Bay Area residents Testament never really made it into the long-lasting pantheon of thrash metal bands enjoyed by such monolithic riff masters as Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax. Yet they did reach a good, solid level of success for a number of years that begun with their debut album The Legacy in 1987 - five years after they formed under the name Legacy.
Seen Between The Lines suffers from a number of problems. It's a haphazard collection of stuff - part 'on the road' documentary, part live footage, part interviews with the band members and part backstage tomfoolery.
Initially, Seen Between The Lines was released back in 1991 on VHS. It was recorded during the band's successful 1991 American tour, which saw them at their most popular and commercial. Now it achieves the full makeover treatment and transfer to DVD but unfortunately, it doesn't look as though it actually has been remastered. Instead, it looks like a dodgy bootleg copy that would struggle to go for a fiver on Blackpool front.
From the get go, the picture quality is very grainy and rough while the camerawork seems so amateur it could even embarrass a postgraduate film student. The camera angles are very banal which are simply straight, back and side shots. There are even a few close shots of the huge on-stage speakers - why?
The songs are typically heavy and brutal with some truly beast-like riffs but they can't be enjoyed because of such lame sound quality.
Basically, Seen Between The lines is disjointed. This annoying trend of slicing interviews and back-stage antics into live concerts is irritating and more appropriate as extra footage, leaving a full-uncontaminated gig. It is especially frustrating when the DVD is being marketed as a live DVD. The feel and texture of the concert is lost and doesn't really do the band justice.
Black Sabbath tried it on their reunion DVD The Last Supper and it didn't work there either. Although Godsmack's recent, glossy Changes DVD is a much more professional attempt that works better as a 'life on the road' revelatory documentary and tale of discovery. There aren't even screen titles on Seen Between The Lines to say who the band members are when they are being interviewed!
Tagged onto the end of the 40-mintue documentary is promotional music videos from Atlantic Records archives for Nobody's Fault, Practice What You Preach, Soul Of Black and The Legacy.
The extras include a detailed up-to date biography, a discography, image gallery, and a segment called Dinner With Testament, which is exactly that. There is also some entertaining footage of the quintet in Tokyo.
Even though some of the interviews are illuminating and the backstage antics are a laugh, it is a shame the picture and sound quality of the live footage is so feeble. Testament are planning to play a few European summer shows in 2005, so there is your chance to see them live in the flesh - Seen Between the Lines does not honestly represent the best of their sound.