Good and Bad

Music DVDs and videos before them are a wonderful but flawed idea. It's great to see a live performance once and then maybe a second time, the accompanying documentary and bonus features are interesting up to a point but after a couple of watches they usually end up gathering dust on your shelf or being borrowed by your mates. Music, apart from going to concerts, is essentially an aural experience, you don't need to watch the band or one of their videos whilst you're driving your car, walking the dogs or just chilling out with your headphones on. The visual aspect of music is purely the icing on the cake so to speak, which is why the DVD and video have a shorter shelf life than the CDs themselves. 'Set The World Ablaze' is Killswitch's first DVD and contains over seventy minutes of live footage, a ninety-minute documentary on the band, all their promo videos and some bonus footage. It certainly sounds like a good deal but this DVD package has its good side, indifferent side and bad side.

The good side is undoubtedly the live concert filmed in their hometown of Worcester, MA. The set is a tribute to their skills as songwriters as it picks the best cuts from their relatively small discography. Mammoth tracks such as 'Rose of Sharyn', 'Self Revolution' and 'Hope is...' are all included and serve as a reminder of how good Killswitch Engage are. I'd almost banished my copies of 'The End of Heartache' and 'Alive or Just Breathing' to the CD rack because I'd played them out, but watching this enigmatic performance has made me brush off the dust and give them another spin. The production is almost too perfect, sounding incredibly close to the studio mix, there is no doubt it's a live performance but I wonder how much tampering and overdubs were used in post production. If indeed this was the sound of the concert then I take my hat off to the sound mixer because it's crystal clear. Drummer Justin Foley requires a special mention as he seems to blast out the double bass rhythms with ease on a relatively small kit proving that you don't need a huge array of drums to play ferocious metal. Smooth vocalist Howard Jones shows off his excellent crooning voice with Joel and Mike adding a firm backing. The four of them look a solid unit, a real metal band intent on world domination, however guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz's antics are something I'm still trying to work out whether I like or not. He is the only guy in metal, apart from Iron Maiden's Janick Gers, to skip to the music, except Adam goes one further on the DVD by wearing ill fitting denim shorts, long black socks and a batman cape. Watching him camp about the stage is embarrassing and genuinely funny, but does get tiresome after a while and his chat in the microphone is unnecessary. With a band as majestic as Killswitch it doesn't need such frolics, but he is a likeable character, and as one of the masterminds behind the band deserves respect, even if he is skipping around in a cape.

The indifferent side of this DVD are the band's promo videos which include 'Rose of Sharyn,' 'My Last Serenade,' and 'The End of Heartache.' Any metal fan who has watched Scuzz or Kerrang over the past two years have no doubt seen these videos many times already. The latter two tracks were also included on the 'The End of Heartache' special two-disc edition released earlier this year, and the other two videos 'Fixation on the Darkness' and 'Life to Lifeless' are just concert footage, making the whole promo video section pretty pointless.

The ninety-minute documentary is the bad side of this release. The problem lies in the fact that Killswitch Engage only have a couple of albums under their belt and watching them trying to stretch the documentary to ninety minutes was a painful experience. It starts well and was genuinely interesting to see how the band grew from the off cuts of other bands. There are fascinating comments by members of other bands from the same scene such as Lamb of God and Shadows Fall, and it charts the band's rise to success up to the inclusion of Howard Jones and the recording of 'The End of Heartache'. This storytelling however, only lasts thirty minutes, and the last hour (yes, a whole hour) of the documentary is filled with backslapping, saccharin filled, hero-worshiping claptrap. It's so bad it'll have you reaching for the Rennies at the end as it leaves you with a nauseating churn in the pit of your stomach. This is not a dig at the band but at the documentary itself, there are only so many ways you can hear, 'He's one of the best drummers in metal today', 'He's one of the most underrated guitarists in metal today' before you start drifting off wondering if Casualty has started.

If not overpriced, this DVD is worth getting for the concert footage alone, however the extra features are poor which begs the question, why didn't they just release a live album? A wasted opportunity me thinks.