An excellent look at the underground Death Metal band.
I curse those who illegally download material. They have helped destroy the industry one theft at a time. There was a time when a band could put out music and make a living. Now because the music industry has fundamentally changed, band and record labels feel compelled to have value-added components to releases as an incentive for people to actually buy the physical product instead of stealing it. I’m seeing more and more CD/DVD packages where the album comes with a bonus DVD.
What annoys me is that normally this excellent Broken Hope documentary should be a stand-alone DVD housed in it’s own package. Hell, If I was in charge, it would have wide-spread theatrical release! Now it is relegated to bonus disc status on the latest album OMEN OF DISEASE. Back in October of 2013, our very own Peter reviewed the album itself and so, although the DVD and CD are a part of the same package, I will review the DVD as if it were a stand-alone product. As it stands, to the best of my knowledge you have to buy the double disc version to get the movie. What a rip-off for the band. True fans like me would buy the CD and the DVD. I’m old fashioned and I admit it. I want my DVD’s to look like DVD’s in a DVD case and my CD’s to look like CD’s in a CD jewel case, not some double-disc digipak nonsense.
25 YEARS OF SICKNESS-THE BROKEN HOPE STORY is a fairly conventional documentary. Logically it follows the history of the band through a series of interviews, footage and video clips. The production value is very good. Some of these things seem slapped together but there was some thought and budget put into this, with good graphics, layout, design and sound quality. The DVD is broken into three parts, the documentary, a gear guide hosted by Jeremy at Broken Hope central and a copy of their only video to date, ‘Into The Necrosphere’. The whole DVD runs about 2 hours with the movie running 1 hour and 43 minutes.
The documentary proper is broken into nine chapters, one for each major era of the band, roughly divided along the lines of an album. The entire doc was anchored by an extensive interview with founder and main-man Jeremy Wagner. It was shot with two cameras in one location, it would have been nice to mix up the angles or location just a bit. Jeremy seems like a level headed guy and has a good grasp on his place in the pantheon of Death Metal was proud but not boastful of his role and success in the early wave of American Death Metal.
I would have liked a bit more detail on some things, the information provided on certain eras was pretty sparse. As things were ending for the bands first era, there were a lot of changes and lots of different people were in the band but only get lip-service. I guess he did not want to emphasize the rougher times and overall the tone of the movie was positive. There was surprisingly little personal info, little talk of wives, booze, drugs, lifestyles, it was a very music-based documentary. Wagner did mention that he became a professional writer during the decade of inactivity. I reviewed his book THE ARMAGEDDON CHORD here at Metal-Rules.com if you are interested to read it.
There was lots of footage of the band fooling around, on tour, on stage in the studio, it seems someone always had a camera running. In terms of documentaries, I really like this 80’s-90’s era. In the 70’s footage of bands was very limited as hand-held cameras were rare and expensive. Existing footage is often film format and it is old and often grainy with poor sound quality. Good footage is rare and obscure. In the modern age EVERYONE documents EVERYTHING and it gets so mundane with daily studio reports posted instantly on social media. The magic and mystery of making an album or going on tour is gone. However, in that brief period of the late 80’s to the 90’s, it still was a novelty to capture stuff on personal cameras and Broken Hope has some great footage. There was even some footage of their very first gig! I liked the footage where they sign a six-album deal with Metal Blade. Of course we know that deal only ever produced three albums and a reissue of the debut (with alternate cover art for all you trivia hounds), so they must have got out of the deal when the band imploded. The film is loaded with lots of neat moments like that one.
There was an extended segment talking about and paying tribute to former singer Joe ‘Esophagus’ Ptacek who took his own life back in 2010. Joe is still revered today as one of the most unique and brutal death Metal vocalists of all time and I whole-heartedly agree. There was any number of people paying tribute to him and his talent. He was one the main reasons that Broken Hope remains one of my favourite Death Metal bands, that and Jeremy absolutely sick lyrics!
The movie ends with many of the people who appeared in the film being interviewed saying a few kind words of congratulations for the 25th anniversary of the band. The band of course is experiencing a resurgence in popularity with a few successful tours and a killer new album. I’m not sure how necessary this movie is to anyone except fans of the band and curious Death Metal fans. Accordingly I might have rated it lower based on that fact, however, Broken Hope remain one of my favourite bands in this style and 25 YEARS OF SICKNESS is very well done so that may explain my higher than normal rating.
No Videos Available
Chapter 1 – 25 Years of Sickness: the Broken Hope Story
1. Demo Era
2. Swamped in Gore Era
3. The Bowels of Repugnance Era
4. The Repulsive Conception Era
5. The Loathing Era
6. The Grotesque Blessings Era
7. The Hiatus Period
8. In Memory of Joe Ptacek
9. The Resurrection of Broken Hope
10. Broken Hope Gear Guide
11. Into the Necrosphere