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I'm not the one for sucking up but this album deserves it. Even Katatonia, for whom I've been called a fanboy a lot, get less praise than this album. Virtually every review stated how great it is and I really just want to cement this. It is awesome.
Power metal is about feeling good, feeling strong, connected and whatever else you like, its the epitome of the positive feelings metal gives. Not so much about fury, anger or hate, although thats of course possible as well. Anyway. The point of power metal for me is to make you feel wonderful and this album does it. But how?
First there's the musicianship. Now, live albums are often overdubbed and I've no idea how much the lads tweaked later but from all the bootlegs I've seen I'd say these guys are really this good. There are no fuck-ups, not one missed beat or bad strum. Andre plays his leads and solos like the master he is and Markus remains a rapidly moving rhythm hovertank. Thomas outdrums all those sissy pseudo-technical deathcore drummers out there with a mix of powerful simplicity and sudden technical bursts. And its fast.
Also there are Hansi's vocals which make me want to crawl up and purr like a headbanging kitten on catnip.
There's the song selection. It does not offer that much of the Guardian's back catalogue but we get the classics like Majesty and Valhalla and older songs like Welcome To Dying and Lost in The Twilight Hall, which should keep the older fans happy. Fans of the newer stuff get a treat with Into The Storm, Time Stands Still, Mirror Mirror, Under The Ice and Punishment Divine.
Also there are the obvious ballads, A Past And Future Secret and The Bard's Song, the letter making me feel like a well fed hunting dog in front of a fire - ok I stop the animal similes now.
So in all respects a good song selection. It may omit someone's favorite track but be fair, these guys have a lot of songs and have to compromise.
The production is stellar, the noise of the crowd is well used.. what else can I say about that?
Ah yes.. the whole thing is stitched together from different concerts and based on the banter between songs you know that.. feels a bit odd sometimes when Hansi first greets Milan and then acknowledges Stuttgart's level of noise. The Guardian's should listen to Our Live Album Is Better Than Your Live Album by the skapunk jesters Reel Big Fish the see how to mix different live performances into one huge orgasmic concert experience, although the should disregard the music a bit.
In short: Get this, its awesome. And please help me to find a mop to clean up all this sudden spunk.