The premier Christian thrash outfit's first DVD release features fifteen live songs from two distinct eras: the first Tourni-gig ever, and a recent 2001 performance in Europe, with guitarist Aaron Guerra (who left before the recording of Where Moth And Rust Destroy). The first half is taken from the August, 2001 date at the Flevo Fest in Holland; while the set isn't presented in its entirety, digital live Tourniquet is still cause for excitement, after a sequence of rare VHS offerings. This is doubly true of the DVD's second half—captured by the lens of a single camera—which finally broadcasts the band's inaugural performance at the Kit Carson Amphitheater, circa 1991—and it appears uncut!
In Holland, the sound is loud & proud, and visuals are captured by four cameras. The quartet—Guerra, drummer-founder Ted Kirkpatrick, longtime-vocalist Luke Easter, and bassist Steve Andino—plods its way through six vintage numbers from the first three albums, plus a drum solo. "Ark Of Suffering" is a bit of a famous anti-animal abuse song (Kirkpatrick is an animal rights activist), and while this is a lively version, the guitar tandem of the original version is missed. "Pathogenic Ocular Dissonance," from the album of the same name, is typically a fan favorite, but the venue ambience isn't sufficiently represented to gauge crowd response, except in a few spots. Steve Andino's bass is simultaneously chunky and trebly, a tone which is very apt for the music and this song, in particular. As a lover of that album and its title track, it's splendid to see the guitar work recreated by Guerra. And speaking of the lineup, once again it's noteworthy that Luke Easter is a great example of hitting paydirt when needing to replace a previous vocalist, but he doesn't seem keen on recreating some of Guy Ritter's stark highs (not that he needs to). "Bearing Gruesome Cargo" and "Broken Chromosomes" are separated by a drum solo, and old admirers know Kirkpatrick is from the School of Peart, Bruford, and [Simon] Phillips—'nuff said! An old classic that deals with religious cults, "A Dog's Breakfast," closes this half.
Now for a real treat: gig numero uno from 1991, in Escondido, CA, a show that coincided with the release of the great sophomore effort, Psychosurgery. This is a true rarity, down to the single-mic, single-cam recording, with random pans and sudden zooms. Kirkpatrick, Ritter, bassist Victor Macias, and the guitar tag team of part-time vocalist Gary Lenaire and Erik Mendez whip the close-quarters crowd into a frenzy with their now-classic brand of faithborne, "melodic thrash." Macias and Kirkpatrick are a fab rhythm section that should've embarrassed guys like Ulrich & Newsted into dropping their instruments like hot poker irons. Mendez's trained riffing and soloing is unstoppable, and it's truly unfortunate he would only last through one more album before leaving due to personal problems. This set draws entirely from 1990's Stop The Bleeding and
also begins with "Ark Of Suffering," featuring visual performance artist Devino at far stage left. "The Test For Leprosy," Tears Of Korah," and "Somnambulism" are all effected with flair and style, along with two more songs, a drum solo, and the set closer of "Harlot Widow and the Virgin Bride" (with Devino's "flaming eyes" reprise, behind the drum riser). Former-day Tourniquet appears just as comfortable onstage as latter-day Tourniquet, the only differences being an extra guitar, and more hair—lots more hair!
One last surprise is in store: the original promo video for "Ark Of Suffering" is served up, for the first time on digital format, as well. This promo was shot with the quintet lineup in the Escondido gig—Erik Mendez did not actually join until after Stop The Bleeding had been recorded, but he's playing the same tapped solo that Mark Lewis originally laid down. As we know, footage of the band performing is interspersed with captures that illuminate the horrors and misgivings of animal abuse, with test monkeys, exterminations, and random killings—a powerful trumpet call to an ongoing crisis.
Ocular Digital is going to be followed up in 2004 with more Tourniquet DVDs, including Live In California (1998), and the DVD reissue of Ted Kirkpatrick's unreleased drum solos video! Three words: roll 'em out!