Slipknot - Disasterpieces/Ani DiFranco - Render review by The Grim Ringler

Slipknot - Disasterpieces, Ani DiFranco - render

I know, I know, it looks like the header is the punch line to some odd joke, well, heck, maybe it is, I mean imagine a guy thats generally into more aggressive music (Slipknot) and thats all about the angry rock, but also loves Ani DiFranco, new-folk wunderkind thats taken the indie scene by storm for years. How on earth did those to tastes come together? Who can say? What I can say is that while both discs feature music that couldnt be more diametrically opposed to one another, these are two really great examples of what can be done with the DVD/music video medium.

First up we have Slipknot, the love them or hate them anger-junkies that get more press for what they wear than what they say. Its one of those oh, theyre a dress-up band thats all angry, oooo, I get it, how funny which is a shame to me (a self-avowed fan) because thats exactly the line that rock music got when the stuff was still new and shiny. In a world of pop princesses and crossover punk, angry music is out and anything dark is definitely out. Judging them on appearances, or by the cacophony they bring musically is not a fair judgment, just as it is not fair to judge Ani as a man-hater because she speaks frankly about sex and relationships. You will not get a warm fuzzy feeling from hearing Slipknot, but you will get honest, heartfelt, if dark, music that, if nothing else, is as valid a statement of pain and confusion as a ballad is a valid way of expressing love and devotion. Whether they are good or not is, to me, up to the individual. As far as concert videos go, this is a hell of a show. In support of their Iowa album, this concert has Slipknot in total rock star mode. The stage is huge, the audience is huge, and the excitement is palpable. Shot with several cameras, the concert is filmed brilliantly and really manages to showcase each member of the nine-piece and give you a feel of what their part in the noise is. But always leading the way is singer Corey, always focusing the chaos directly at the audience and feeding on their intensity. And during the concert there are two very cool asides, one an extended drum solo as the drum twists upside-down Tommy-Lee style, and the other being a DJ solo that is something to see. Aside from the concert the two-disc set features all of the bands videos and allows you access to several camera angles during certain songs. Definitely not for everyone, this is truly a love letter to the fans of Slipknot and shows why they have gained such a following. Not many bands are able to let it all go and leave it on the stage, they are one of the few that do.

Next we have Ani DiFranco, one of the most talented and under appreciated performers working in rock today. Featuring a style that is a mix of folk and punk, Ani began small, starting her own label and doing everything herself, and has managed to grow her empire with each successive album. Today Ani is one of the most gifted and interesting performers I have come across and never ceases to amaze me with her musical bravery (she has shut out criticism from her fans and has continued following her own musical bliss, going from a solo performer, to a three piece, and now to a full backing band with a heavy funk influence) and her continued passion. More of a look at Ani on stage and behind the scenes, Render is a really wonderful work. The concert footage mixes several of her shows so you get a feel of what they can be like, from the smaller, more personal songs she sings by herself, to the larger, funkier numbers that feature a large backing band and has her stomping across the stage as she plays her guitar. The behind the scenes footage is split between showing Ani mixing songs in a studio to talking about her hometown of Buffalo, NY, and even has moments of her talking about her political and social views. A lot of people would come off as smarmy and self-serving in the latter clips where she talks about social issues, but her honesty and sincerity make it feel less like she wants to tell people how to run the world than she wants people just to run it better. This is a wonderful disc for longtime fans and for new fans alike and is really a celebration of an amazing and gifted artist.

You cannot get much further in sound than Slipknot and Ani, but I think at their hearts they say the same thing be honest with yourself and the world and deal with the world as best you can. Both discs are outstanding efforts and really do justice to their respective acts. If nothing else, they are great mementos for their fans of how much music can really mean and how much it can make you think and feel.


9 out of 10 Jackasses

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