on September 3, 2008
WOW! Two female lead vocalists. Two male lead vocalists. Each with a great voice, unique personality and strong stage presence. Creative stage design with effective gothic lighting and props (candelabras, wrought iron fence, dark atmosphere.) Belly Dancing. And mind-numbingly creative and powerful gothic, symphonic, metallic music!!
This DVD has got to be one of the top concert videos of 2008, and of all time. The sonic quality of the music recording is astounding: you can clearly hear each instrument and each vocalist, with lucidity and precision. The energy the band exudes is infectious. The clarity of the video itself is amazing: I see no pixelation, noise or artifacts. And even in the low light environment, you can still see the details of the musicians and the stage. And of course, the music is spectacular: Christofer Johnsson's compositions never cease to thrill with mystery, imagination, and bombast; and the musicians bring it all about with exuberant passion, technical precision, and pure metal abandon!
What's really interesting to me is to see how Therion's stage show has evolved over the years. After Therion first went symphonic, they used a (formal, classical) choir for the vocal parts. You can see this in the Live at Wacken 2001 videos. The music is powerful then, but slightly impersonal. Then, in the live at Mexico City 2004 videos, Therion retains the choir plus adds a male metal vocalist, Mats Leven, who helps give a strong sense of personality and focal point to the Therion stage show. Finally, on this live DVD, for the 2007 tour, Therion dispensed with the formal choir altogether and instead utilizes four strong rock front people, the guys Mats Leven and Snowy Shaw, and the gals Lori Lewis (from the U.S.!) and Katarina Lilja. I personally like this incarnation of Therion best, as the music is infused with scads of warmth, personality, and focussed energy! It's especially awesome when the four of them stand together in the center of the stage for very strong ensemble singing, such as on Ginnungagap. In the past, the choir was always sort of lurking in the background. To me, it's much better to have these four passionate, energetic and attractive (OK Snowy, 'til the end of the concert when you don a mostly shirtless costume - NOT a good choice) individuals as a centerpiece for the band in concert.
If there were a criticism, it's probably that the vocalist Snowy Shaw (who looks like a blond Alice Cooper) is so over-the-top in his metal performance (and garb, see previous comment), that some viewers could, umm, snicker a bit and say something about Spinal Tap. I really don't want to be saying this, as I like Therion and this DVD very much, but I have to be honest here... However, the lovely and classy lady singers, easily make up for this small infraction. By the way, I have no qualms with Snowy's vocal performance: he really adds a lot here.
As a bonus, this DVD includes two CD's holding the entire concert's music, for playing in your car or your stereo (or for converting to MP3's for your iPod etc.) At the price this all is offered for, you can't go wrong! This is a package definitely worth buying. Cheers!
P.S. As a side note, I can kind of understand that some problems may have occurred with the band. (Christofer Johnsson brought out pretty much an entirely new lineup of Therion after the tour documented here.) Four strong vocalists could lead to some issues. I mean, Mats was the star of the show on the Mexico City part of the Celebrators of Becoming DVD, but now, Snowy kind of steals the show, even though Mats is still in it. Potential problems could ensue. Well, it was a great lineup while it lasted, and I'm glad they preserved this Therion lineup by making this terrific concert DVD. Don't even hesitate to fork over the bucks for this one. (Unless you're really poor. I don't want to encourage fiscal irresponsibility!)