Released: 2003, Century Media
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
As far as metal DVDs go, there haven’t been a lot released that have really been anything special. There are a few kicking around that have really embraced the format and given fans a reason to shell out $25, but for the most part, they are slight on material or just expensive compilations of video clips. Melodic death pioneers, Dark Tranquillity, have taken the DVD format to a new level with their first video release, LIVE DAMAGE. Not only is there one concert, but THREE shows (or clips of them anyway), as well as a slew of other features. I have to hand it to the legendary Swedes, they have raised the bar for other metal bands and what fans will come to expect out of a DVD.
The bulk of this DVD sees Dark Tranquillity playing a mammoth 21-track set live in Krakow, Poland’s Krzemionski Television Studio on their DAMAGE DONE tour. The set is (obviously) heavy with eight DAMAGE DONE tracks, but also covers each of their CDs with the exception of 1993’s SKYDANCER and their two E.P.s. The chosen DAMAGE DONE tracks are the best of the bunch from that disc and “The Treason Wall,” “Hours Passed In Exile” and “Final Resistance” are absolutely brilliant. “The Wonders At Your Feet” is the best cut from 2000’s HAVEN and is thankfully included here, too. With Martin Brandstorm on keyboards, he perfectly captures the band’s experimentation with keyboards on that album and adds some fresh touches to the older tracks, as well. Going WAAAAAY back to 1995’s THE GALLERY sees the band unleash “Punish My Heaven” with its killer opening riff and “Lethe” complete with the stunning intro and outro classical guitar. “Therein” from the PROJECTOR CD gets the surprisingly quiet and docile crowd fired up with its meaty rhythms and surprisingly good clean vocal from Mikael Stanne. They sound pretty sweet on record, but he has the goods live, as well. Of course it is Stanne’s growls and menacing death vocals that are the trademark of Dark Tranquillity and he impresses most on “Punish My Heaven.” Niklas Sundin and Martin Henriksson are all that and more live as they move about the stage, all the while capturing the studio magic of the songs we all know. As noted earlier, Brandstorm’s keyboards are a perfect fit to the live setting and Anders Jivarp’s drumming is nothing short of godly, as he pummels through the tracks, yet has a natural flow and presence without dominating the sound.
The strange thing about the Krakow show is how subdued and quiet the audience is. At first I thought the crowd was just low in the mix but after checking more closely, it’s almost like they are catatonic or something! Even as the cameras pan over the half-empty studio, people are just standing there…staring. I have never been fortunate enough to see Dark Tranquillity live, but if this show is any indication of their live experience, they people really missed the boat!
For the audiophiles out there, the Krakow show is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 sound and is breathtaking when played at maximum volume. The deep, rich bass from Mikael Niklasson and Jivarp’s kick drums will thunder through your living room and Stanne’s vocals propel the whole thing from front and center.
There is some “bootleg” video on here, as well, that were shot with single, handheld cameras in Paris, Athens and Essen, Germany. If the “bootleg” title didn’t tip you off, this footage is raw but shows the band on a smaller stage in a smaller venue and in front of a more enthusiastic crowd than Krakow (not that that’s difficult). A lengthy, 28-minute interview with Stanne is included and shows that he is hardly an untouchable rock star. Instead, he seems like a genuine, down-to-earth guy who is very proud of his band and happy to be where he is in his musical career. There are 2 videos included that unless you’re some artsy-fartsy type, they won’t make a hell of a lot of sense. The usual biography, member profiles, discography, photo gallery, etc. is included as well.
If you’re looking at buying only 1 or 2 music DVDs this year, make sure LIVE DAMAGE is one of them. The packaging, content and musicianship should put this near the top of “must have” DVDs. For those people who are new to the majesty of Dark Tranquillity, this is an excellent introduction as songs from all of their CDs are covered with the exception of one and there is more information about the band than you could ever want to know. To long-time followers of Dark Tranquillity, you already know this is a stellar package and the band delivers exactly what we have come to expect of them over their 14-year career.
KILLER KUTS: “The Wonders At Your Feet,” “The Treason Wall,” “Punish My Heaven” “Hours Passed In Exile,” “Final Resistance”