The long-awaited first official DVD for Italy's legendary Gothic metal band has arrived with Visual Karma (Body, Mind and Soul), a multi-disc set (up to four discs, depending on which version you get) documenting two festival performances, behind-the-scenes footage and some creative visual content contributed by the band and their fans. The end product is a mixed bag of treats that runs the gamut from profound and moving to just plain goofy, but almost always interesting... after all, this is a band that knows how to get you jumping, and they do it with style, grace and power.
The main DVD contains footage of the band's complete sets at two huge metal events in 2007: first, the legendary Wacken Open Air in Germany, followed by Japan's epic Loudpark festival. The Wacken set is performed during the day – which is kind of surprising, since I'd figured Lacuna Coil would be one of the headliners, who almost always perform after dark. The energy is always different during a daytime show, but this footage does give you a good chance to see the band's interaction with each other and the audience in more detail.On the other hand, the production quality and sound are far superior in the Wacken footage, compared to the dark and occasionally shaky images and muddy sound mix from Loudpark, and there are five more songs in the daytime set. We also don't get nearly as many good shots of the Loudpark crowd, which creates the (probably false) impression that the energy level is lower at this show. Still, the musicians themselves are in top form for both sets, with some variation between the two: Wacken contains performances of “In Visible Light,” “Fragile,” Depeche Mode cover “Enjoy the Silence,” older songs “Senzafine” and “Heaven's a Lie,” while Loudpark features “Within Me” and “Daylight Dancer.” The rest of their set lists are identical between the two; both open with the powerful riffage and soaring vocal chants of “To the Edge” and close with the up-tempo “Our Truth.” The band's instrumental and vocal skills are top-notch, and remarkably tight for a live show (particularly evident in Wacken's superior sound mix). I was especially impressed with the smooth vocal harmonies between Cristina Scabbia and Andrea Ferro – even at the top of their range they stay amazingly on-pitch, all the while criss-crossing the stage and working the crowd.Also included on the first disc are all the band's promo videos from Karmacode – none of which are worth writing home about (if I see another Gothic metal video set in a forest with fake snow falling around the band, I swear I'm gonna heft my breakfast), especially compared to their lush, sensual promos from albums like Comalies.The second DVD is a potpourri of mini-features, beginning with a fascinating series of short films, each directed by and starring a different member of the band. Cristina's segment is the most serious and professional-looking of the bunch, as she chronicles her charity work through which she helped finance a program to build a water well in a drought-plagued African village (in a cute aside, she points out how they spelled her name wrong on the well). It's also worth noting that the lovely singer, who has made just about every metal magazine and website's “Hottest Women in Metal” list on any given year, delivers her narration without makeup – and she still looks so damn gorgeous it hurts. Other band members take different themes for their segments: some opt for mini-travelogues of their home towns (featuring footage of Milan that's so beautiful I could just crap), while others take the comedy route: bassist Marco Zelati shows us just how critical heavy drinking factors into the creative process, and guitarist “Maus” Biazzi depicts himself having less-than-professional relations with his instruments (waaaaaay too much info, dude!). The most interesting of these is the film by drummer Criz Mozzati, who will completely blow your mind with multiple demonstrations of his martial arts skills. For me, this was one of the high points of the DVD.Next up is a series of behind-the-scenes featurettes: the first two cover two stops along the band's 2007 Karmacode tour: Australia and Japan... The next two segments are the obligatory “making the video” pieces for “Our Truth” and “Closer,” and although interesting in execution, they didn't really grab me since I wasn't particularly impressed with the end product in either case. I always felt the videos for “Swamped” and “Heaven's a Lie” were richer and more unique than these more mass-market efforts, but those are not included here.A fun fan segment entitled “Breaking the Code” rounds out the extras, broken up into the Top 10 video submissions from fans all around the world (cheesy, but cute), interviews and the results of the “To the Edge” remix contest. Plus, those who purchase the Special Edition package will also get two additional discs: the first a 5.1 surround DVD audio remix of Karmacode including some b-sides, and the other a CD containing the complete audio from the band's Wacken set.Despite some minor production flaws in the concert footage, this is one of the best documents available (legally, anyway) of the band's powerful stage presence, and a worthwhile entry in any metal fan's collection. I'm still waiting for a document of the band's complete live set, but between the two concerts covered here you get a pretty good overview of their creative high points. Hopefully with the release of next year's album Shallow Life, they'll have the opportunity to expand their tour itinerary and we'll get a chance to experience their dynamic style in person.