavy guitars, gothic attitudes, female vocals, and (occasionally) fake elf ears and medieval battle re-enactments, you've probably already gone into paroxysms of joy while watching this collection over and over.

There are exceptions to this, of course — HURTLOCKER's SLAYER-esque thrash sticks out like a spastic in a morgue with their video for the vicious "Absolution". But most of the bands here fall into what is considered the typical Napalm sound. From the slick goth-rock of LACRIMAS PROFUNDERE to the medieval uproar of KORPIKLAANI and TYR to the dramatic female-fronted metal of DARKWELL, ELIS and LEAVES' EYES, this is Napalm doing what they do best, creating dark, romantic and sumptuous musical moods of various velvet hues.

The section of videos from jokey Norwegian glam band WIG WAM therefore sticks out painfully — who thought this was a good signing for the label? I mean, good luck with it and all, but I can't see anyone who buys this for the ENTHRONED live cut or the KORPIKLAANI videos having any reaction but extreme revulsion to this warmed-over retro hair-pop crap. A documentary on label flagship LEAVES' EYES is a much more welcome sight, including concert footage and a presentation of the band in the studio.

If you took out the WIG WAM silliness, and maybe put the heavier stuff on its own companion volume (or represented it a little more thoroughly), this would be just about perfect as a representative slice of the label's best. It's too bad Napalm recently split with their US partners Moribund — some choice cuts from their roster would have made this a much more diverse experience. Nonetheless, this DVD is essential viewing and a great collection of videos and live tracks you won't find anywhere else — certainly not on American television.

P.S. An audio CD is included, with the above-mentioned acts, plus additional Napalm stalwarts like ATROCITY, SUMMONING, IRON FIRE and BESEECH.

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