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Tension - 25 Years Underground: A Documentary by Rudy Childs

Label: self released
Format: DVD
Released: 2012
Reviewed By: Mark Gromen
Rating: 8/ 10

Metal documentaries are hot now and there are many regional 80s metal acts still engrained on the minds of fans, all these years later, even though they never matured beyond local stages. The story of Laurel, MD (near DC and Baltimore) based Deuce (later changing their name to Tension, when signed to Torrid for their one and only, ’86 released Breaking Point) has more juice than most, since its formative years included a guitarist named Marty Friedman (later of Cacophony/Hawaii/Megadeth fame). The noted stringbender is interviewed from his home in Japan, as well as various members throughout the years, especially mainstay/guitarist/singer Tom Gattis (Wardog/Ballistic).


The formative years are afforded some time, but there’s an untold tale therein: Gattis’ mother moving her 14 year old son 2000+ miles (from Wyoming to Maryland) because he couldn’t find a drummer for his band. Then she invested ten grand to build him a backyard shed/rehearsal space. She is interviewed from Botswana, Africa! Would love to hear more about her beliefs/motives. Years later, after the demise of Tension, Gattis moved to New Mexico, got an engineering degree and now works for Los Alamos military facility, working on nuclear weaponry. When Friedman’s family left for Hawaii (his dad worked for the secretive government National Security Agency, NSA), the filmmaker neglects to focus on the guitarist’s solo career (Dragon’s Kiss on Shrapnel and CACOPHONY collaboration with Jason Becker) nor the brief band named for his adopted state, giving viewers the impression he virtually went from Deuce to Megadeth, although there was more than a decade (and five studio albums) in between. Lots of colorful photographs, but there’s no vintage footage w/ Friedman, just some video from a live reunion in the Nineties. There is some footage of other line-ups, rare, given the lack of decent camcorders back-in-the-day, although much of it re-used from the pair of promotional videos they did for Torrid (which are included at the end of the DVD).

I could see someone doing a similar project for Deadly Blessing (from my southern NJ/Philly area), since like Deuce/Tension they issued only one 80s platter before disbanding, regrouped a couple of times to play overseas (as well as one of the BW&BK 6-Packs) and “donated” bassist Nick Douglas to Doro, where he’s remained a fixture since 1990. There are undoubtedly similar stories elsewhere. Rudy Childs had the good sense to film this one first.

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