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progVisions is a progressive rock e-zine, published in English and made by an international group of members. Our objective is to become a centre of information that contributes to the knowledge, growth and development of progressive rock.

dvd & video review

Saviour Machine -
Live in Deutschland 2002 & Live in Deutchland - 2003

This is the third time I try to write a simple introduction in order to properly introduce the reader to the hypnotic and fanatic world of Saviour Machine giving this DVD the relevance it deserves. But I´ll face it with the wonderful bio written by Alfonso Algora time ago:

“At the beginning of 1990 the Clayton brothers, Jeff (guitars) and Eric (voice and keyboards) founded Saviour Machine along with Dean Forsyth (bass) and Chris Fee (drums). In those times, California was not the best place for a band of strong Christian roots to be known, because the clubs circuit was totally surrounded by bands type L.A. Guns, Faster Pussycat and hundreds of thousands who tried to get the success of Guns´n´Roses or Poison. Saviour Machine were totally aware of the scarce repercussion that their music would have in those channels, for what they decided to focus completely in the Christian musical scene. Maybe this surprises us, Europeans, but in the USA there are hundreds of bands of all music genres (from country to thrash metal) whose music goes directed to a Christian public that only wants to listen to prayers. In fact, bands like Petra or Stryper have reached a worldwide fame. Brief, thanks to being introduced to that small world, the Clayton brothers and the band could manage to get a discreet but nurtured club circuit in the Californian area. The mouth to mouth worked and soon they were called to participate in the Christian Rock Festival of Irvine, in which they achieved a spectacular success, and an agent from Frontline Records got interested in them. After listening to their demo, he offered the band to sign their first contract. In those moments -see the picture and compare it with the rest - the band had not still got the mysterious image that they have at the present time, lacking its shows of the paraphernalia and theatrical side that now they have”.

If you´re interested in the band´s evolution please visit the aforementioned biography because I think it´s the most complete ever published (in spanish language at least).

Let´s talk about the material: a double DVD containing two shows of the band in the german city of Owen in 1995 and 2002 as well as diverse extra material. The first DVD, more than two hours, is from "Legend" tour. The second DVD contains another great show of 1995 (already released in VHS) and a 55 minutes long documental titled “Behind the mask”, a unreleased video-clip of the song “Love Never Dies” and lots of photos and bios. I´ll focus on the review of the first disc, and again.. I don´t know… how could I define the macabre rehearsal of the most ambitious musical project about the end of the world?. Again, I need to use Alfonso Algora´s words when he wrote about Saviour Machine on stage:

Saviour Machine is not a usual band. Despite the fact that their name can look completely unknown to us, Clayton and his boys have a great success in Germany and Holland, filling pavilions, and they are appreciated in various musical sectors: by fans of Gothic music, of progressive rock, of the heavy metal, by Christian and even by those who accept any kind of music dedicated to God, etc. They all gather in the Saviour’s crowded performances. In them, Eric Clayton is presented like a kind of "priest-master of ceremonies", wrapped in his white or black tunics, and with a particular gem that he wears on his bald head that he colors completely in white, whereas the rest of the band, are all dressed in black, creating their with no other desire than to bring Eric a solid support. The band is presented on a stage full of chains, with stucco figures with which Eric plays, talks, etc., and with the presence of a great mask that presides over the stage. Eric moves, twists, speaks to masks, whispers, screams, wraps himself in American flags while accusing the United States of being Satan (and they are Americans, it doesn’t surprise me that they were not successful in their own country), and they enjoy an exquisite education with the public, always sending kisses, thanking and to blessing the audience”.

Well, that´s what you´ll watch in this show too. But with a ritual overdose: Palestinian, Israelian, US and UN´s flags bathed in blood. The UN flag is also burned in an atmosphere that the watcher could considerate impressive. The band´s line-up is: Nathan Van Hala (keyboards), Carl Johan Grimmark (guitars), Charles Cooper (bass), Thomas Weinsejö (drums), and of course, Eric Clayton soul and vocals. The band is accompanied by a string quartet (Suzane Röckl, Martina Koch, Sebastian Clobes y Sara Buschkün), and the choir Emsemble Cantabile (Henriette Gutmeyer, Marion Brückmann,Uschi Michefeit, Andrea Braun, German Fischer, Markus Michelfeit, Christopher Benkert) that give the songs a special energy.

The setlist is as follows:

Tracks taken from "Legend Part I":

“A prophecy”, “The eyes of the storm”, “The birth pangs”, “The Night”, “Gog (Deathmarch)”, “The invasion of Israel”, “World War III”, “The Beast”, “Ten – The Empire”, “Legend I:I”, “The Lamb”

Tracks taken from "Legend Part II":

“The whore of Babylon”, “Behold a pale horse”, “War in heaven”, “The promise”

Tracks taken from "Legend Part III:I":

“The dead sea”, “Revelation 13”, “Legend III:I”, “The ancient serpent”, “Four trumpets”, “The locusts”, “The plague and the darkness”, “The end of the age”, “The final holocaust”

At the end of the show “American Babylon” from "Saviour Machine II" is played. This is not only the best song of the band but also one of the best songs I´ve ever listened to.

I´ll remark the new arrangements of songs such as “The birth pangs” or “The promise”, but the best one is “The night” when the keyboards give the song an impressive romanticism. In the same way “Behold a pale horse” sound less commercial than the original version.

It´s also great the almost ritual ambient of the linked tracks “Gog (Deathmarch) – The invasion of Israel – World War III – The Beast – Ten – The Empire”, with an amazing rhythm section. When the band performs these tracks, Eric baths with “blood” the flags of Palestina and Israel and he writes with “blood” the words: “New Order” over UN´s flag.

Perhaps the most disappointing moment of the show is “American Babylon” worse than the studio version. I think that Eric Clayton pays all the energy lost along the show (the show was longer than all the recorded material included in the DVD). On the other hand, the studio version had some vocal tricks (Eric sang a verse and then he “answered” the verse with another) impossible to recreate on stage.

Undoubtedly this is a very interesting DVD for people interested in the end of the world and, of course, it´s a good first step if you´re interested in Saviour Machine. Personally I think that every prog fan should have the wonderful "Saviour Machine II" and "Legend Part I" at home.

And please, labels, include subtitles. I got very angry when I listened to “Behind the Mask” documentary and I couldn´t understand a word.

Eduardo Aragón - January 2003
rating - MCM / Massacre Records


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