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Formed in 1989 in Copenhagen, Denmark by Brian Petrowsky (vocals, guitars) and Morten Hansen (drums) Iniquity was one of the earliest underground metal bands of note in the country. The country’s earliest metal formations of note were Artillery, King Diamond, Mercyful Fate and Invocator. Iniquity released three demos that helped cement its reputation. In three successive years the band released as many demos, starting with “Words Of Despair” (1991), “Entering Deception” (1992) and “Promo 93” (1993), the latter saw the induction of drummer Jacob Olsen. “Serenadium”, the Iniquity debut album from 1996, is special as it is the only in the original constellation.

Regarded as one of Denmark’s oldest death metal bands together with the more groove/thrash metal oriented Konkhra, Iniquity predated perennial underdog Panzerchrist by some four years. Through out these demo sessions Iniquity underwent a number of stylistic iterations, and even a brief period of inactivity, before settling for a primal, technically refined death metal direction. On “Serenadium” Iniquity plays death metal that is primal in its ferocity, but its level of aggression is evened out by its atmospheric inclinations and stellar gloom. “Serenadium” combines the technicality of Sylvain Houde era Kataklysm and Doug Cerrito era Suffocation with the darkness of vintage Incantation.

‘Tranquil Seizure’ opens the album with its deceptive slow build-up and atmospheric embellishments but soon reveals its incredible aggression and technicality. ‘Prophecy Of the Dying Watcher’ has atmosphere break replete with cello and church organs. The title track, and ‘Spectral Scent’ are two of the more technical tracks of the record, effectively foreshadowing the direction the band would take in the future. The former is elevated by the excellent drumming and well-placed guitar – and bass solos while the latter opens with a drum introduction and concludes with a church organ and piano section. ‘Son Of Cosmos’ and ‘Prophecy Of the Dying Watcher’ were written by Mads Haarløv, who was part of Iniquity during its demo era. ‘Spectral Scent’ is concluded by an atmospheric organ and piano section that serves as an atmospheric interlude to ‘Mockery Retained to Obturate’. ‘Retorn’ is a refurbished track from “Promo 93”.

“Serenadium” was recorded at Borsing Recording with Jan Borsing producing. Sporting a production very much the standard of the time, it is very earthy and crunchy sounding. Borsing provides Iniquity with deep bass tones and a thundering low end that would become pretty much extinct a decade later. For the most part “Serenadium” has production work similar to the Monstrosity debut “Imperial Doom” and the 1993 Kataklysm EP “The Mystical Gate Of Reincarnation”. The artwork by Terkel Christensen looks like a budget reinterpretation of Dan Seagrave’s macabre otherworldly vistas. In all “Serenadium” is very much a product of its time from a technical standpoint. The album helped usher in an era of renewed interest in Danish underground metal.

Not only is “Serenadium” one of the more compelling Danish death metal records of its time, but the history behind its conception is equally fascinating. Jacob Olsen recorded all the drums for the album, but quit shortly after its completion. Jesper Frost-Jensen (of local upstarts Nations Of Death) joined Iniquity just before the release. Thus his picture ended up on the album as he inherited Olsen’s position (and later the brand name) as the original line-up disintegrated after the release of the album. The lyrics were a collective effort between Brian Petrowsky, Jacob Olsen and Mads Haarløv. “Serenadium” became the genetic blueprint for all Iniquity records. While the band grew more technical, despite wildly fluctuating line-ups, each record would always take “Serenadium” as an architectural template.

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The maiden (and, so far, only)  foray into visual media by California death metal trio Deeds Of Flesh embodies a lot, if not all, of what is wrong with mid-level label sanctioned extreme metal DVDs in general. Despite having a respectable setlist “Live in Montreal” shortsells the band, label, and genre in many ways. The DVD is low on worthwhile content and substantial features. The live portion, supposedly the product’s main selling point, of the DVD was recorded at Le Petit Campus, Montreal in 2004 – a student club that goes by the name Café Campus nowadays, has several notable defects. The package appears to be hastily thrown together in order to capitalize on the DVD craze. Sadly “Live in Montreal” screams amateur hackjob from each, and every party involved in the production of this package.

The main feature, and lion’s share, of the DVD is a live show from the Canadian leg of the “Reduced to Ashes” global touring campaign. The show in question was recorded at Le Petit Campus, Montreal in 2004 – a student club that now goes by the name Café Campus. It was shot on regular video since it was produced before the advent of High Definition, as a result the image quality tends to get grainy on larger screens. A single, mounted camera positioned in the middle of the venue was used to capture the show. Although there are a decent amount of wide, medium and close shots – all of it is just basic zooming. Since there are no actual close-up shots its impossible to see any of the rapid picking during the more intricate parts of the songs. Those expecting to see up-and-close drumming action are left wanting as there is no dedicated drum cam. This means that there are no shots whatsoever of Hamilton’s impressive stamina and endurance, and his nearly constant double bass footwork.

Truthfully, not all blame is to be placed at the director for “Live in Montréal” as Deeds Of Flesh themselves didn’t seem to have put any additional effort whatsoever in making this DVD special or different from similarly poorly put together packages in any conceivable way. There is no stage design (backdrop, banner, flags, or other props) to speak of – and there’s a complete lack of notable production values beyond the bare-bones capture of a live show. The setlist is a representative cross-section of the band’s catalog with only “Inbreeding the Anthropophagi” getting but a single track. The ominous introduction track, using a Christopher Young piece from the “Hellraiser II: Hellbound” soundtrack was a nice, but ultimately futile, effort on part of the band. While a live recording was indeed pined for the lack of extra features and worthwhile content is what make “Live in Montréal” as ill-conceived as it is. Even the sound options appear to be shortchanged. There are no sound options worthy of the name, and playing the DVD is only possible in basic stereo – forgoing the Dolby Surround 5.1 that was considered the widely accepted standard even by the time this DVD saw release. The main menu is beyond basic, as there’s no possibility to play just the show (discounting the “song selection” option, which isn’t the same thing).

Even though a second camera operator is briefly visible on-stage during ‘Human Trophies’, none of his shots ever appear on the DVD nor does he appear ever again after that. On top of that there are no edits, effects, transitions or ambient shots through out the entirety of the show, neither are there shots from the back, or side of the stage. It is unedited in the true sense of the word. Bobby Germain is credited as the reluctant director of the live show, and he, unsurprisingly, never directed anything again after partaking in this particular debacle. There was the possibility of a great production for “Live in Montréal” but nothing is made of the opportunity given, and the DVD delivers exactly what it says on the tin: a bare-bones capture of a live show. It is perhaps fitting that, like the music from Deeds Of Flesh, there’s nothing ornamental about “Live in Montréal”. Apparently no effort was made to make this an event. A wasted chance if there ever was one. Lindmark, Kingston and Hamilton are stellar musicians on their respective instruments, but “Live in Montréal” sadly, doesn’t reflect that in the slightest. It does anything but...

The DVD includes the official music video for ‘Crown Of Souls’ from the record of the same name. Curiously it omits any and all of the band’s prior music videos for the earlier albums. Specifically ‘Reduced to Ashes’ (from the album of the same name), and the unreleased ‘Indigenous To the Appaling (Mutinous Human’) from “Path Of the Weakening”. The ‘Crown Of Souls’ music video, directed by Benjamin Kantor, displays the sort of creativity that the rest of the DVD, in both content and presentation, sorely lacks. The “extra features” include the music video for ‘Crown Of Souls’ and the obligatory (and therefore instantly redundant) weblinks. That the latter was even touted as a feature was unforgiveable even by 2005 standards. The most damning aspect about “Live in Montréal” is that it has no additional bonus content besides the already very paltry so-called “extra features”.

No new artwork was allocated to make the DVD a recognizable stand-alone release. It remains puzzling as to why the Viking warrior artwork by Pär Olofsson from the “Crown Of Souls” album was reproduced in full as “Live In Montréal” has no connection to that release. The backsleeve, understandably, reproduced the cover artwork from the “Reduced to Ashes” album by Toshiro Egawa in full. This is only logical as it was that effort the band was promoting at the time of this DVD’s shooting. A lot of more care and effort should have invested on this DVD release.