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Various Artists Tales From the Pit #5 VHS

By Jeff Kerby, Contributor
Tuesday, January 20, 2004 @ 7:07 PM

(Metallian Productions)

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Tales From the Pit is a video that has to be even longer than the latest installment of the Lord of the Rings--geez. The cool part about this being on VHS though is that at least you don’t have to watch all this in one sitting although a viewer probably could--it contains enough metallic information, dialogue and interplay to satisfy a wide range of thrash, hardcore and mainstream rock fans. That isn’t to say that some of this might not receive the dreaded fast-forward treatment, but overall, there is plenty of essential metal knowledge to be passed on in the form of various interviews and profiles. The best course of action to take with regard to this video would probably be to just sit down with the remote control, a six pack and your favorite dragon-headed bong while allowing yourself to plug in to a world of metal that many in the mainstream have long since forgotten.

The opening montage does an apt job of giving the viewer an accurate idea of what is to come. There’s the fat guy drummer from Strapping Young Lad--otherwise known as the most butt ugly ass band God ever created--Gene Hoglan, talking about the fact that the big end of a light bulb will fit in a girl’s vagina. I assume I’m supposed to take his word for it simply because his cholesterol levels appear to be way above the norm and his razor doesn’t work. In any case, we can just assume that this “woman” he was discussing was probably also equipped with a penis and regularly accepts various denominations to perform a “wide range” of activities. Then, that clown El Duce from the Kurt and Courtney documentary makes an appearance. He fronts a band called Mentors and he talks about the fact that he jacks off and then launches into some kind of semi speech that sounds like it could come from some guy sleeping under a paper at the park. Wait, I just insulted the homeless—my bad. This guy is far worse than anything you could encounter on the street. Face it, if you have bought an album from Duce’s so-called band, then you probably have absolutely no taste in music and not much of a reason to exist. Oh well, he’s dead now anyway after getting smacked by a train while he was drunk.

There is also an anti new-Metallica theme running through this edition of Tales From the Pit that begins when Glen Benton of Deicide launches into a pointed diatribe and stating, “There are several bands out there who have started off heavy with ‘metal up your ass’ and all that bullshit. Now they’re doing Seger songs, and what kind of crap is that? I’m looking you right in the face now—that’s crap. Wake the fuck up and knock the powder out of your nose. Get the plugs out of your ass, and put out some real metal. You’ve been bought, paid for and fucked in the ass.” We can only assume Glen probably didn’t approve of the band’s recent tour with Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit either. This perspective goes hand in hand with the portion of the program where a copy of St. Anger is blown up during one of the in-between segments and Doctor Destructo says “That’s the best this record ever sounded.” A truer statement may have never been uttered.

This bulk of this video magazine contains interviews and insights with a great number of metal luminaries such as Motorhead, Iron Maiden, Rob Halford, Queensryche and Dio. In them, Dio discusses religion and comes off as he normally does—thoughtful and poised. When he chronicles the evolution of metal, it becomes increasingly difficult to believe that Dio is as old as he actually is. He seems the anti-Ozzy in so many ways—aging gracefully while consistently managing to exercise a functioning intellect. The Queensryche segment seems to feature a less than enthusiastic Geoff Tate refusing to classify his band’s music while seemingly struggling with fans’ perceptions and his desire to create the type of QR music that interests him. The beginning of Halford’s segment shows Rob, appearing to be a bit tired, discussing an improbable Priest reunion as a copy of the recent press release announcing the band’s plans for a collaboration and tour flashes quickly on the screen. Maiden also checks in during what appears to have been backstage at one of the Maiden/Queensryche/Halford shows from a couple of years back when they toured in support of Brave New World. It is a fairly lengthy segment that showcases a loose, confident band preparing to do what they have done on stage for decades. Finally, Lemmy chimes in with his quote regarding illegal downloading, “They should be put out of fucking business. If I do an honest day’s work, I should get an honest day’s pay. Fuck you or anyone else who thinks different.”

Some of the more thrash-oriented bands like Deicide, Death Angel, Cannibal Corpse and Morbid Angel are featured as well. Again, Deicide’s Benton is interviewed, only during this segment he discusses the fact that he is a Satanist only because he is labeled so by the Christian definition. Death Angel appears to be one of the more personable bands on the video, and they talk about how influential it was for them to see Metallica during the Kill Em’ All days and Slayer when they were starting out as well. Basically, the band explains that the performances were just so powerful for them that the Death Angel was driven to play music just as brutal and urgent in order to let out their own inner metallic demons. Cannibal Corpse explained the difficulty of having to consistently come up with new implements of destruction and innovative ways to kill people, but they seemed to have a certain sense of humor about it. Morbid Angel just came off as a typically blasphemous group with a tired agenda and an inflated sense of purpose.

Then Kreator’s Mille Petrozza logs in and thankfully espouses enough anti-Bush sentiment as to make me proud. When co-host Sean Killian chimes in that this type of expression is unnecessary and that Mille should “leave the politics to the politicians,” it just reinforces why Petrozza needs to be speaking his mind in the first place. Face it, there is just no logical reason for any well-informed, even marginally intelligent human being to support a cretin like George Bush. It’s just kinda sad when a guy from Germany acts in a fashion more befitting the real American spirit than certain “blind leading the blind” Americans do. In reality, Sean Killian’s constant war-mongering, flag waving rhetoric serves to be as much of a potential distraction to the viewer as the quotes from the musicians that he so vehemently disagrees with--there is just no need to go off on some redneck rampage during the numerous segments that either proceed or follow the various segments. “Leave the politics to the politicians, boys.” That may be the dumbest quote in history. With that type of mentality, a dictatorship would be the most desirable form of government.

It’s apparent that this video truly is a project carried out by those who love metal, since this obviously isn’t going to be an item that moves ten million copies or allows its producers to retire on the Riviera. Although I completely despise his politics, Sean Killian and Mark Osegueda are committed to spreading the word of metal just as everyone else appears to be who was involved in the production of this video. The tribute to Paul Baloff included in this edition will also score points with the viewer and possibly lead to a tear or two being shed by many a fan of the type of music that causes the blood to pump in the mornings and gives listeners a reason to seek something different from the norm. Tales from the Pit holds the viewer enraptured and will actually compel those who own a copy to go back and watch sections numerous times—kind of like Penelope Spheeris’ Decline of Western Civilization: The Metal Years did back in the day. This type of program devoted to the propagation of hard rock and thrash doesn’t come around often---pick this up---and throw up the metal sign in hopes that there is a volume 6.

* * * ½

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