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Superjoint Ritual - Live at Cbgb's: Changing the Face of Music Through Uncompromising Anti-Image

Sanctuary Records // Unrated // October 5, 2004
List Price: $19.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Ian Jane | posted October 25, 2004 | E-mail the Author
The Movie:

When Pantera imploded a few years ago, a lot of people figured that their angry front man Phil Anselmo would fall by the wayside and into some sort of heroin induced life in a ditch somewhere. While he may have come close (who knows for sure) he ended up working with Necrophagia for a while and then devoting more of his fulltime attention to his latest project, Superjoint Ritual.

This change in musical styles and directions for Anselmo resulted in his new band playing larger club shows – a big change from selling out auditoriums like he was doing with Pantera. It has also resulted in a tighter, angrier, heavier band that really delivers live and pretty much destroys the audience in the process (and I mean that in a good way).

The band played legendary New York City music club CBGB in the summer of 2004 in support of their latest album, A Lethal Dose Of American Hatred. Anselmo does a good job of getting the crowd worked up and into the music, and the rest of the band thrashes around all banging their heads in unison in a way that hasn't been seen too often since the end of the eighties. Phil's calls of 'Hail Satan' to the crowd in between songs make things a little difficult to take seriously sometimes but it does keep in the spirit of their music, which is a strange blend of anger, weed references and dark imagery.

Antifaith

F*ck Your Enemy

The Introvert

Personal Insult

The Destruction Of A Person

Permanently

The Alcoholik

Waiting For The Turning Point

One Song/Ozena

Stealing A Page Or Two From Armed & Radical Pagans

This fast and malicious set clocks in at just under forty minutes. What it lacks in longevity it makes up for with intensity. With Jimmy Bower (Eye Hate God) on guitar, Joe Fazzio on drums, Kevin Bond also on guitar and Hank Williams III on bass, Anselmo has a great line up working with him and this video does a decent job of capturing the band's live experience. They don't go overboard with flashy lights or stage props of any kind – they just get up and play as fast and as hard as they can and it works.

The DVD

Video:

Unfortunately, the video presentation is the weakest part of this DVD. While the bit rate is nice and high (never dropping below 7.8 and more often than not hitting 8.3 pretty consistently) the concert was shot under the poor lighting conditions that CBGB's suffers from. It was shot on digital video and sadly suffers from some ever-present mpeg compression artifacts that mire the picture and give it a pretty fuzzy look resulting in an image that lacks the detail it should have. That being said, you can at least always follow the action easily enough and it's never a problem seeing what's happening on stage or in the pit in front of it. It's just a shame about those ugly compression artifacts…

Sound:

While it would have been nice to find a Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mix or a DTS mix for this presentation, the limited Dolby Pro Logic sound mix that was supplied is pretty thunderous in its own right. Bass notes hit the subwoofer like a slap outside the head and the high end of Phil's vocals comes through as clear as can be expected. Some limited audience response muddies up a few bits here and there but the vast majority of this mix is audible, clean, and captures the spirit of the moment pretty accurately. Anyone who has ever seen Superjoint Ritual live knows that they attack as a wall of 'heavy' and that's pretty much how this DVD sounds.

Extras:

The biggest of the extra features comes in the form of a fifteen and a half minute interview with the band. While Anselmo's camera time makes up the majority of the piece, the other four members are present as well, Hank III's bit being an amusing little chunk of screentime in which he sums up his life's direction with 'someday I'll be the old guy at the death metal show.' Anselmo discusses why he prefers the direction his latest project is taking and how it was both an honor and a little bit intimidating at the same time to be playing the legendary New York City club that is widely considered the birth place of punk rock.

There are also promotional videos included for two of the band's songs, Waiting For A Turning Point and Dress Like A Target.

Final Thoughts:

Superjoint Ritual: Live At CBGB's – Changing The Face Of Music Through Uncompromising Anti-Image is a raw, loud, and aggressive performance from a raw, loud and aggressive band. While the video quality leaves a little to be desired, the music is what matters most and Anselmo and company deliver a great, intense and very heavy show on this concert DVD. Recommended.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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