Genitorturers: Live In Sin (DVD)


Review by Gregory S. Burkart

I knew going in that Live In Sin would be one of the most challenging DVDs to review on this site. Not because I don't enjoy the antics of this band ? far from it, in fact. Their live performances are almost indescribable and a hell of a lot of fun, assuming one is extremely open-minded. But the real challenge, as you may imagine, is to carefully navigate journalistic standards and practices in order to accurately describe the contents. To begin with, I can't show you much of the cover art; suffice to say it involves lead singer Gen erotically menacing a virginal young waif by way of an extremely large knife.

Still with me? Well, that's good, because I can't list the names of some of the songs either, or repeat the lyrics to most of them. If you still don't know what you're in for, the least I can do is provide a little history piece to prepare you properly.

Founded by Gen in Orlando, Florida around 15 years ago, this sex-crazed, industrial metal band sprang up from the same scene that birthed Marilyn Manson, with a similar dark musical aesthetic given a new twist by Gen's vocal style ? which calls to mind a female Rob Zombie (not surprisingly, the band has worked with Rob's long-time producer Scott Humphrey). But what really solidified their niche internationally was the completely deranged pornographic performance art show that accompanied their live gigs, and earned them the distinction of being the first rock band to get a 12-page spread in Hustler. If this footage is any indication, the Genitorturers haven't softened their approach in the slightest ? aside from some disappointing new material that has Gen sounding like an X-rated Gwen Stefani ? that is, if you can manage to see it through the haze of some annoyingly over-produced video.

And therein lies my other challenge: watching this entire presentation without getting a migraine from the endless parade of flash-cuts, triple-layered images, strobe lighting and digital trickery. I got the impression that someone paid top dollar for Adobe AfterFX or similar post-production software, and they were damn well going to get their money's worth by using every single crayon in the box.

But where's the justification? You go to a Genitorturers show to hear some brain-blistering rock & roll, courtesy of a statuesque blonde in a leather top-hat who performs unnatural acts on hapless audience volunteers while large portions of the stage burst into flames, and you'll definitely get your money's worth; there's plenty to keep your eyes and ears (to say nothing of other organs) occupied. Digital pyrotechnics can't compare to the astounding acts taking place on that stage ? and in this case, they really get in the way. Maybe it was the only means by which they could steer clear of presenting outright porn... but considering the things we see Gen do to a nubile victim with a lollipop and a super-soaker, I doubt they're really that concerned.

That said, I should make clear that these folks really know how to rock ? thanks to some top-notch musical talent, including Morbid Angel's David Vincent (aka ?Evil D,? also Gen's husband) and drummer Andy Selway of KMFDM and PIG. Gen is also a powerful vocalist who doesn't merely hide behind the sexy shtick but sings with a raw, unhinged passion while remaining tight and assured.

The set list covers all of the band's greatest hits, including my personal faves ?Flesh Is The Law,? from the album of the same name, and ?Asphyxiate? from Sin City. I didn't care much for new songs ?Devil In A Bottle? and ?Tell Me,? as the approach seems a bit pedestrian and mainstream compared to their uncompromising earlier material. Plus Gen does that weird, higher-range Gwen Stefani thing I mentioned earlier, which just doesn't do anything for me. But the new track that opens the set (the title of which I can't print here) is a real burner, and hopefully their forthcoming CD release (scheduled for early 2008) will carry that vibe instead.

The sound mix is top-notch for the most part, with a few odd exceptions. I did get the impression that some studio sound augmentation was involved here and there, as some portions go slightly out of sync, but this is mostly during the new material (as well as some insert shots that look like they were recorded separately and edited in), but it blends into the overall mix nicely.

The stage production ? what I could see of it behind the video editor's rampant noodling ? is tailored to the content of each song, and you can probably imagine by some of the titles that the visual elements are as wild as anything you've ever seen. People swinging wildly from the ceiling on Cenobite-style flesh-hooks? Got 'em. Naughty naked nuns? Check. Blood-covered sex toys? They're all in there, wielded by Gen and crew in blasphemous ways Doc Johnson probably never intended. Wait, did I mention the lesbian mud wrestling?

I should probably take a moment to mention that this DVD is not suitable for children.

Although I was seriously disappointed by the overcooked post-production, hearing the live performances reminded me how fun this band is to groove to. Considering the often malicious content ? and context ? of their songs, it's actually a very energizing, empowering kind of music, with a real get-on-your-feet vibe. I'm looking forward to the new album (despite those two advance tunes leaving me a bit cold) and hopefully I'll tell you all about it here. In the meantime, I'm not sure if I can heartily recommend this DVD as basic sit-down viewing, but it would make an awesome party video... at least for the people I like to party with.