Released: 2008, Waken Records/SPV
Reviewer: The Crimson King
After 13 years and eight full length releases (and one self produced demo EP) the Celtic metal act Suidakra finally see the release of their first DVD package, aptly entitled 13 YEARS OF CELTIC WARTUNES. Released on the newly formed Wacken Records, the package consists of a full length DVD containing 2 live shows along with additional bonus materials, and a greatest hits compilation CD spanning the band’s entire career. The release does a great job of showcasing the band’s trademark mix of blackened-death-folk metal and proves to be a wise investment for established fans and newcomers alike.
The obvious focus of the package is the DVD. As previously mentioned the DVD contains two live shows that showcase two very different sides of the band. The first performance comes from the band’s 2007 “Black Stage” performance at Wacken. The band is in top form, as they tear through an eight song, 45+ minute set. Being that the show took place during the day, there is little in the way of any light show or stage theatrics present, but then again that is not really what the band is about. The show is professionally filmed with at least five or six different cameras, and the audio quality is pristine. As for the band themselves, they mange to lay down an energetic, and skull crushing performance. They rip through the opener “Darkane Times,” moving swiftly into “Gates of Nevermore” in which we get our first on stage accompanying appearance of the highland bagpipes, performed by a piper decked out in full Scottish regale. This meld of styles comes off best in the instrumental “Dead Man’s Reel,” and yields the most vocal crowd reaction, and highlights the entire set. The band wraps the set up with an on-point rendition of “Wartunes,” providing an exclamation point to a performance that was sure to earn them a few new fans amongst the Waken masses.
In the second performance we are provided with a completely different glimpse of the band as they work through an 11 song acoustic set. As far as venues go, the locale at which this show takes placed could not be any farther in size and scope from what was seen on the Wacken performance. The club looks to be about the size of someone’s living room, and the band sits atop a tiny stage on 3 simple barstools within an elbows reach from each other, with the drums looming closely behind. What is surprising is that, somehow, the crew manages the tight quarters, positioning about five cameras to document the performance. Again the video quality is strong and the audio capture of the performance is top notch. Here we get to see Marcel (who does all of the band’s clean vocals) take center stage, and again the band puts on a memorable performance. The band does a fantastic job “acoustasizing” the opener “The One Piece Puzzle,” and it is clear that this intimate setting is the perfect setting for Marcel’ s vocals to really shine. The band works through a set of some of their more folk based material, mixing in a few covers such as Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” and a set stealing, traditionally arranged performance of “Whisky in the Jar”. The only problem that the band encounters is that some of their choices are relatively short in length, and by the time you start to really get into the groove of the song it is over. They do combat this by pulling off a flawless medley in the middle of the set, but overall some tracks could have definitely used a bit more expansion when translating them to this medium. The DVD also includes some crowd interviews from the Wacken show, and two promotions videos.
As for the CD, it is your standard greatest hits fair that works best for people unfamiliar with the band. It does provide some value added benefit to fans who already own the material, as the first four tracks, which cover the band’s first two releases, have been completely re-recorded, and the rest are re-mastered. The band’s entire catalogue is covered with at least two tracks from each release present. I will leave the debate open as to whether or not the choices made are the best from the respective albums.
13 YEARS OF CELTIC WARFARE is another quality release from what seems to be shaping up as a real nice label in Wacken Records. Fans of the band will find plenty to enjoy with the release, although some may be left wishing for a show with a longer set list to be chronicled. The release works real well as initiation piece for newcomers to the band. The CD provides a good snapshot at the many different sounds explored by the band over their career, and the DVD is a nice companion piece for these individuals, to see what the band brings to a live performance. And when you look at the price at which this set is being offered, there is an apparent value that cannot be denied.