What can I say about my people that hasn't already been said? The contributions of the Italian people in the areas of art, architecture, cinema, cuisine, literature, science, music, sports, among others, over the past two thousand years remain unmatched by any other peoples. One area, however, where Italians have failed to match other nations in terms of lasting output is heavy metal. Sure, there's a handful of legenday Italian metal bands (Bulldozer, Schizo, and Necrodeath, just to name a few), but compared to countries like Brazil, Germany, and Sweden they have a lot of catching up to do.
Which brings me to the mighty Death SS and this brain-melting video of theirs I found on YouTube. First though, a little history for our readers. Death SS were the first metal band to ever come out of Italy, formed way back in 1977 by Paul Chain (real name Paolo Catena) and Steve Sylvester (real name Stefano Silvestri) and inspired by their love of punk, heavy metal, and old horror movies. Chain conceived of the name (supposedly the SS is an homage to the punk spirit and has nothing to do with Nazism, uh... okay) and Sylvester came up with the idea of each band member dressing like a horror movie character--a vampire on vocals, death and a zombie on guitars, a mummy on bass, and a werewolf on drums. Kind of a brilliant idea, if you ask me. Their sound, described as "horror music" by the band, is a mix of classic heavy metal, doom, and thrash. Sylvester eventually left the group in 1982 and was replaced by some guy named Sanctis Ghoram who dressed as a Necromancer. In 1984, after recording their "Evil Metal" EP, Chain decided to disband Death SS. Foolishly, however, Chain neglected to copyright anything and in 1988 Sylvester reformed Death SS with new members and without Chain. The band has regrettably carried on in one form or another since then with Sylvester the only remaining original band member. Their costumes and music have only gotten more retarded over time and they now basically look and sound like a Marilyn Manson cover band:
But now for the real treat. This video is for the song "Kings of Evil" from Death SS's 1989 album Black Mass and what a video it is! Watching this video reminds me of the first time I drove down the strip in Las Vegas--total sensory overload. There's just so much going on that your brain can't process it all and eventually it just shuts down to keep from exploding. With this in mind, I'm going to try my best to break it all down for you, our loyal readers.
1. The Introduction: What the fuck is that I'm looking at? A screen shot from Castlevania? The 8-bit fire morphing into what looks like the face of the guy from Altered Beast and the scrolling band logo must have cost a cool 200,000 Lira (roughly equivalent to about $40). Keep in mind I speak Italian and I can't even make out what's being said, even though he's clearly speaking English. Cute band montage. A little shaky on the camera work though.
2. The Band Performance: Where do I begin? No, really. How about I begin with the buff, shirtless, hooded executioner dude just chillin' on the left side of the screen. He looks kind of bored. Doesn't he realize that by participating in this video he's being immortalized in metal history? I guess not. How about the band costumes though? Incredible! They look like a cross between Kiss and the Munsters (they're certainly no better looking) and they are rocking the fuck out! And it's all before a live studio audience! I have no idea where or when this was broadcast, but my guess is late at night on Rete 4 alongside phone sex ads. I can totally picture Steve Sylvester asking his little old grandmother (no doubt dressed in black from head to toe) to knit him that sweater and sew on that cape for Carnevale. A skull on the microphone stand? Could that be an homage to King Diamond's infamous microphone handle made of bones? Killer wooden crosses and giant cardboard cut-out logo hanging above the band. These guys must have been a huge influence on Mortuary Drape. Notice I haven't even said a word yet about the song itself? Yeah, I think it speaks for itself. Also, what's with that five seconds of the band posing with naked chicks before they abruptly cut to ten seconds of live concert footage at the end? So many questions, so little answers!