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Testament Seen Between the Lines

By Mark "The World Eater" Morton, Contributor
Thursday, September 15, 2005 @ 10:09 PM


(Escapi Music)

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Forgive the ‘state of the world’ commentary that ensues. We live in a digital age, where audio and video can be remixed, remastered, reprocessed, and re-envisioned with the touch of a button. So naturally, one would have high hopes venturing into a ‘remastered’ DVD edition of Testament’s long out-of-production home video Seen Between The Lines. Not only has Testament endured nearly two decades of tidal shifts in metal popularity, but they are among the very few that have come through with heads held high, integrity and fan-appeal intact, releasing ambitious album after ambitious album, weathering any storm thrown their way.

So it is with heavy heart that this reviewer must denigrate a DVD that should otherwise serve as a testimony to Testament’s ferocity and finesse. Content-wise, Seen Between the Lines consists of six live tracks from the ‘Souls of Black’ tour, four studio videos, two behind-the-scenes featurettes displaying the band’s experience in Japan (in actuality, it is one featurette cut in half), a photo gallery, abbreviated artist biography, and a select discography; features one would typically expect from a music DVD nowadays. However, there are several problems contained herein...

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The concert footage claims to have an option of ‘original audio’ and ‘remastered audio’, but the difference in quality is nearly indecipherable. The sound and picture quality of the concert recalls a third-generation fan-filmed bootleg, which one would expect from a VHS tape, but not a DVD. I’ve actually seen bootlegs of better quality than this, and in fact, Testament’s own officially bootleg series available from TestamentLegions.com are superior to this production. The sound is completely muddled, reminiscent of a Brutal Truth concert, and is something Earache Records would utilize as bonus material on a DVD, rather than the primary feature.

While the studio videos are a nice trek down memory lane, it would have been nice of Escapi to dig further into Testament’s archives and compile a more complete video segment; only “Nobody’s Fault,” “Practice What You Preach,” “Souls of Black” and “The Legacy” are represented. As well, the Chapter Menu does not differentiate the live tracks from the videos, so the viewer doesn’t know what segment they are watching until they make a choice. The behind-the-scenes, candid camcorder features are entertaining, if you are interested in watching Testament eat sushi, ride a train, and get eaten by flies on their way to tour a Kyoto Temple, but there are no major anecdotal moments; like seeing Dimmu Borgir playing at the beach (World Misanthropy) or Cradle of Filth destroying a hotel room or drunkenly stumbling through a forest (Heavy, Left-Handed and Candid). Usually, Escapi does a fine job of mixing, editing, and compiling DVDs (i.e. Krux, Candlemass, Force of Evil), but this one truly does not make the cut.

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