I’ve decided to start a recurring series wherein I watch and review some old-ass metal-related VHS tapes that I own – many of them not available on DVD for various reasons. They will be reviewed based on both the quality of the content, as well as the quality of the product itself. My first Old-Ass VHS Review is a tape I’ve owned since I was 12 years old, Oidivnikufesin – N.F.V., by New York thrash metal giants Anthrax.
I received N.F.V. as a gift for my 12th birthday. I remember having to describe the cover for my mom, and I also remember drawing a quick-sketch dummy cover for her, so she would know what to look for when she went to the store to pick it up. The title, in case you’re wondering, is a backward purposeful misspelling of “Nice Fuckin’ Video”, hence the “N.F.V.” I’m not entirely sure what that’s all about, but I do know that Anthrax also had a song called “Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.)” on their breakthrough 1987 album Among the Living, as well as a song called “Dallabnikufesin (N.F.B.)” on their Grammy® nominated 1991 compilation Attack of the Killer B’s (best known for “Bring the Noise,” their ground-breaking collaboration with Public Enemy). I’ve always assumed it was their way of fucking with dummies who think metal is all about evil backward messages.
Anyway, I’ve owned N.F.V. for a very long time, and I’ve watched it more times than I could even begin to recall, but a few nights ago, I watched it again. I did it for you, faithful reader, so that I could put together this highly professional review. Onward!
The setlist is pretty fuckin solid here. The show was recorded at London’s world-famous Hammersmith Odeon music hall on November 16, 1987. The band was on tour with Testament, in support for Among the Living, so 5 of the 12 songs come from that album, but they also played 5 songs from 1985’s Spreading the Disease (their first full-length to feature Joey Belladonna on vocals), as well as “Metal Thrashing Mad”, from their 1984 debut Fistful of Metal, and their metal-rap crossover hit “I’m the Man”. Joey’s voice is a little bit shaky on the first two songs, but by the time “Metal Thrashing Mad” gets rolling, he is in top form. The camera work is great, and you might notice a distinct lack of split-screens and quick cuts, both of which have a strong tendency to ruin more modern concert recordings. The camera focuses on the right things at the right times, and there are plenty of crowd shots to remind you that this band was bloody legendary in England in the late 80s (they had two songs on the charts there at the time of this recording).
This is a VHS tape, so there are no extras, but they would be superfluous anyway; this performance is damn near flawless. Here’s an extra: at one point during “N.F.L.”, you see like one second of a little kid (certainly less than 12 years old) banging his head so goddamn hard, and that’s pretty fucking awesome.
The band as a whole is unfuckingtouchable on this recording, but if I had to choose some highlights, I’d choose “Metal Thrashing Mad”, “A.I.R.”, “N.F.L.”, and show closer “Gung Ho”. Bassist Frank Bello (one of heavy metal’s true Unsung Heroes) is particularly righteous on “A.I.R.”. The way the band inserts worldwide megahit (and all-around awesome jam) “I’m the Man” (which is probably the single biggest influence on the “nü metal” genre, for better or for worse*) into the performance of “A.I.R” is pretty amazing, too.
Aside from a single black line that pops up during the ninth song (“Armed and Dangerous”), there is no real way to tell that this is a VHS tape you’re watching. You’d never assume you were watching a Blu-Ray or anything, but considering how many times I’ve watched this, it’s holding together exceptionally well.
The Bottom Line:
This performance is tight as hell. The band was nearing the very tip-top of their game at this point in their long and complicated career. I recommend you watch it. I think it’s available on DVD, but I don’t feel like researching it right now. I know you can watch the entire show on YouTube, if you’re into that. If you wanna come to my house and watch it with me, that’s cool. If you wanna bring over a blank tape and teach me how to hook up two of my VCRs so I can make a copy for you, that’s cool, too. What I’m trying to say is, if you’re a fan of Anthrax, and you haven’t seen this, you need to change that ASAP. Do what you have to do. If my words haven’t convinced you, watch this:
That’s it for my first edition of Old-Ass VHS Reviews. I hope you enjoyed it. Until next time, don’t forget to stay heavy.
* Just kidding, it was obviously for worse.