originally written by Chris McDonald
Impetigo’s role in metal history is a strange, obscure, yet undeniably important one. I can’t think of many other bands who have wielded such an inspirational force from behind a cloak of such utter anonymity. I’d venture to say that around two out of every ten modern-day metal fans have actually heard (or even heard of) Impetigo, but nine out of those ten have heard a band that took direct or indirect influence from this Illinois foursome. The band’s horror-themed lyrical focus, use of obscure movie samples, and the brutally fun tone of the music itself (spearheaded by Steve-O’s utterly maniacal vocals) would serve as a template for legions of goregrind and death metal outfits, and their oddball sense of humor and surprisingly effective musical approach has cemented their status as the definition of a “cult” metal band.
But while Impetigo still remains (and will likely always remain) mired in the dingiest depths of the metal underground, a growing number of people are finally starting to show some real appreciation for this band’s music and influence. Following Razorback Records’ excellent reissues of both of Impetigo’s full-lengths, Ultimo Mondo Cannibale and Horror of the Zombies, comes Defiling the Stage, a video anthology documenting all eras of Impetigo’s lifespan, from their earliest stages as a quirky local three-piece to their “glory days” in the early 90’s to their one-show reunion in 2007.
The first set comes from 1988, when Impetigo were a trio just starting to come together as a legitimate band, delivering primarily humorous satirical metal tunes with occasional bursts of grindy intensity. With a single camera angle and pretty average sound quality (not to mention the embryonic state of the band’s music itself), the primary draw of this show is vocalist/bassist Steve-O’s hilarious abuse of the venue’s small, apparently bored audience. Classic lines such as “Mom’s about to come through and vacuum, be sure you lift your feet up” should be especially gratifying for any musician whose ever played in front of eight stationary drunk people at some no-name barin the middle of the day.
The next two sets document the band’s heyday in 1991 and 1992, around the release of their two full-length albums. These shows are probably the most entertaining and worthwhile feature on this release as they document the band’s iconic days as an unheard-of force in the then-infantile extreme metal scene, complete with guttural zombie banter from Steve-O and all of the band’s classic songs, including “Dis-organized,” “Intense Mortification,”“Boneyard,” and “I Work For The Streetcleaner.” The sound quality and filming are more than adequate (although the 1992 set features a myriad of cheesy, disorienting video effects), and it should be a real treat for fans to have such a detailed look into the band when they were at their “peak,” so to speak.
The 2007 reunion gig makes up the final part of the package.The production quality of this filming is obviously superior to the others, and the band delivers their classic tracks admirably considering it was their first gig in fifteen years, with a couple of guest appearances that spice things up nicely. But while the reunion gig is certainly an enjoyable watch, I have a feeling that even newer Impetigo fans who have gotten into the band recently will appreciate the two 90’s sets more, as they really capture the band in their element at the time when they recorded their classic material. Regardless, I’m extremely glad that these guys got the opportunity to get together for one last show, and it warms this fan’s bones to see a band who spent their entire career as virtual unknowns garner such appreciation from a modern audience.
Defiling The Stage is a fantastic closing anthology for Impetigo appreciators, and the several pages of liner notes and included photo and artwork galleries only sweeten the deal. Whether you’ve been into the band since the beginning or have just recently jumped on the bandwagon, this DVD is a great purchase. Well done Deathgasm, and all hail Impetigo!