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Lair of the Minotaur - War Metal Battle Master DVD Review

by Mark Hensch

I rarely enjoy a band's DVD output more than its corresponding musical releases. In the case of Chicago's Lair of the Minotaur, however, I experience greater enjoyment on the screen than I do between earphones. Coming across as a struggle between Clash of the Titans and Cannibal Holocaust, the group's War Metal Battle Master DVD expresses the primal rage of bloodlust much better than the music I have heard.

The centerpiece of the film is the music video for the title track of 2008's War Metal Battle Master. Graphic in its depictions of violence and nudity, Southern Lord Records proclaims 31 countries have banned the clip.

Regardless of whether or not such a statement is true, the video takes an exploitation film rout rarely seen in music videos. "War Metal Battle Master" shows the band playing amidst flashbacks of warfare; the Greek war god Ares slays multiple opponents, all before witnessing the horrible coming of the Keres. These female spirits lustily feed on the bodies of the dead and dying, exhibiting a frenzied bloodlust which makes even Ares, a deity of savagery, pause.

Thankfully, there are no holds barred in the video's presentation. Well coordinated hand-to-hand combat produces spurts of blood and severed body parts, all of which are rendered in convincing fashion by the special effects. The Keres, meanwhile, are nearly naked maidens turned into starving monsters, a mix which dances between naughty and nauseating. Add the band flying through one of their best tracks in wicked fashion, and the end result is a much needed injection of blood, sex and rock 'n roll into the Lair of the Minotaur presentation.

Outside of the original video, Southern Lord also includes a censored version devoid of serious bloodletting and sexually-charged cannibalism. This version of the video contains expanded battle scenes and offers up the same effect without any potentially offensive portions.

A handful of behind the scenes features are also included, but these largely stay brief and of little consequence. Taking the short but sweet approach, these expository portions largely pan over the actors and models rather than reveal anything interesting.

Rounding out the collection is a set of live performances by the band which sadly do not equal or surpass the other DVD material. Tunes old and new appear, with the majority of the dates ravaging the Midwest before raiding Europe. Regardless of where a song takes place, however, fuzzy sounds repeatedly collides with awkward, grainy angles. Awesome songs like "Ultimate Destroyer," meanwhile, do not show a single crowd member, all of whom are likely rocking hard. Worst of all, the "Horde of Undead Vengeance" clip hurts eyes with its inexplicable red tint. Put simply, the live footage appears weaker than the video footage.

Though not without its disappointments, the War Metal Battle Master DVD is a fine addition to one's battle chest overall. Though some of the concert film is a miss, the majority of it is passable for casual fans and hardcore fanatics alike. More importantly, however, the titular movie offers a unique take on the music video format, one well worth checking out in all its raw and gory glory.

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