Through Eyes of the Dead is American extreme metal band Necrophagia’s first video compilation, first released in 2000. It consists of clips for five original songs, interspersed with brief snippets of interview footage. Most of these songs are taken from the 1998 album “Holocausto de la Morte”. The clips combine footage of the band performing with scenes from horror films.
Necrophagia are something of an institution in the metal universe. Still recording and performing into their fourth decade, they were actually one of the first death metal bands to materialize, as early as 1983 – although they were never rewarded with the kind of reputation attained by similarly gore-obsessed peers like Carcass or Cannibal Corpse.
Judging from the music in Through Eyes of the Dead, one possible reason for this is the fact that the band’s style is very much a hybrid: while the vocals somehow manage to combine the unintelligible growl of death metal with the incomprehensible screech of black metal, the music is an intoxicating blend that mixes gnarly death and thrash with bong-soaked doom and sludge, subject to more tempo changes than an epileptic orgy.
But let’s face it – Necrophagia were never going to gain mainstream acceptance with their allegiance to cheesy horror and over-the-top gore. Through Eyes of the Dead, their first video release, was even banned in Australia – which is fitting, as some of the references made and scenes shown are from films, such as Cannibal Holocaust and The Beyond, that were originally censored or banned there.
Necrophagia proudly spout their manifesto during the brief interview excerpts; they want you to know that it’s the classic stuff that counts – grindhouse, video nasties, anything with an underground stench – not the “new shit”. Drummer Wayne Fabra extols the virtues of Amityville II: The Possession (1982) over the more celebrated original, while vocalist and band leader Killjoy (who was actually one of the writers and directors of the ultra-gory August Underground’s Mordum), tells us that getting
The August Underground connection would resurface in Necrophagia: Sickcess, a pseudo-documentary available on the Necrotorture live DVD (2005) credited to Killjoy and August Underground mastermind Fred Vogel, whose film studio Toe Tag Pictures worked on stage design and props for the band’s live shows. Ditto underground goremeister extraordinaire Ryan Nicholson (Gutterballs); segments of his debut feature Torched are used in Necrophagia’s second video, Nightmare Scenarios (2004). So hardcore gorehounds can rest assured that the band’s credentials are well in order.
The creative force behind the camera on Through Eyes of the Dead, however, is Jim Van Bebber, who made a (crimson) splash in underground circles with his debut feature, the gritty and gory actioner Deadbeat at Dawn (1988), and most recently shot and appeared in the American Guinea Pig gorefest. Footage from his short film Roadkill: The Last Days of John Martin (1988) is featured during the song “Burning Moon Sickness”, and has a very effective ’70s grindhouse look.
Aside from the all-out tribute to Lucio Fulci’s The Beyond that accompanies “And You Will Live in Terror”, cramming all the iconic and gory moments of the film into a single video clip, the rest of the songs play over cheaply made mini-movies full of graphic mutilation and dismemberment, each starring one of the members of the band. “Deep Inside, I Plant the Devil’s Seed” treats us to a Satanic ritual involving the molestation of a nun. “Blood Freak” details the graduation of a sadistic maniac from eviscerating wildlife to jerking off over the fresh corpse of a young woman. “Embalmed, Yet I Breathe”, the least violent of the five clips, features Pantera vocalist Phil Anselmo (under the pseudonym Anton Crowley), who joined the band (with his wife, briefly) on guitar for a few years.
With its infectious riffs, snail-crawl dirges, cheesy lyrics, sexual violence and splatter, and endless soundbites from controversial horror classics, Through Eyes of the Dead is obviously tailor-made for fans of underground metal and horror. The lack of sophistication in both the music and visuals reflects the simple, low-brow and defiant ethic of the films that inspire the band. You get a lot of bang for your buck, considering the movie runs for less than half an hour (with interviews and more clips featured on the DVD). But if you’re still reading, I can only assume I’m preaching to both the converted and the perverted.