"Party.San? Are you ready to bleed? Then you better bleed for me!" And that's exactly what the crowd at Germany's Party.San festival did for DISMEMBER when they launched into that slab of vintage Swedish death from the band's seminal debut, "Like an Ever Flowing Stream". A much better visual and audio display of DISMEMBER's bludgeoning sound and dominant stage presence than 2004's "Live Blasphemies" DVD, "Under Blood Red Skies" is two discs worth of death metal the way it was always meant to be: dirty, ugly, and uncompromising.
The biggest surprise may be just how well DISMEMBER delivers in a festival setting. I don't know about those that were in attendance, but the view from the recliner shows a band performing with the vigor of teenagers, the confidence and competence of veterans, and the enthusiasm of those with a complete dedication to the craft. This one is just plain death metal to the bone and every song sounds fantastic; the sound is that of an unapologetically live performance, yet the recording quality is fantastic. The guitar channels are clear and distinct, the bass is fat, the drums are tough, and Matti Kärki's gurgle-growl comes through loud and in your face. The solos sound great too. Visually, well, the band ain't pretty and Matti Kärki clearly hasn't been working out on the ab machine; DISMEMBER just has that certain presence and look that brings to mind decomposing corpses and Boss Heavy Metal pedals. It ain't rocket science, yet so many bands have failed to grasp the concepts.
"Documentary: Death Metal and more Mental Illness" is the centerpiece of Disc 2 and is a nicely edited collection of interviews with individual band members that covers a range of topics, but is not any kind of comprehensive historical look into the band. Rather it is more about the essence of DISMEMBER; everything from life on the road (with accompanying shenanigans) to the band's relationship with the fans to the trials and tribulations that come with death metal trench warfare. There are, of course, plenty of goofball antics that can be quite comical, especially coming from a bunch of guys that refuse to take themselves too seriously. The discussions about and clips from the Masters of Death Tour that packaged DISMEMBER with ENTOMBED, UNLEASHED, and GRAVE is particularly interesting. There is plenty of the obligatory bonus performance footage to round out Disc 2 as well.
It is quite simple; if you are interested in what classic Swedish death metal sounds, looks, and smells like, then "Under Blood Red Skies" was made just for you. If you are a DISMEMBER fan, then the DVD is a mandatory purchase.