By Jason Wellwood
Since this is as close as I may ever come to actually seeing Destruction live I’m watching VERY closely. The DVD starts off with a pretty promising animation of mushroom clouds and, well, destruction. Usually these animations come across as cheesy, but not this time around. It seems like AFM went all out to make sure that even the intro to this DVD was killer. My first thought as the band takes the stage at Wacken is: ‘Holy crap! The butcher is a real guy!’ Not knowing too much about the story behind the butcher, I don’t know if they found him first or if his likeness a lucky coincidence, either way it’s a great way to introduce the band! Destruction are super tight from the get go with Schmier hitting all his vocal squeals perfectly. It’s very obvious that the band has a huge history of playing live behind it. Every note, every beat is just about perfect.
Visually, the concert is stunning: quick cuts, great angles and artistic shots. A few shots you’re even looking over Schmier’s head at the audience though an 8 foot sheet of flame! For the most part, the cameras are on the band with just a few crowd shots. Thankfully, the Destruction audience seems to keep themselves clothed better than some festival audiences I’ve seen, though I do think that the crowd surfing heavy metal cowboy could have lost his hat…
The Mad Butcher makes several appearances, throwing meat into the audience, menacing the demon/zombie cheerleaders that pop up every once in awhile but for the most part, all the ‘gimmicks’ (as Schmier calls them) take place off to the side and don’t interrupt the music at all. Sadly, some of the cooler gimmicks don’t translate as well on DVD: while 3 drummers sounds like a really good idea, and looks really cool, I think actually feeling the air move from all that power would have added to the experience. It definitely perked up ‘The Antichrist’ and ‘Reject Emotions’ though. Earlier in the concert, Bobby ‘Blitz’ Ellsworth (Overkill), Peavy (Rage), Tom Angelripper (Sodom) and Odlief from the Communic join Destruction on stage for ‘Alliance of Hellhondz’ but the vocals get a little muddy (understandably). Again though, just seeing them get up on stage with the band (lyric sheets in hand!) is exciting, these are moments we usually hear about but rarely get to see!
Just before launching into ‘Deathtrap’ Schmier asks who was born AFTER the song came out in 1985 and seems unsurprised that the entire front area raises their hands. The finale of ‘Bestial Invasion’ includes all 3 previous drummers (Tommy contributing vocals, not drums) as well as former 2nd guitarist Harry. The song is massive, the crowd is insane and the flames on stage hit close to 10 feet high. It’s an awesome way to cap of an incredible set, and all in all, a brilliant way to cap off 25 years.
The ‘History’ section of Savage Symphony chronicles the birth and rise of Destruction in their own words by the band themselves. Of course it’s all done in German so you actually have to pay attention to the subtitles, which means that you may actually learn something! I would have liked a little bit more about life in Germany as the bands was growing up and forming, but again it’s the band’s own words so they’re allowed to gloss over what they want! Bonus material includes videos and 2 mini movies ‘Nailed ToThe Road’ and ‘Fans Til Death’. Both of which give a little backstage glimpse at Destruction and their fans, for those of us who may never be able to catch them live.
Savage Symphony is an excellent commemoration of a band still in its prime 25 years on. The DVD is a terrific piece of history for Destruction fans and for fans of heavy music period.