It takes blood, sweat and usually a considerable amount of beers to not only make it to the top of the death metal heap, but it's another thing to still be considered a vital force in the extreme metal scene twenty years down the road, and yet Sweden's Dismember have been doing just that since they exploded onto the scene back in the late 80's.
The band has released a total of eight studio albums to date and their 1991 debut effort for Nuclear Blast Like an Ever Flowing Stream still ranks as one of the most potent slabs the extreme metal world has ever seen. Their blend of metal and hardcore influences drew instant comparisons with another well known Swedish band Entombed, as well as Autopsy from the US. Although vocalist Matti Karki and guitarist David Blomqvist are the only remaining members from the bands early days, and the group has gone through numerous lineup changes over the course of their career, the additions of guitarist Martin Persson (2005), bassist Tobias Christiansson (2006) and most recently, drummer Thomas Daun (2007) appear to have finally solidified the band's lineup once and for all.
Under Blood Red Skies is a two disc DVD that captures Dismember in full battle mode. The first disc consists of a scorching fifteen song set recorded at the Party San Festival in Germany in the summer of 2008, while the second disc offers the appropriately titled behind the scenes documentary Death Metal & More Mental Illness, as well a handful of bootleg quality live performances from places like South America and the Czech Republic.
The concert portion of Under Blood Red Skies is a total blast to watch as the band tears through one song after another from their impressive back catalogue in front of an absolutely manic crowd at the outdoor festival. As the band hits the stage and slams into the opening number "Stillborn Ways" off their 1997 Death Metal album, the camera captures the crowd as shirtless fans drink from Viking horns and legions of long haired, leather clad metal fans head bang windmill style. They offer little respite from their relentless assault as they rip into one song after another with brutal precision. Highlights of this high octane show include early favorites such as "Override of The Overture", "Skin Her Alive" and "Sickening Art", along with newer tracks "Death Conquers All" and "Under A Blood Red Sky" off their last album Dismember (2008).
In addition to the concert the DVD features as mentioned, an excellent behind the scenes look at the band and the various shenanigans that go on behind the scenes. You get the history of the Dismember and what's it's like to be on the road through extensive and often hilarious interviews which each member, as well as some great live clips of them performing with Unleashed and Entombed on their Masters of Death tour in 2006. The interviews reveal the guys in the band to be real down to earth people who certainly like to party. There are some really funny segments of certain band members wrecked out of their skull, and the closing head banging around the world montage is a blast. You see them head banging everywhere, on airplanes, market squares, hotel rooms, in the studio, in the ocean, on stage, backstage, basically anywhere and everywhere. Both the Death Metal documentary and bonus live clips are a great way to round out this excellent package.
If you're a big time Dismember fan then this is an essential purchase. Hell I can't even consider myself to be a huge fan of the band or even death metal in general for that matter, however I'd have to admit that even for the casual fan like myself, Under Blood Red Skies provided a compelling glimpse into their world of extreme metal.
1) Stillborn Ways
2) Death Conquers All
4) Dark Depths
5) Life- Another Shape of Sorrow
6) Forged With Hate
7) Under A Blood Red Sky
8) Override of The Overture
9) Soon to be Dead
10) Bleed For Me
11) And So is Life
13) Skin Her Alive
14) Sickening Art
15) In Death's Sleep