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An expertly done overdose of sweets - 84%

Dunkeltroll, August 4th, 2009

First of all: Schandmaul is NOT a metal band - they never were, never will be, and never PRETENDED to be one. The only thing metal about this band is part of their fanbase, which also contains gothic, folk, general rock and medieval-music fans. So why this band (unlike, say, AC/DC) is included in the metal archives is a complete mystery to me. But since they are and I happen to have watched their latest offering, I might as well write a review for it.

This DVD contains the bands 10th anniversary concert, recorded with a dozen or so HD-cameras in their hometown (Munich, Germany), in front of a crowd of 7000 rabid fans. Not only did Schandmaul organize the event itself, but also bus-travel and overnight stays for fans from all over the country, as well as a birthday party the day after the concert. As you might guess, the show was sold out, and the atmosphere among those lucky enough to get tickets couldn't have been any better. And Schandmaul delivered just what the audience was hoping for: far more than 3 hours of friendly, happy entertainment, including all the highlights of their career, at times accompanied by some guest musicians / background singers.

As I said before: there is no metal to be found here. Schandmaul play a kind of medieval-inspired rock music with modern german lyrics. There's no traditional melodies, no ancient texts, no primeval topics in their songs - no gods of thunder, no historical context, no nothing. Instead you get lots of fairy tales, a few love songs and a drinking song or two. There is a competend rock rhythm-section (guitar, bass and drums) to accompany a shifting assortment of bagpipes, violin, flute, acoustic guitar, accordion and some other instruments, all very skillfully handled by the front trio of lead singer Thomas and the two female members of the band, Birgit and Anna. The guys in the back add some cool licks and fills to the mix, thus further enriching the songs.

Thomas' vocals are very clear and flattering, but never leave a certain range. As good as the lyrics are (if you are in for that sort of stuff), they are one of the main reasons a lot of the songs sound quite similar to each other. If you don't happen to understand German, this problem will surely become even bigger. Other than that, a few of the melodies (most of them carried by the acoustic instruments) resemble each other as well. So while there is no outright bad or even weak song to be found here, some passages of the concert get a bit boring.

The sound of this release is perfect, giving the crowd and all of the instruments their room. The visuals could at times be better (some artifacts, useless colour-draining during some songs), but are overall also very good.

My verdict: this release indeed offers value for money, if you happen to like this kind of music. For me, half of it would have been enough, so I will split the next viewing into two sessions, I guess. A must-have for fans, and an excellent starting-point for anyone interested in the light, highly melodic medieval rock Schandmaul has to offer - you will be hard pressed to find anyone who plays this style as well as they do, and the live performance is even better than their studio recordings.