without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
This release is a good deal right from the start: the CD and DVD of the band's Summerbreeze performance are packaged together in what I'm told is all editions, whereas I know of many (also good) bands who would drag a little extra out of you by releasing both formats separately, or just releasing one and not the other. On a second pleasing but entirely non-musical note, that's some beautiful cover art. It matches The Great Cold Distance in tone, shade and style, yet it stands wonderfully on its own as an expression of the band's bleak, melacholy style.
The band themselves are in top form. Blakkheim's various screams and backing vocals seem to rip or soothe the very air around him - much stronger than on the studio releases. The production pays heed to the band much moreso than a fan-oriented atmosphere, which does take away -some- of the raw live feel, but it actually makes the instrumentation seem a lot more powerful than in the studio - just listen to that opening riff of Right Into The Bliss. Wonderful.
I can see where the qualms about the setlist come from: no material from no less than four records, but by this point I'm pretty sure the band was completely done playing their doom metal material - a shame for sure, but having all songs here being from their rock era helps the setlist to mesh and flow much more in the woefully short running time. Speaking of which, this show only runs under an hour - but I'm to understand this was an open-air festival, though it brings to mind why the band didn't just record a one-off date or something.
The visual quality on the DVD is crisp and clear - maybe not Rock In Rio quality, but very close, and the tasteful, appropriate cutting gives equal screen time to all band members. Some fun visual tricks are used, like superimposition of images of two band members - but they never go overboard with it, so this spices up the show and doesn't really detract anything.
I've started to become of the mindset that Katatonia has become, with their rock records, a darker, heavier and more modern equivalent of Pink Floyd in some regards, especially Jonas's subdued but emotive vocal performance which seems to channel David Gilmour through its tones. Well, this two-disc set is no Pulse, but my recommendation for all Katatonia fans is to 'meddle' on down to your local store and plunk down for this live album. It's worth the buy.
This record gave me the first shock when I turned it around and looked at the track list. There was not a single track from Last Fair Deal Gone Down, Brave Murder Day or Dance Of December Souls. Without an extra vocalist performing a song from one of their first two albums would be impossible of course but not a single track from LFDGD - that was just too much.
I was appeased by the artwork however which was very beautifully done by Travis Smith and matches the one for The Great Cold Distance.
The jewelcase contains a CD and a DVD and naturally I watched the DVD first thing I came home. After the first Song I was already frustrated - the guitars are way to quiet, in fact the whole music sounds a bit watered down but once you turn up volume and bass so high that it scares off the sleeping cat it is ok.
The music itself is very well done which was to be expected. I was happy to find that Katatonia sounds well without the programming tricks or the somewhat hidden keyboards which of course are missing at a live performance. What intrigued me most however were the backing vocals by guitarist Blakkheim. I was aware that he was a good screamer, owning Death’s Design from his solo project Diabolical Masquerade, but this really surprised me. The screams and even his clean vocals really fitted in and once he even sounded better than his mate Renske, who has become one fat singer indeed. Speaking of Renske, he is (in this performance) the weakest part of the band. His vocals do not sound as good as they do on the studio records but then again he does not have plenty of FX available to supply himself here. The vocals sound weak, as if his voice was not meant to go that high or if he's somewhat ill. When he announces the next song however you see that his voice has indeed power so... why doesn't he use it on stage? We may never know.
The CD is just the DVD without the images that means you can’t see the skill the musicians have but at the same time you don’t need to see the unpleasant bulk of Jonas Renske. It’s for you to decide if that’s good or bad.
In short - this is a good live album but it suffers from some messed up editing/recording and a very unsatisfying track list. I recommend it for fans, although they'll buy it anyway just like I did.