Sotajumala/Survivors Zero
Slaughter at Lutakko (DVD)

Slaughter at Lutakko documents the last show of a tour that brought Finnish death metal trio Sotajumala, Deathchain and Survivors Zero together. Unfortunately, due to technical difficulties, Deathchain’s gig was cut from the release, but there’s still an hour and a half worth of material on the disc. Since I’m not familiar with Survivors Zero, who come out and make a decent introduction for themselves here, I’m going to be a pretentious prick and consider Slaughter at Lutakko a Sotajumala DVD. I’ll come back to Survivors Zero in the near future with a review of their latest album CMXCIX.

Sotajumala puts out an energetic show and the crowd responds nicely with fists in the air, circle pits and other shenanigans. There’s some monkey business going on on-stage as well, being the last show of the tour and all, with the other bands and other people crowding the stage among other things. Hell, even the Cthulhu makes an appearance. Vocalist Mynni Luukkainen seems to be doing a good job at feeding the audience with violence and with very Finnish jocularity (“We’ve got better guitarists than Manowar!”). Sotajumala pummels through songs from pretty much all of their albums, giving a well deserved bias to 2007’s Teloitus.

The technical issues that slaughtered Deathchain off the DVD manifest themselves on the disc as well. For example, during a particular Sotajumala frenetic attack, the sound is muted and the image makes the transition from a test screen to a “One Moment Please” screen before cutting back to the action as the band is wrapping up a song and thanking the audience for the participation. It’s said that Sotajumala had to cut one song completely from the DVD as well, which makes me wonder if the whore, that is Lady Luck, took out “Oikeutus” as I can’t think of any other reason for the fan-favorite to be missing. One might wonder why the whole moratorium is left on disc, but to me it defends its place, for it tells about the moment―there and then―and also keeps the timeline intact. Leave Quantum Leaps to Scott Bakula. Things happen on stage, some are planned, some are not but it’s all definitely real and live ― and here, it’s on tape.

There are a handful of cameras in use, covering most of the action in a purposeful way. The editing does a decent job presenting the big picture, avoiding the pitfalls of strobe-cuts and other confusing high jinks that trigger epilepsy. While the action and narration remain clear throughout, the directing doesn’t go the extra mile to flesh out a truly religious experience. A shame, considering Sotajumala is playing on their home turf and they seem to be doing a good job at it, so it might have been quite a magical moment. With extra planning, I’m quite certain they could have captured the action in a slightly more artistic, and definitely more intimate way that would have left the viewers in sweat and muscle pains.

Thankfully, there aren’t any stupid special effects, unless you count the few cameras that are shooting in black and white. One minor gripe I have is that the songs haven’t been divided into chapters, so watching a certain song can be a bit of a drag with your basic DVD-player. The image quality varies from crisp to soft as it’s quite clear the crew had to scavenge and utilize a bunch of different cameras, but that doesn’t bother me one bit.

The sound is unfortunately the weakest link of the release. The mix should pack more punch and feature better clarity. Sotajumala skinsman Timo Häkkinen is quite upfront, his double bass drums going from slightly overpowering to dominating. The mix of Survivors Zero’s 30-minute set is a bit more balanced for reason or another, but in general the sound will leave Hi-Fi aficionados teary eyed. Sure, the nature of the beast is a raw, unedited night of death metal (spiced with technical difficulties related to sound) but goshdarnit, it still should have been better, bigger, clearer. Death metal or not.

Extras are quite basic, with a couple of music videos thrown in next to a photo gallery. The biggest bonus for drummers and roadies is in the form of two Timo Häkkinen drumcams that showcase the man’s talent up close and personal. Not only did he arm wrestle a good portion of the mix for himself, he also called dibs to the most interesting bonus features and, on top of that, happens to sport the mightiest of beards. Cue to Andrew Dice Clay saying “That fucking guy!”

Slaughter at Lutakko is an honest, no-bullshit live DVD. It gets the job done: portraying two bands playing death metal live. It’s bound to entertain the fans of the bands but everyone else will most likely be left slightly cold. Quite possibly even a few fans will feel the wrong kind of chills, due to the sound being what it is. Compared to the other DVD that just came out, namely Primordial’s All Empires Fall, the differences are night and day — but so were the budgets and modus operandi.

Slaughter at Lutakko is what it is: a live show caught on tape, presented in an uncensored manner. It’s a DVD that would have had a bigger impact as a bonus disc to the bands’ latest releases — then it would’ve been an outstanding bang for the buck. Fortunately, it’s not the priciest of DVDs either, so for those that crave to see Sotajumala live (and, of course, Survivors Zero) but can’t, it’s worth checking out. Just don’t expect Slaughter at Lutakko to leave a lasting impression.

Despite its shortcomings, I was entertained by the handful of times I spun the disc. But, I wasn’t floored. I’m sure Sotajumala will fix that for me once the summer  arrives with its various heavy metal festivities. Meanwhile, the people seem to be digging the DVD more than I, as Slaughter at Lutakko shot itself to number one spot on the Finnish Music DVD chart, stinger-ing Iron Maiden’s Flight 666 out of the sky and manhandling Michael Jackson’s Number Ones to the third place.

It appears Death Metal is alive and kicking.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Mikko K.
March 31st, 2010

Comments

  1. Commented by: Juan Pinto

    Finland must be one of the best countries in the world, if not THE best… Not only does Iron Maiden reach spot 2 on the charts over Michael Jackson, but also a low budget DVD (low budget from what I gather from the review)from a Death Metal show tops the charts! Only in Finland…


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