Released: 2009, Wacken Records
In case you're not familiar with this German metal band, Suidakra play a blend of melodic black metal similar to Children of Bodom and Kalmah, though it would be doing them an injustice to stop there. By no means one of the dozens of Bodom clones that exist, Suidakra mix in some folk music elements, primarily in the form of bagpipes and lyrical content, to add a twist to the familiar formula.
The 13 YEARS OF CELTIC WAR TUNES DVD showcases a live performance at Wacken Open Air 2007, in which Suidakra showcase their talents to one of the largest gathering of metalheads in the world. It is clear when watching the video how these guys manage to whip the crowd in to a bunch of headbanging, crowd-surfing maniacs with their fast-paced, crunchy riffing and rampaging drumming. Even when watching from the comfort of your couch it's hard not to want to get up and join the fun in a "wish I was there" sort of moment.
The audio is brought to you in pristine quality, making the experience all the more enjoyable. Every guitar, bass, and drum line is mixed perfectly so as not to drown out the growls or the clean vocals, and even the bagpipe fits soundly in to the picture. As an added plus, the noise of the crowd is never overpowering in the mix, a pet peeve that plagues many live recordings, making the whole performance that much more enjoyable.
Visually, 13 YEARS OF CELTIC WAR TUNES looks fairly sharp, although it isn't of the high studio quality that some live DVDs – such as Blind Guardian's IMAGINATIONS THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS – possess. At times the camera pans around erratically, and the view from behind the drum kit looks like an amateur YouTube video. The resolution for the video is also not very high, but if you upscale it to fit your TV or monitor it still looks nice. These issues aside, the quality is decent and never really gets in the way of the overall experience.
In addition to the live show at Wacken, there is another full-length acoustic set that the band performed in Germany in 2006. These acoustic songs are well-performed and the clean vocalist gets a chance to shine; his voice is reminiscent of Hansi Kursch, gruff but melodic, albeit without quite the range or power. The sound quality here is on par with the initial Wacken performance, but the video quality is once again lackluster.
There are a bonus interview and two video clips to round out the DVD. The interview is in German but has the option of being viewed with English subtitles, and the music videos are of similar quality to the rest of the DVD.
As if the DVD alone weren't enough to offer, 13 YEARS OF CELTIC WAR TUNES comes with a full-length CD filled with tracks from the band's career. There is a lot more variety in the music here than is found in the concert video, and the band really gets a chance to prove their mettle by adding additional instruments and even the occasional female guest vocalist. The music on the CD sounds more like a combination of Wuthering Heights and Finntroll than Children of Bodom, which adds some welcome diversity to the package.
Whether you've been following Suidakra throughout their career or are a newcomer to their music, 13 YEARS OF CELTIC WAR TUNES is a highly recommended release. Other than a few forgivable issues with the video quality, there is nothing to complain about here. The sound quality is great and the music is fantastic, as brought to you by perhaps one of the strongest and most talented groups to attempt this style of folky melodic black metal. It may not be a front row spot at Wacken, but it's the next best thing.