Various Black Mark: Metal by Metal

As a study of the art of music videos, Metal by Metal would be a dismal failure, but as a celebration of DIY metal video-making and of Black Mark's involvement in the mid- to late '90s Swedish metal scene, this DVD deserves a certain amount of respect. The focus is on a relatively few bands, six in total, with four of them appearing twice. It's interesting to see member changes unfolding onscreen, like Memento Mori and Edge of Sanity appearing with different vocalists, and Kristian Andren moving between Tad Morose and Memento Mori. The rare (if rough) official video appearance of Dan Swanö in Edge of Sanity's "Black Tears" is a special treat, but videos by Cemetary and Lake of Tears are also a good source of nostalgia. The beautiful horror movie cheesiness of the disc's thunderstorm sound effects and menu perfectly complement the low-budget atmosphere of the videos themselves. Few, if any, of these visual creations would have made it to North American music television, whether for their low quality, the obscurity of the bands, or just bad timing, so it's nice to see them gathered together on one DVD. Liner notes that consist of little more than a track list and cover images from each band's complete (Black Mark) back catalogue suggest that Metal by Metal may just be a marketing ploy, and there's no denying the disc is sadly barren of extras: no bios, no member lists, weblinks or even release years for the videos or albums. And a bonus track by Aggressor doesn't quite fill that void. Still, whether you followed these bands at the time or discovered them later (or never at all), Metal by Metal is a fun trip into the archives. (Black Mark, www.blackmark.net)