Cinemetal Reviews

GOD FORBID’S BENEATH THE SCARS OF GLORY AND PROGRESSION IS WORTH THE WAIT

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Holy crap. After what seems like forever, God Forbid finally released their first DVD, Beneath the Scars of Glory and Progression, earlier this week (trailer and clip above).

And you know what?

It was totally worth the wait.

I sat down the other night to watch this thing figuring I’d take just a sampling – maybe skip around a little, check out a live performance here, a band interview there – and ended up watching the entire thing from start to finish. It’s that good.

For God Forbid fans, this two disc set is really an embarrassment of riches.

The first disc kicks off with a concert film of the band’s entire live performance at the Starland Ballroom in New Jersey during President’s Day weekend of 2007. Now, concert films are notoriously tricky propositions; if done wrong, you usually end up with the worst of both worlds – a boring movie that in no way represents what it’s like to go see live music. And we’ve seen a lot of bands fall into this trap recently. Now that everyone and their mother owns a DV cam and iMovie, we’ve got too many would-be Scorseses running around releasing Uwe Boll-quality material.

No such issue here. The concert footage kicks ass, in a major, major way.

Part of that, of course, is just because God Forbid are such a spectacular live band, and they gave a characteristically tight and ferocious performance on this particular night. But a lot of credit should also go to their producer, Eric Rachel, who’s sound mix is positively MONSTROUS and pretty much guaranteed to knock your ‘nads into the back of your throat.

But a lot of the credit, of course, should also go to director/producer David Brodsky, producer/editor Allison Woest, and their team at MyGoodEye (including Metal Injection‘s own Frank Godla, who served as one of the camera operators for the performance). It’s pretty clear that Brodsky knows exactly what he’s doing, as he seems to have an impossible number of cameras set up, capturing every angle of the performance, alternately flying over the kids going apeshit in the pit with sweeping crane shots and capturing tight, intimate shots that make you feel more or less like you’re on-stage with the band (A particular highlight is sitting with drummer Corey Pierce behind his kit. This dude has to be one of metal’s most under-appreciated drummers, and even most people who have seen him play have never really seen him play, if that makes sense).

The editing is more or less flawless, too. Towards the end of “Chains of Humanity,” the stage lights begin to strobe in perfect unison with the staccato riffs, and Woest’s cuts, too, follow these rhythms, so that the guitars, lights, and edits are all acting as one mechanism, creating an insanely intense experience. Clearly a lot of thought went into this, and it just goes to show the difference between this DVD and lot of those recent lesser ones I was talking about before.

Disc 1 is rounded out with the band’s complete videography. As is pretty much the case with any band these days, some of the music videos are pretty cool and some of them are, um, somewhat less so. Still, there’s nothing too embarrassing here.

The bulk of the second disc is devoted to a documentary by director Denise Korycki which tells you pretty much everything you could ever want to know about the band. Anyone who’s seen Korycki’s work in the past (like a similar doc for Killswitch Engage on their own DVD) knows that she has a knack for this kind of thing, even though she’s at kind of a natural disadvantage – namely that since she isn’t making a documentary about something as it happens (like Todd Bell’s Chimaira doc, The Dehumanizing Process, or even the entertaining-if-disheartening Some Kind of Monster), but something that has happened already, she mostly has “found” footage, still photos, and talking heads to work with – which is generally not the most visually stimulating or exciting thing. But the amount of material she’s been given access to (including “embarrassing” photos of the band in their youth – say hello to a Doc Coyle with hair and bassist Beeker in his marching band days – and lo-fi footage of the group’s earliest gigs), combined with her skill for bringing out the unique personalities of each band member, more than makes up for what could have basically ended up as a bad Behind the Music wannabe.

The first half hour or so of the doc goes through the God Forbid “story” as it were, including a lot of interesting tidbits I won’t spoil here, such as how front man Byron Davis ended up in the band almost by accident, where the moniker “God Forbid” comes from in the first place, and how the Coyle brothers met the other members of what would become God Forbid.

And the remaining ninety-plus minutes of the documentary – yes, it runs longer than two hours! – is devoted to getting the bands thoughts on various topics, such as their evolution as songwriters, the highs and lows of touring, and the racism issue (Including a story about a white kid who asked Pierce how, as a black man, he can still “play the drums like that.” Seriously, people, we need to do something about our America education system). By the film’s conclusion, you really feel like you know each member of the band as an individual; the members of God Forbid are no longer just another group of faceless musicians. And, kind of amazingly, all five members of the group are incredibly entertaining.

I really can’t recommend this DVD enough; I kind of want to send a copy to all those metal bands who have put out crap product these past few years so they can see that, once again, God Forbid has schooled their asses. If you’re a GF fan, Beneath the Scars… will make you happy as a pig in shit; if you’re not a fan, I can’t imagine anyone watching this thing and not becoming an immediate convert.

metal hornsmetal hornsmetal hornsmetal hornsmetal horns

(five out five horns)

-AR

You can order God Forbid’s Bneath the Scars of Glory and Progression here.

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