In some of my other music DVD reviews, I take the tact of applying a set of standards to a release and establishing how the DVD in question measures up. Let me say in advance that when I take this tact, it usually means that I was disappointed in the release. Such is the case with Black Label Society: The European Invasion - Doom Troopin' Live.
A memo should go out to all bands and music DVD producers that says at minimum: "1) Music DVD's should be produced to the highest standards. 2) The musical performances within should represent the talent that made the studio recorded CDs sell. 3) Theatrics are very cool too, as long as you can pull them off without deterioration in the quality of the music."
Let's break it down then for Doom Troopin':
1 - "Music DVD's should be produced to the highest standards." - The picture quality in Doom Troopin' is average. Look, I understand that it's more expensive for the band to record in high def, but Doom Troopin' looked like it was recorded in the '80s. The picture just wasn't up to the standards set by some of the better releases of the past few years (click on my name above to see my Listmania List of The Best Rock DVDs With High Quality A/V).
Further contributing to a below average experience, the director has chosen to indulge in what he feels is "cool production" versus giving the viewer a front row seat to the performance. There are a lot split screens and funky video effects (you know, like image stretching and goofy '70s-like animated image overlays). This kind of junk really ruins the illusion of having a front row seat to the show.
The sound is okay. You get your choice between Dolby Stereo, Dolby 5.1 or DTS. But the mix is way below average. Either the producers of Doom Troopin' were novices or their equipment needs a big-time upgrade. I've viewed some recent rock music DVDs (again see the Listmania list that I referred to earlier) that sound as good as being at the show; a good recording shakes the foundations of my house through my 5.1 system but sounds as clear as if the band was playing live. Doom Troopin' sounds almost like it was recorded with the bass levels way down; it almost sounds like an amplified version of the way a live concert would sound from the lobby just outside the performance auditorium.
The one bright side to the video was that the shots actually lasted long enough to take them in before changing angles. Too often you find entire music DVDs where the visual often jumps around similar to the music video format of "4 seconds then cut to another view". Doom Troopin' gives you some good, long lasting looks.
2 - "The musical performances within should represent the talent that made the studio recorded CDs sell." - You say, "Eddie Van Halen," and everyone knows who you're talking about. You say, "Zakk Wylde," and everyone goes, "who?" Zakk Wylde is one of the best...no wait...IS the best hard rock guitarist on the circuit today. His riffs are heavy and melodic and his solos are complex and precise. He definitely brings his guitar playing talent to his live shows. And all of the guys in the band prior to hitting the stage must have huddled and committed to each other to go out and play the music true to the studio versions of the songs. All of the tracks on Doom Troopin' are performed very well (albeit with some jamming that gets a bit long in the tooth after a while).
And Zakk's voice is as good as it is on the CDs. Zakk's singing voice has the same nasally sound familiar with Layne Staley (Alice in Chains), Ryan McCombs (Drowning Pool formerly of SOiL) and...um...Ozzy!. Zakk's not quite as good as the three aforementioned fellows, but he gets the job done.
3 - "Theatrics are very cool too, as long as you can pull them off without deterioration in the quality of the music." - The theatrics were minimal in the show, and that's the way BLS is. They're about the music. Zakk, John DeServio (the bass player that looks just like Zack), Nick Catanese (guitar) and Craig Nunenmacher (drums) just go out and play the music. Pretty much the only attempt at theatrics was Zack stopping into his pub between each song to down a pint of ale. Some dude makes a guest appearance to help pump up the crowd, crowd-surf and sing along with some of the songs, but it's never really clear who the heck it is.
One other note is that a live performance includes getting the audience charged up. Man, was this audience charged up! Gotta hand it to BLS for establishing a loyal, rowdy following.
All in all...it's a decent performance with a very very distracting choice in video production. If you are a dedicated BLS fan that for whatever reason hasn't made it to an actual performance, Doom Troopin' is no substitute. If you don't care about a quality viewing experience then Doom Troopin' should work just fine.