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For those of you out there whom love the Speed/Power/Progressive Metal outift of Blind Guardian and have not had the opportunity to see them live, this is a fine alternative to actually catching them on tour (though I recommend the latter highly). This is one of the greatest live concerts I've seen on DVD, and by virtue of my less than active social life, I've seen many.
The setlist is a good representation of the entire scope of Blind Guardian's extensive career, drawing such classic speed metal tracks as "Valhalla" and "Banished from Sanctuary". The Speed/Power Metal music of the middle era is also well represented with the likes of "The Last Candle", "Somewhere Far Beyond" and the memorable ballad "Lord of the Rings". In addition, we have some rather important progressive tracks from the later years, such as the war hymn "Time Stands Still", the triumphant "Mirror Mirror" and the self contained opera "And then there was Silence". The only album that isn't represented is "Battalions of Fear", although Majesty is on the bonus DVD.
The performance of these songs are excellent, particularly the ballads. Hansi Kursch gets the job done live with the best of them, although Blind Guardian's recent love affair with multiple vocal overdubs make the live renditions sound a bit empty at times. Indeed, the only real flaw in the performance is that the "Nightfall on Middle Earth" songs are missing some essential orchestration parts, and for those of you whom like that album the most and have not heard these songs live, they are done as well as they can with 6 people on stage, but it's obviously not as powerful as what came out of the studio.
The guitar work here is flawless, both Andre and Marcus really deliver the goods here. Andre's hyper melodic leads phase in and out of every song with perfect clarity, while Marcus' supporting riffs never waiver. It seems that Marcus usually does lead duty on the ballads, and although this seems a rather uneven sharing of the solos, it is a bit interesting. Thomen's drum performance is also exceptional, especially during the newer material, which is ironic when you consider that those songs were the ones that caused him to quit the band.
The visuals of the performance are spellbinding, especially the burning torches during "A past and future secret". Hansi does an excellent job of keeping the audience jazzed up, and the stage is large enough to accomadate all of the various movements of the musicians and still contain an extravaganza of pyrotechnics.
The bonus DVD contains 4 extra live performances of various songs from the 3 eras of Blind Guardian, in addition to some interesting behind the scenes footage and an interview with the band. All merely icing on the cake, as the true treats are found on the first DVD.
In conclusion, this is an excellent live concert, and I regret only that I didn't catch this tour when it came through the east coast of the United States. A must have for the power metal fan, and a good varied collection of songs for the Blind Guardian faithful.
Let me make one thing clear: the Krefeld four could have simply released this DVD with one song: And Then There Was Silence- and it still would have been worth it.
Since everyone else has raved about this DVD enough, I don't think I need to say more in that direction than that I absolutely agree, Therefore, I'm going to criticize the very few problems.
The number one problem is that the bonus songs (which were recorded at a different show) have far inferior sound quality to the songs on the first disc. This is understandable however, as BG didn't get to have everything set up the way they wanted, they had no control over the sound crew, etc. The audio on the first DVD however is pretty much the best I've ever heard on a live album.
The number two problem is that Hansi only hits about half of his high notes, but this is something he consistently has to do live. It's one thing to sing high; it's one thing to growl. But Hansi, with his qonderfully unique voice, somehow manages to have very high-pitched growls, that are aggressive and beautiful at once. Unfortunately, if he hit every single one, he would no longer be able to sing. When you consider the immense difficulty of his part, his performance is absolutely stunning. And rest assured, the rest of the guys are perfect.
The last major problem is Hansi's lack of activity onstage. I guess he just never learned how to be active as a stage singer, after quitting bass. However, Marcus and Oliver especially are extremely dynamic onstage, which more than makes up for it. I only wish the camera would show Oliver once in a while, rather than focusing on Hansi's newly gained pudginess all the time.
Anyways, these are all pretty minor. As a whole, the DVD is absolutely marvelous. It's wonderful to hear And Then There Was Silence stripped down, without all the overbearing production; a rawer, leaner version of the greatest metal song of all time. A BG concert is a very special thing, with the entire crowd singing the choruses, and such magcal songs. This DVD reproduces that effect very well for those not yet fortunate enough to see the band live.
As you can see this is the first low score this DVD is getting, you may think that it's because I don't like the band or the latest releases very much, but that's not the case. Actually, I've been a big fan of this band for many years, I own all of their albums and like each one in their own way (except Live). Also I must say the set list is great, filled with long time classics as well as the newer ones, the production is quite well done and the gig was crowded.
So you're probably wondering why I gave only 60% for this DVD. Well, there are two main reasons: the set list and Hansi's performance.
I know I said the set list was great, and now I'm saying this is one of the reasons this DVD isn't so good. Well, surely there are a lot of classics, really great songs in this release, but there's one big problem: the songs from the albums after Imaginations From The Other Side (which's my favourite album of the Blind Guardian discography) doesn't sound so good live. They are indeed very good in the studio version, but when it comes to playing them live they just lose much of the atmosphere they have (I was especially disapointed with the songs from Nightfall in Middle Earth, they were not nearly as good live as they were in the album). The older songs though still work great, but there's just a few of them.
About Hansi's performance, it's just plain pittyful. He's a very talented singer, I must admit, but it seems he's getting old. He almost doesn't interact with his audience, just stays calm and sing. Hansi doesn't even bang his head (well, he shakes his hair, but even my grandma does that). Aside his poor skills as a frontman, he lacks a good singing performance too. Yeah, the great vocals we all hear on the studio songs won't be found here, it seems he's sparing his voice all the time, and this includes some of the songs greatest moments (see Time Stands Still At The Iron Hill and you understand what I mean), he sings just about all the vocal lines in clean vocals, what gets kinda frustrating sometimes.
So that's it, this dvd features some of Blind Guardian's best songs (mostly from the latest albums), but many of them doesn't sound nearly as good live as they do in studio. Also, Hansi's performance is really weak. In the end, if you want to hear the band live, stick with the good old Tokyo Tales (filled with songs that are great alive, and featuring a much more motivated Hansi Kursch), but if you want to see them live... I'm sorry, you'll have to satisfy yourself with this.
Let me start by saying this is the single greatest concert DVD I've ever seen. The only reason it gets a 99 instead of a 100 is because of the lack of subtitles (Hansi speaks German to the crowd. I don't speak German, I can't understand what he's saying.) But that's just a minor detail. The show is amazing, a great setlist, superb performances, the band oozes energy. The setlist isn't perfect, but you never can please everyone. It's nice to see them pull out old goodies like Banish From Sanctuary, the Last Candle, and Somewhere Far Beyond. And Then There Was Silence is absolutley nothing short of incredible here. The crowd is really into the show, chanting the chorus to Valhalla on more than one occasion. And very nice crowd participation in the Bard's Song and Lord of the Rings. Extra features are nice, Including 4 bonus songs (Majesty, Into the Storm, Welcome to Dying, Lost in the Twilight Hall), and a documentary on making the DVD. That has subtitles, but only on the voiceovers. Rounds off with a photo gallery. Amazing DVD, should be the DVD that all metal DVD's are judged by.
This is my first review on a DVD. As an impression, I was really excited to get my hand on this metal gem. Blind Guardian became my favorite band ever since I started listening to them and I've never been disappointed from any album they have released.
Blind Guardian has to be the best power metal band ever and there's no doubt about it that this DVD will be excellent.
The cover looks great and it is appealing to the eyes of the fans of Blind Guardian and the fans of The Lord Of The Ring epic. The back cover shows the characters of the LOTR buying their tickets to one of the greatest show on earth.
About the DVD, the quality is crystal clear and the camera angles are perfectly fit for this gigantic concert.
The choice of the tracks are fantastic that you've got: "Time Stand Still, Banish From Sanctuary, Mordred's Song, and And Then There Was Silence"
I don't need to go all over the tracks since everyone that's into Blind Guardian knows them by now.
The sound quality is fantastic along with the picture. Every instrument is heard perfectly and the best part of how the band was able to perform "And Then There Was Silence" perfectly. Hansi Kursch's voice is so powerful. As usual, the crowd loves to recite the chorus of "Valhala" over and over and over again. "Valhala" has become a signature song for Blind Guardian because they always play this song in every live show. The three main ballads are also been played in the concert that are "A Past And Future Secret", "Lord Of The Rings", and of course "The Bard's Song". (Have you realized that Hansi had trimmed some of his hair and gained a bit of weight?) :)
The stage effects are wonderful and they flow perfectly with the music and the reaction of the band is very classy. This band is their to play the music for the fans, unlike some bands that make the people stomp on one another.
All in all, it's an amazing metal DVD and it is worth getting. It was more than I expected and Blind Guardian proved themselves that they are the kings of power metal. BLIND GUARDIAN IS THE BEST BAND EVER!!!
"Valhalla - Deliverance
Why've you ever forgotten me "
Having just recently provided us with a fantastic double live CD, Blind Guardian release a DVD from their very own Blind Guardian Open-Air festival in Coburg. It was Hansi's idea to hold their own festival so they could record this DVD and he is rightly given credit for it in the interviews and making-of on the bonus disc - the result is that they were able to have full control over all the visual aspects for the festival, and it made quite a difference.
As you know by now, Blind Guardian are all over trying to achieve the best sound and visual quality as possible, and subsequently everything on this DVD is absolutely stunning (even the cover-art owns your soul), with an exceptional quality that only very-well established bands such as Iron Maiden and Judas Priest are able to reproduce. Lighting, pyrotechnics (yes, they have FIRE!), and camera-work are sensational (despite the camera being out-of-focus in a few certain spots). The amount of focus on the crowd and its involvment is just right - featuring many of your favorite singalongs (The Bard's Song, The Lord of the Rings, Mirror Mirror) - the crowd is even difficult to silence at the end of Valhalla and the band had to continue playing again even after they had ended the song, and the crowd sings the chorus again several songs later!
I'd also like to make a note that Hansi got his hair cut down quite a bit and is only shoulder length, but the first thing that came to my mind was that if you strapped a suit of armor on him and gave him a horse he'd look exactly like a medieval German knight! There's even a shot of several fans bowing down in honor of his hair on the bonus disc, it's quite funny!
The sound quality is absolutely outstanding - surpassing even their Live double CD. Despite the fact that they've made a name for themselves as being a symphonic band, they come fully packed with a mean guitar tone. Every member can be heard in perfect unison, with no over-emphasis on any one particular instrument (including the vocals).
Now, on to the song selection. It's not perfect, but it's pretty damn close. Blind Guardian have managed to reach the point in their career where they have so many songs that so many people love that it's impossible to play everyone's favorite song. However, the DVD does include a bonus disc that features Majesty, Into The Storm, Welcome To Dying, and Lost In The Twilight Hall - all from the Wacken 2002 performance, and a damn good list, despite being four songs, so you can throw that on after watching the show as their "encore" if you are not totally satisfied.
However, I cannot at all see anyone, no matter how die-hard they are, being disappointed with this DVD. I've already mentioned at how good the visuals are, but the real test of strength is the band's performance. I can honestly say that this DVD is so well produced and executed by the band that every song is stronger than the studio version. And while certain aforementioned classics appear to be missing, there are some other gems they pull out instead - Banish From Sanctuary, The Last Candle, And The Story Ends (yep - Imaginations... really was almost ten years ago!), and Somewhere Far Beyond... SOMEWHERE FAR BEYOND! Without a doubt that is the best song on here.
The bonus disc features the four songs from the Wacken 2002 performance, with a "Making-Of" feature for the festival itself, an interview with the band, and a little slide-show as well. The only flaw is that I only know a tiny bit of German and some of the small conversations in the "Making-Of" do not have subtitles so I don't know what the hell they are saying, but they comment on all the cool stuff, like the free beer they had to give away because they didn't have any water.
This is the kind of DVD that will obviously be enjoyed by every die-hard fan of Blind Guardian, but it is also the DVD that you can recommend to any fan of metal. Don't think you're getting a little flowery performance, Blind Guardian really did (I don't care how cliche it sounds) put the power in power metal on this release. It's full of energy, speed, fire, and an absolutely brilliant live environment - they managed to capture the feel of their festival and make you feel like you really are in the audience. In time this will be seen as the DVD that all other metal DVDs are judged by.
Ok now, this is my first review of a DVD ... Let's start with my expectations, I didn't quite knew what to think, I saw the Coburg show before and it was good, and the price was of a 1 disc DVD though it is a double feature.
The cover art is typical of a Blind Guardian disc, though the quality is much enhanced. Back art features an orc clearly drawn from the Orc idea of the Lord Of The Rings movie inside a ticket booth and we see a nice picture of Legolas, Gimli, and countless other monsters and elves trying to buy a ticket to Blind Guardian's performance. It is actually a nice idea, so I like the art featured in here.
Inside we have a 2 pages booklet that doesn't say nothing at all, it is not really an adition to the package. It just haves the usual promotion and copyright stuff; it obviously also contain a bit of a description of the features inside the DVDs and where the songs were recorded. I think it was just intended as inside art, which is a nice thing.
The discs are presented nicely in a tidy way, but it is sometimes annoying that you can't extract DVD 2 without getting DVD 1 out of the way; it isn't really much of a problem...
DVD 1 - The Coburg Show
The menu of this DVD is something great, it displays various characters of the Lord Of The Rings, it isn't really a "motion" menu but the quality of the drawings is something spectacular.. high quality drawings that go along and flow nicely with the concert background.
Now to the show. It is remarcable to say that Blind Guardian organized their own "Open Air Festival", obviously featuring themselves as the main act; but giving the oportunity of lots of metal fans to attend to another summer metal fest featuring good bands. This was recorded the second night of the show, which aloud BG to have a previous feel and to give themselves a bit more "rehearsing" to the DVD (the night before).
The show per sé is great too, it features 20 songs, some of them as Imaginations From The Other Side and And Then There Was Silence, which extend the show for aproximately 140 mins... Audio quality is Dolby Digital 5.1 / PCM-Stereo.. The video quality is near perfection, I would say it is really movie like (16:9 NTSC).
The songs sound great live, and the band has a feeling I've never was able to experience before, since I've never attended to a Blind Guardian concert.
The utilization of Pyros and lights was amazing; since it was for BG to handle everything for the Festival, they could do anything they wanted. And actualy they did a marvelous job. They worked with very experienced Pyro technicians and alledgedly, their lights crew stayed up all night to programme a different light set to every song. It actually works and the visuals are just amazing.
The crowd is very good too, considering European and American crows are kind of lame always (just stay there and clap or say two "hey hey") and not loud at all. That is really something coming from me, this audience (considering they are over 40,000 metal maniacs) manages to stay pretty loud, and the sing alongs are so coordinated with the music it's a great experience. Too bad they clapped all day long and singed the chorus for "Valhalla" every fucking song, but considering they were just having fun, it is pretty funny to see that. And the band is on top condition, very good performance from Hansi and the boys.
Drawback: As this show was in Coburg Germany, Hansi didn't have to talk english to them, so you can't understand (unless you live in Germany or know German) anything he says, just the titles to the songs. Though I would normaly let it slip away since the show is so good.
DVD 2 - Bonus Disc
The menu of this disc actually reminds me of a menu from a war game, actually it is very similar to an Age Of Empires game menu, but that's not necesarily a bad thing, and definetely not a bad thing for a band that features this kind of fantasy themes.
The interview is in German, but subtitles in English included, it is actually a good interview with the whole band. We have almost all of them talking here about how it was, and why, to get the whole project going. And diferent interesting questions.
Then the Making of BG Festival Coburg 2003 is very interesting, we are shown different videos of the festival, during before and after the show, and we have Hansi and André talking in the back, like seeing the video with us and telling us what is going on. That is actually pretty funny and very nice to see.
Luckily they've added a bit of bonus songs, it's a shame they didn't played them in the Coburg show since it would have been nice to have the whole set played for us instead of echanging cds and festivals to see them. But they are well worthed, though the sound is not as it was in the first CD (Dolby Digital Stereo DD 2.0), this bonus disc just pays off with these features, which include Majesty, Into The Storm, Welcome To Dying and Lost In The Twilight Hall.
Last is the Slideshow, we can all go without a slideshow of the festival we just saw, and this would have been a nice space to maybe an extra bonus song. But what is nice to see is that you are shown pictures of superb high quality.
And that is all about it, I don't know about you but I was expecting a Blind Guardian DVD from long ago, and always wondered how it would be.
Well it is just fantastic, the little flaws prevent this to get a 100 % score, but eitherway they are just minor setbacks that won't worry you a bit while watching the whole see.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!