Sound — 9
With the advent of YouTube and other like-minded sites, gone are the days of searching endlessly for those live bootlegs on eBay and shady dealers at your local flea market. Nowadays, that obscure Morbid Angel rehearsal video you were looking for is just a mouse click away. While it made the life of the music obsessed much easier to manage, it posed a problem for the record labels trying to put together quality DVD releases. Why would anyone spend $17 on a DVD that you can just easily get for free on YouTube? It forced the labels to produce much better content and raised the bar much higher. In the end, the consumer wins out this time. The powers that be at Metal Blade Records obviously understand this and have just released one of the most impressive music DVD packages to grace store racks yet. Cannibal Corpse's new Centuries of Torment: The First 20 Years is made up 3 separate DVDs featuring the Death Metal giants. The package includes a detailed documentary on the group's history, live performances that span their entire career and interviews with past and present members of not only the band but many of their underground Metal counterparts. The documentary is definitely the jewel in this crown ultimately proving to be much more than just a career overview. With the 3 hour running time and exhaustively researched archive of gig posters and on-camera interviews, the film ends up acting as a sort of oral history of American Death Metal on top of a stellar Cannibal Corpse historical archive.
Content — 9
The live footage collected on the live portions of Centuries of Torment go from camcorder quality filmed performances from the band's early club days in Buffalo, NY to more recent headlining appearances in Europe caught in a professional, multi-camera style. As great as the stuff from their set at 2007's Full Force festival in Germany is, it's the footage from 1989 that leaves the deepest impression. The unpolished yet commanding performance of Eaten Back to Life's Thrash-Death staple, Shredded Humans is worth the price of admission alone! There is something so punishing about Chris Barne's early vocal style that it makes you wish the front man would revisit it in his current Six Feet Under gig.
Production Quality — 9
Expertly directed by Denise Korycki, the documentary trumps recently released like-minded discs from bands like God Forbid and Unearth. The fast-paced editing style lends the film an energetic flow that keeps your attention throughout the admittedly long running time. No interview clip overstays its welcome and the band members always offer interesting tidbits of insight to their colorful career. With it's crisp titles, vibrant menus, and elaborate DVD packaging, it's clear that no expense was spared.
Overall Impression — 9
Cannibal Corpse have been accused of many things throughout their lifespan but one thing the band definitely are is consistent. You can always count on the band to deliver an album packed to the rafters with one monolithic riff after the other and some of the most bile-laced lyrics this side of an Eli Roth penned screenplay. Their why fix it when it's not broken formula has served the band extremely well. Featuring interviews with members of veteran bands (Immolation, Obituary), more obscure ones (Cynic, Solstice), and the occasional curveball (Ice-T), Centuries of Torment is a testament to Cannibal Corpse's musical might and influence.