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Yeah . . . I'm not really that impressed - 80%

OSheaman, July 21st, 2003

Live albums are hard to do. A lot of the great bands, including Iron Maiden have fucked up a live album before (Maiden's 11th Hour fucker was Rock in Rio), because on a live album there are no retakes, and even after it's all done, you still have to rely heavily on guys who do stuff like mixing and production. Sonata Arctica's performance is decent, but not spectacular, and whoever did the mixing obviously doesn't listen to metal, because he completely emphasized the wrong sounds at the wrong times, leading to a very sub-mediocre album.

Now, if you're a die-hard Sonata Arctica fan, stop reading this and go out and buy the damn thing. It doesn't completely blow monkey balls, and if Sonata Arctica owns your soul then that's all you need to know before you buy it.

The rest of you might want to wait for round two. This is not Sonata Arctica at their best. The audience is completely enthusiastic and is constantly chanting and cherring; in essence, it's every band's dream audience. Unfortunately, the band does not perform at the level of the studio albums. Ton'y vocals are choppy, and the high notes he hits without a hitch in the studio albums are barely squeaked out in the live verision. The guitar is almost completely inaudible, as the keyboards are at a very high volume, even when they're doing something that is obviously NOT THE MELODY, like playing whole notes or something.

As I said, it's not a total train wreck. The instruments are played well, and the setlist is great, playing out like a Best Of Sonata Arctica album, although there is a noticeable omission of the completely essential San Sebastian. There are also a few very cool parts in the album, including the performance of False News Travels Fast, the weird little piano ditty that leads into the opening of Full Moon (which is then played very well), Black Sheep, which sounds just like the studio version, and the very enthusiastic audience chanting during Wolf & Raven.

Buy it if you're a fan. You'll love it. If you're not that hot about Sonata Arctica, you will definitely not be falling in love with this flawed creation.