Born In The Basement (DVD)
Out of the darkness, into the light
It seems that the recent resurgent thrash scene continues to gain momentum. After a long, long delay, the thrash metal documentary Get Thrashed: The Story Of Thrash Metal, is finally hitting select screens around America. The film directed by Rick Ernst soon enough announced that founding member of New York thrash act Overkill, drummer Rat Skates, would be on board as the film's associate producer and graphic designer. But during the filming of Skates' segments for the film, it came to be that Skates had much more to say on the scene from back in the day and more specifically the do-it-yourself ethic that many fledgling acts had at that point. Skates soon found himself putting together his own project, dubbed Born In The Basement.
Just about every band has a website nowadays, and I think it'd be safe to say that all have a MySpace page. But the thrash metal movement predates most of those youngsters' (who spend every waking hour on MySpace) existence and Skates has seen to it to explain just how things were done back then. The story dates back to the late 70s music scene, including the punk movement and the invasion of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal (N.W.O.B.H.M.) which was the source of musical inspiration and excitement for the scene's forefathers - Gary Holt, Kirk Hammett, Dave Mustaine, Lars Ulrih, James Hetfield, Kerry King, Scott Ian, Rat Skates and Danny Lilker - who were, according to Skates, leading the charge of the thrash revolution.
The jazz drumming trained Skates takes us back to the very beginnings of his musical journey. Skates takes us through a detailed history of Overkill which includes the recruitment and replacement of the numerous musicians that have been a part of the band such as guitarist Danny Spitz who later went on to join Anthrax and long standing vocalist Bobby “Blitz” Elsworth and bassist Carlo “D.D.” Verni as well as the band's musical and visual evolution from their humble beginnings as punk act The Lubricunts. At the same time, Skates also outlines the band's and also the scene's do-it-yourself attitude towards everything such as flyers, stickers, stage backdrops, drum risers and merchandise such as t-shirts. After eight years with the band though, Skates outlines exactly why he left the thrash act that he not only formed, but promoted, worked for, wrote for and performed with. It's an interesting insight into a burgeoning scene that sees a fledgling act truly come into their own.
There's a several extras which include a couple of radio interviews from 1986 and some rare video footage from that era as well (all from Skates' personal archive) as well as a deleted scene and a couple of interviews with one time band members. Whilst they are interesting enough, they are well served as extras with some not really offering much repeated viewing (or listening).
Whilst the Get Thrashed doco which spawned this idea takes a broader look at thrash metal, it's certainly an interesting companion piece that Skates has put together. One part of it certainly serves to satisfy diehard Overkill fans with the band's history being covered in great detail. But the bigger picture is aptly described by the D.V.D.'s title, Born In The Basement, with the main feature covering the painstaking rigours that Skates went through to bring his musical vision to the metal masses. This one is as much for thrash fans in general as it is for Overkill fans.