|Denali – Pinnacle - DVD|
I was as sad as anyone when I heard that Denali was calling it quits. For starters, I never did get to see them play live. I would have loved to see if they could pull off the feel and weight of the albums in a live setting. I guess this DVD helps clear up that question for me… but at the same time, it raises some others.
The dark, brooding ballads of Maura Davis crushed me the first time I heard them. I was amazed that a pop song could come off as menacing as Denali's did. And what clinched my fascination with the band was Davis' unique voice. It has a haunting quality that adds a tremendous amount of feeling and darkness to her songs. Both albums would become fixtures of my CD rotation for a good chunk of time. But of course they did, there was nothing out there quite like them.
With members from another Richmond mainstay Engine Down (who… also broke up), it just seemed like a matter of time before the band would come to a halt. After huge tours and praise from a number of outlets, the band decided to stop. It wasn't a fight, it wasn't even for other projects. The band just wanted to stop instead of fade out. Commendable, sure. But it was also pretty sad.
So now we have Pinnacle to cap off the band's career. While it's not the most glorious or amazing DVD I've seen, it does do a good job at getting an idea of their live show and a glimpse into the behind-the-scene's aspect of the band. I say, "an idea" of their live show, because the 44-minute set is actually five different shows clipped together. While the editing between songs (and the one song with a split screen of two different shows) is really good and feels like a natural flow, it still comes off as though the band can't pull it together for a whole show. While I've always heard nothing but praise about the Denali live show, it still leaves me feeling like I'm getting cheated out of the true experience. It's like a best of, but on DVD.
There are a handful of extras on the DVD if you are into that sort of thing. Some 150 photos of the band is really only interesting for the first 20 or so… then… its just pictures. But the real winner here is the home movies provided by guitarist Cam DiNunzio. That's what I usually love about DVD's these days. Give me behind the scenes stuff, give me the band acting like the people they are instead of the people they are on stage. Give me video on the road, give me video of people being grumpy and playing shitty shows. THAT'S what I want from band DVD's. I just find that stuff way more interesting, seeing as I already own the music and know what to expect in that department.
So maybe I was a tad let down by the live footage, but that in no way discredits this final document of such a good band. You'll get a little sad, you'll have a laugh, you'll end up pulling out your Denali CD's and giving them another spin. What else can you ask for?
- Jake Haselman | 2006-04-11