Album Reviews

Issue 2015-048: DVD special

Eyevory - A Symphonic Night of Prog Rock [DVD]

Eyevory - A Symphonic Night of Prog Rock
Country of Origin: Germany
Year of Release: 2014
Time: 99:00
Track List:
Sacrifice, Monster, On My Way To Bliss, Black Bird, Bleeding Heart, Divided, The Tower, Hope, 1001 Nights, I Trust In You, Blind Understanding, Requiem Aeternam, In My Dream, The Perfect Empire, Sorry, Hope
What is music about? What is progressive rock about? This really astonishing DVD provides a lot of answers.

Eyevory was founded in 2012 as a result of a then three year collaboration of young musicians under the lead of Jana Frank (voc-bass) and Kaja Fischer (voc-flute and keyboards). They started with the EP The True Bequest in 2012 and released their first full album in April 2013: Euphobia. At the same time they did something really challenging: a one off show together with an own orchestra. This show took place a few weeks before the official release of Euphobia. They recorded this event professionally. At first there weren't enough financial ressources for the post production and release, but finally a crowdfunding campaign was sucessful so this DVD came to life: A Symphonic Night of Prog Rock. Meanwhile Eyevory are touring europe supporting Saga and Manfred Mann and the demand for headlining shows erases and this actually is no wonder.

Let me tell you first something about the music and then why this DVD is so special. Based on excellent musical skills Eyevory's tracks show a unique combination of classical structures, different musical influences, catchy melodies and uptempo rocking elements. The main band setup is drums, bass and guitar with the flute as a leading instrument together with the charming vocals and keyboards. On this DVD supplemented with a 25 piece orchestra. The overall sound is a compact rock tone, neither dominated by keys or guitars. They bring us fine flute tunes with harmonic duo female vocals as well as longer evolving and rising full orchestra parts. Eyevory have a good hand for melodies and in each track you hear their ability of composing music. Breaks, refrains, bridges, solo parts and the vocal lines show a very high standard. Due to the flute you may find folk influences, because of the cool melodies you may call it pop, based on the rockin' guitar parts and soli you hear rock and the well orchestrated parts let you think about classical music. THAT indeed is progressive rock in it's native sense.

If we look just a decade or two back, a DVD release was a highlight for established bands. Released after sucessful tours in combination with a live-album or featuring the really big events. And what did Eyevory do? A young band, still on the way to their first CD, is dreaming about bringing their music on stage with a full orchestra and record that. Everybody who has anything to deal with music, events, congresses or similar things should be able to imagine, how challenging that idea was. Or maybe crazy. All in all it took about a year from the decision day until the 23rd of march in 2013, when the show took place in the "Schlachthof" in Bremen - Germany. This DVD includes a 17 minute documentary (with english subtitles) which is very worthy, as it captures the mood of the day and the suspence of the actors as well. So A Symphonic Night of Prog Rock is a documentation of the result of that one year long project, and so more than just a very entertaining show.

Beside from the enthusiastic effort and courage of the band and all involved people this DVD shows a lot about music, and how well the addition of an orchestra can be. We had quite a few attempts in the prog cosmos - this is a well-made one. This is not like "LSO plays Genesis" and nor we have rock-adaption of classical music. Here the orchestra is fully integrated into the compositions. These arrangements are done by David Merz (the guitar player of the band) - respect, as well as to the conductor Nicolai Spieß The tracks are gaining volume and sound as well as suspense. At no point you have the idea of a "synthetic" combination. The sound of the flute in Eyevory's music is probably the perfect bridge to the further orchestral instruments and leads to this really outstanding harmony between the band and the Euphobia Orchestra.

On their website there is a DVD-Trailer available and the track Monster. Both give you a good impression of the DVD. Highlights are difficult to point out, but the intro including Sacrifice and On My Way To Bliss" and 1001 Nights can be named. The maybe most impressive track is the Requiem Aeternam_, a 9 minute track with lots of changes, a "dramatical" songstructure and good outworking of the main theme. But we have a lot of possible favorites here.

The production of this DVD is despite all necassary financial efforts on a high standard. You get a lovely made DVD-Cover with a 12-page booklet containing additional information and all credits. The main show lasts 88 minutes.

All in all I highly recommend this DVD to anybody, who has a predelection for rockmusic with a classical touch and who likes to take a little look behind the scene. What is music about? Music deals with emotions and dreams. Here we finally have a dream came to life and an emotional performance with lots of good music. A performance which shows high musical skills and which was made by hand and not by computer. And by the way this production should encourage all "young" bands to stick to their dreams :-)
Peter Funke: 8 out of 10

Gazpacho - Night of the Demon [CD+DVD]

Gazpacho - Night of the Demon
Country of Origin: Norway
Year of Release: 2015
Time: CD 79:23, DVD 119:23
Track List:
CD: Tick Tock Part I (9:27), Tick Tock Part II (8:05), Vulture (5:45), I've Been Walking Part 1 (9:46), The Wizard Of Altai Mountains (4:23), I've Been Walking Part 2 (12:31), Splendid Isolation (8:11), Upside Down (10:17), Massive Illusion (10:58)
DVD: Tick Tock Part I, Tick Tock Part II, Vulture, Golem, I've Been Walking, The Wizard Of Altai Mountains, I've Been Walking Part 2, Winter Is Never, Dingler's Horses, Splendid Isolation, Black Lily, Vera, Upside Down, Massive Illusion
Night of the Demon is the third live offering from Norway's Gazpacho. Following the Night at Loreley DVD and separate 2CD and the Live in London CD, this is the first time they've compiled the DVD and CD into one offering. Filmed on April 12, 2014 at De Boerderij in Zoetmeer, Holland it records one of the bigger concerts in support of their most recent Demon album.

The release of Night of the Demon comes ahead of Kscope releasing the band's early albums on vinyl across 2015, and a brand new studio album, Molok, due later in the year.

Despite filling up the disc, the audio CD features only nine of the 14 concert tracks. The DVD features the full performance; un-enhanced and un-re-recorded in any way.

With a track list taken from across the band's catalogue (Tick Tock, Night, Missa Atropos, Firebirdm, and March of Ghosts are all represented), the DVD stands as an essential addition for existing fans, but also as a very good starting point for new admirers. It serves as an excellent showcase for how the Gazpacho sound and style has evolved over the years. The retrospective nature of the set list also enhances the live show, with plenty of variety and some great changes of pace. We've also the majority of the songs from Demon, which translate well into the live setting.

Despite the low-level lighting, the six camera operators and the sound desk have excelled in capturing the hypnotic intimacy of a Gazpacho concert, which is always more of a concentrated recital, than a free-and-easy live spectacle. There is one exercise in crowd-participation. The in-between-song banter is minimalistic, if captured at all. Indeed, apart from hearty applause, there is little to suggest a crowd is even there.

Chiefly for that reason, I find the CD is a bit of a non-entity. It may have been because I was actually there, but the live in London release benefits from a much warmer live show vibe, and also for having the (almost) full set presented. The loss of five songs on this CD version, ruins the flow for me, especially the removal of Winter is Never which acts as the perfect mid-show break, amidst all the lovely gloom.

With the shorter Black Lily and Vera also removed, the CD set is unbalanced. Kscope is usually very adept at offering fans the complete package. I'd have thought that a DVD-only option, a 2CD-only option and a DVD+2CD option would have been the best way to have packaged this, or perhaps just the DVD+2CD option. This package falls between all stools.

Praise is due for adding some nice notes and illustrations to the booklet. My score is for the DVD part of the package. If sold alone, the CD would only deserve a 6. I'll probably stick with playing the DVD, which is a truly great record of the band in a live setting, and which makes me really look forward to their European tour with the wonderful iamthemorning later this year.
Andy Read: 9 out of 10

Katatonia - Sanctitude [CD+DVD]

Katatonia - Sanctitude
Country of Origin: Sweden
Year of Release: 2015
Time: CD 79:50, DVD 139:50
Track List:
In the White (5:39), Ambitions (5:01), Teargas (3:10), Gone (3:47), A Darkness Coming (5:16), One Year from Now (4:09), The Racing Heart (4:26), Tonight's Music (4:15), Sleeper (4:38), Undo You (4:49), Lethean (4:47), Day (4:38), Idle Blood (4:31), Unfurl (6:33), Omerta (3:37), Evidence (6:06), The One You Are Looking for Is Not Here (4:28), DVD extra: documentary Beyond the Chapel
It may well have been that up to now Katatonia has managed to stay out of the firm grasp of both DPRP readers and writers alike. However if Anathema, with their atmospheric and emotionally-rich music challenges you or just gets you all wound up, then this might be more for you.

Katatonia started way, way back in 1991 and were generally classified as a mix of black, death and doom metal. Yes, theirs are not the brightest moments ever to be recorded in terms of joy. Yet what a joy it is to listen to and to watch Katatonia play a selection of songs from throughout their career.

Last year the band released Last Fair Day Gone Night, a live album of sorts that portrayed their Last Fair Deal Gone Down in full, as well as songs from throughout their career. This is one wholly different beast, as it was recorded on the Dethroned & Uncrowned tour which focused on that album, which included acoustic re-workings of their 2012 release Dead End Kings. This, of course, means that this album is nowhere near anything metal at all. For sure, guitar solos are there, yet they are all woven into beautiful arrangements of songs of the aforementioned album and, of course, of earlier tracks.

The band had their concert at Union Chapel filmed and, those familiar with other concert footage shot there, may well know that that calls for a great atmosphere. Candles are everywhere, with the band clad in darker tones and with lead singer Jonas Renske leading us through the ceremony. He does so very aware of the fact that some of the band members had just left before the tour, and he dares to let the audience in on their nervousness at having Bruce Soord, of The Pineapple Thief fame, and JP Aslund standing in for the members that recently left.

The music throughout the concert is never doomy. As a matter of fact, it is atmospheric during the whole album and, still, never so overtly emotional. The best comparison might be the more emotional side of Anathema yet, still, I would suggest you checking this album out yourself. The songs are mostly compact, never too long, and hold a lot of emotion. This is not one of the happiest albums around, yet it is the way the songs are performed and the way Jonas' vocals fit the music that really makes watching and listening to it a happy experience.

Whether you pick a song like Teargas, Gone, opener In the White or One Year from Now, the rich depths of all these songs make them worthwhile, probably even for the proggiest of our readers. What really rounds it off is the added presence and voice of Silje Wergeland, the singer with The Gathering, as she lends her voice to the closing song The One You Are Looking For Is Not Here. In my humble opinion, acoustic music with prog leanings has never before been brought to the screen in such a poignant and vivid manner.

Even though the subject of the songs may sometimes seem to bring you down, having emotion so vividly portrayed, gives one's life a great boost. For those of you who might venture into unknown territory with this one, if you don't mind your music being a bit heavier than this, then go check out last year's live album or previous studio albums. Katatonia has a lot to offer, and this is just a great introduction to the band and their music.
Marcel Hartenberg: 8.5 out of 10

Neal Morse - Live Momentum [3CD+2DVD]

Neal Morse - Live Momentum
Country of Origin: USA
Year of Release: 2013
Time: CD 174:32, DVD 4 hours
Track List:
Momentum, Weathering Sky, Author of Confusion, The Distance to the Sun, Testimony Suite, Thoughts Part 5, The Conflict, Question Mark Suite, Fly High, World Withgout End, Crazy Horses, Sing it high, KIng Jesus, Tour Documentary (DVD only)
It's taken me in inordinate amount of time to get to this and this review is long long overdue but still, what we have here is a review of the DVD element of the Live Momentum box set from Neal Morse and his band (at that time). This is in reality pretty much the entire Momentum album (apart from Freaks and Smoke and Mirrors) interspersed with other Neal Morse classics from the past few years. This is another momento of a successful album and tour and represents a good way to either recall the particular show that you caught or didn't. What's not in dispute here is the sheer volume of music on offer and the class and commitment of both Neal and the band to portray and proffer this for you audio and visual pleasure.

The show itself is a pretty straightforward multi camera affair with agood resolution and sound with the show split over two discs with a special bonus feature of a tour documentary on the second disc along with a photo gallery. The tracklisting for the triple CD set is exactly the same as for the DVD so you get a complete audio element and a visual element.

The DVD plunges straight into the barnstorming Momentum title track and it is a real corker giving everyone a chance to play some pretty raunchy rock. Offset by Neal's bubbling synth line, this is swiftly followed by The Weathering Sky and Author of Confusion, after which the first of the epic segments follows in the form of the Testimony suite. Now I realise many of Neal's religious views and lyrics can be a barrier for people to enjoy his music, but this is such a well put together segment that this should not be an issue, as the music is top notch stuff. Once again Neal has surrounded himself with his own special triumvirate of Himself, Mike Portnoy and Randy George and of his new musicians Adson Sodre on guitar. The latter brings some real shred to the proceedings but can also play with style and finesse. Eric Gillette and Bill Hubhauer also add their own touches to make this band sound very tight and together indeed. In addition Neal is in especially fine voice.

The Question Mark Suite is another "spiritually influenced" piece, but again if you can just grasp the grandeur and majesty of what he is singing of then it makes some sense. This is stuff that is very close to Neal's heart - why should he be penalised and denigrated for singing about what he believes in?

World Without End was the longest piece on Momentum, so it rightly gets a lengthy performance and portrayal and garners a very positive response here, as it twists through its most impressive 33 minute plus run time. In fact, quite a few of these songs benefit from some extension to their album running times. This was certainly no 70 minute show. Neal certainly believes in giving a lengthy and varied set. For me, this is the standout track on offer here as it gives everyone time to shine, yet never loses touch with what the song is seeking to convey.

Also of note is the somewhat strange inclusion of Crazy Horses (origianlly by The Osmonds) and featuring Mike Portnoy on vocals. Yes, it's a throwaway bit of harmless fun, but it does show that amongst all the deep and meaningful lyrics, there is still room for these guys to simply goof around, swapping instruments and having a bit of fun along the way.

So there you have it. All in all an excellent reminder of the Momentum album and tour, well performed and presented. Is it indispensable? Possibly not, but the legions of Morse fans will eagerly devour this as they await the great man's next missive and musical statement. Whether that is his own stuff, Transatlantic or Flying Colors or something else entirely remains to be seen. (As I write this in 2015 we've seen more activity on all those fronts since this was released, of course.) For the rest - yes, it's good, but as always it's really up to you, caveat emptor (buyer beware).
John Wenlock-Smith: 7 out of 10

Nosound - Teide 2390 [CD+DVD]

Nosound - Teide 2390
Country of Origin: Italy
Year of Release: 2015
Time: 75:23, 110 mins
Track List:
CD: In My Fears (7:00), Fading Silently (8:05), Places Remained (4:46), Kites (7:55), Cold Afterall (6:12), The Anger Song (4:03), Idle End (5:33), Wherever You Are (5:41), Paralysed (7:35), I Miss The Ground (4:49), A New Start (5:05), The Moment She Knew (8:39)
DVD (video section) (35 mins): In My Fears (8:31), Fading Silently (8:09), Places Remained (4:57), Kites (7:55), Cold Afterall (7:59)
DVD (audio section) (75 mins): 5.1 Surround 24/96 MLP lossless mix of all audio tracks
Back in the summer of 2014 Nosound were invited to play live at The Teide Observatory as part of the 2nd Starmus festival in September of that year. The observatory itself is situated at a height of 2390m on Mount Teide, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain. Hence the name of the album: Teide 2390.

The Starmus International Festival is a gathering of like-minded scientists, celebrating astronomy, space exploration, music, art, and allied sciences such as biology and chemistry. The first festival was held in 2011 and the 3rd planned for 2016.

The music itself falls into the psychedelic/space rock genre with slow ambient grooves and sympathetic keyboard work with supporting synthesiser strings. Nosound influences range from Pink Floyd through to Porcupine Tree and Sigur Ros, with the odd hint of Coldplay.

The songs do tend to plod and it's a relief when a soaring guitar enters the scene so to speak (we have to wait about 13 minutes on the CD before we get something that piques the listeners interest as in Fading Silently). You really have to be in the right frame of mind to listen to 75 minutes without interruption – sort of thing to put on when wanting to chill out in a darkened room with the headphones on. It's not bad music (quite enjoyable overall) but there is a repetitiveness of sound and groove that for some prog aficionados would be too much and have them reaching for the eject button.

The melodies are OK (nothing that really will stick in your head on a first listen which is not always a bad thing), good sprinkling of soaring guitar solos (as in The Anger Song) and the keyboard solos are more in line with the style of Floyd's Richard Wright rather than something that Rick Wakeman would come up with.

The DVD itself is rather a lacklustre affair and something you would watch only the once. The short black and white film of the band performing is annoyingly peppered with coloured footage (with a strange background noise – no talking or conversation) of their travels to Tenerife, most of which is being on planes and in airports. It wasn't until the last two songs that the colour footage gets more interesting: shots of the location, stage, mountain top, star filled skies etc. To be fair the DVD is really there to provide full gig stereo at 24 bit/48Khz and 5.1 surround at 24bit/96kHz. However, the colour footage should have concentrated more on the location (possibly band interviews) and the festival itself, rather than seen as the group's holiday snaps! A missed opportunity.

I've heard of Nosound but not had the opportunity until now to listen to them. There is a homogeneity about the choice of songs for this live album which to be honest one needs to be in the mood (or taking some narcotic substance!) to get through this as it does get tedious after a while. That's not to say the music is no good and probably the set list is in sympathy with the ethos of the surroundings and cosmos of the evening. This is after all an Italian psychedelic space rock band. Hats off to Nosound playing in the evening at such an altitude where temperatures must have dropped quite considerably. They and their audience look well wrapped up!

The album did slowly grow on me and would be something I would listen to again when wanting to chill out while sipping a malt whisky (my narcotic substance!). I was very impressed with the overall digipack presentation and photo images.
Alan Weston: 6.5 out of 10

Nuova Idea - Live Anthology [DVD]

Nuova Idea - Live Anthology
Country of Origin: Italy
Year of Release: 2014
Time: 140 mins
Track List:
Live in Verona 2012 (1:24:03): Un Dono, Wizard Intro, Madre Africa, The Game, La Mia Scelta, Un'Isola, Come Come Come, Illusioni Da Poco, Cluster Bombs, This Open Show, C'era Una Volta
Live in Genova 2011 (11:46): Clessidra, Sara' Cosi
RAI Archives (24:33): Come Come Come, Mr. E. Jones, Mr. E. Jones, Sara' Cosi', Illusioni Da Poco, Svegliati Edgar, Un Altro Giorno
Extra (10:36): Interview Paolo Siani, Photo Gallery
I'm a big fan of Italian Progressive Rock (IPR) and have to admit that I've never heard of Nuova Idea (new idea) until now. Apparently their embryonic existence was away back in the early seventies, releasing three studio albums, before breaking up after their 1973 release Clowns. Back in 2011 the original drummer Paolo Siani decided to pour the water of life over this defunct band, and perform old and new material live. In doing so he was aided and abetted by younger musicians as well as a few of the original group members.

The main concert footage is from the Club II Giardinioin Verona, on December 1st 2012, which was recorded and captured on a DVD called Live Anthology. It also contains a short extract from the Genoa gig, Teatro Verdi, on 21st October 2011.

The Verona concert features at least 12 musicians! Most of these musicians taking part wouldn't have been around in the 70's. As they progress through the set, musicians on stage keep changing so you never know who will be singing or playing on the next number. The stage was fairly small (mostly taken up by the drum kit!) and at one time there's so many on stage its amazing no one was hit by a machine head! The little guy sitting in the corner playing percussion wouldn't have been able to see the audience given the multitude of musicians on stage - he looked forlorn and a little out of place!

If you are a fan of IPR then this DVD, albeit not high-definition, you'll certainly find the music very good (I certainly did) and fairly complex. All the classic IPR influences are in there but Nuova Idea do have a sound of their own. I also loved the way they put together old footage from the 70's where the band are introduced by some TV woman. There is a full orchestra (they must have had some musical clout back then!), in B&W, then the band play the opening rift and the video segues to the 2012 gig. Very clever & entertaining. There was certainly a passion, dynamism, and energy throughout these performances and all those taking part looked like they were enjoying the experience. The excellent electric violin playing (Alessandro Graziano) and flute playing (Andrea Calzoni) added another dimension to the complex, often intriguing music. When original (older!) members came on stage the music was propelled even further with some great organ and guitar work. All vocals were very good. However be aware that there's an uninspiring 5 minute drum solo.

The videos themselves are not high-definition but are multi-angle camera shots. I would say the Genoa gig quality wasn't as good so maybe this is why there is only two songs (however a bigger stage!).

The DVD also includes original (be of interest to die-hard fans only) 1970's videos from RAI TV plus an interview with Paolo Siani (in Italian with no subtitles which is unfortunate).

I enjoyed watching this DVD!
Alan Weston: 7 out of 10

Panzerballett - Live at Theatron Munich 2013 [DVD]

Panzerballett - Live at Theatron Munich 2013
Country of Origin: Germany
Year of Release: 2013
Time: 69:52 + extras
Track List:
Mustafari Likes di Carnival (8:25), Some Skunk Funk (7:08), Zehrfunk (10:45), Ein bisschen Frieden (3:50), Time of My Life (6:36), Der Saxdiktator (9:27), Vulgar Display of Sauerkraut (7:41), Donnerwetter (5:29), Friede, Freude, Fussball (10:31)
Panzerballett has always struck a chord with me. Ever since I first let out a chortle at the title of the band's fourth album, Tank Goodness, the explosive jazz-metal outfit has been a true breath of fresh air in what can sometimes feel like a very stagnant environment. You'd be hard pressed to find a band more complex and tight than these guys, and their dedication to the genre is palpable. That being said, they do like to have their fun, and this DVD perfectly showcases this, as well as their jaw-dropping skills.

After you've slipped the disc into an appropriate receptacle, it bluntly asks you whether you'd like German or English, where English here signifies the addition of subtitles to the between-song banter. Very helpful! After that, you can launch yourself straight into the sumptuous set of music.

Most of the songs are introduced by a surprisingly well-spoken Jan Zehrfeld. I say surprisingly, for he is wearing a bizarre piece of headgear that might put you off speaking to him in any other social occasion.

When listening to the studio albums, my overriding thought was: "How is this kind of music possible?" With the DVD I'm spellbound, as the music is brought to life on stage. No tricks, they are actually playing those rhythms! You can let yourself be hypnotised by trying to follow just one instrument at a time, or attempt to shred your invisible guitar along with the music. Anything goes in the world of Panzerballett. This is technical ability on another level altogether, and to see it happen before your very eyes, is an utter treat.

But the treats don't stop there. Also included is over 50 minutes of footage from previous sets, as well as a tour video of a group who clearly felt blessed to be touring the United States. Lastly we have a quarter-hour interview with Herr Zehrfeld who reveals, among other things, a banana hidden in his Panzerballett hoodie. All-in-all this is a very good value set for the fan.

Panzerballett may not do it for everybody, but for those they do do it for, they do it in spades. Uncompromising, raw, clever and pyrotechnic in their delivery, Panzerballett is really one of those bands you need to see to believe. How fortunate then, that they've recorded this superb DVD allowing your eyes, as well as your ears, to catch a glimpse of sheer musical energy at work.
Basil Francis: 8 out of 10

Seven Side Diamond - Enigma (Cinema Version) [DVD]

Seven Side Diamond - Enigma (Cinema Version)
Country of Origin: Brazil
Year of Release: 2013
Time: 32:34
Track List:
Enigma (I. Psique Door) (0:52), Enigma (II. Sunset) (4:41), Enigma (III. Infinite Night) (3:06), Enigma (IV. Loom in the Sky) (01:31), Enigma (V. Labyrinth Lake Mind) (1:52), Enigma (VI. Cryptic Wars) (2:12), Enigma (VII. Sunland Island) (1:22), Enigma (VIII. Secret Dive) (3:33), Enigma (IX. Before) (3:34), Enigma (X. Offhand Funeral) (2:02), Enigma (XI. In) (2:35), Enigma (XII. Life Party 2) (3:50), Enigma (XIII. Speranza) (2:52)
A few months ago I reviewed Seven Side Diamond's album Enigma ((review here), and thoroughly enjoyed listening to this Brazilian outfit. I deliberately didn't review the separate DVD I received at the time, as I wanted to give it some space before returning to this band. I'm glad I did, as the visual impact was an even more visceral experience and these guys have certainly pulled out all the stops to produce a stunning, high-quality DVD.

The main part of this DVD shows the Herculean effort expended in writing the stunning 34-minute piece that takes the title track of that studio album. As I said in my review, Enigma is the tour de force piece from the CD. A 13-part Goliath in terms of prog rock music.

The video is not of the band performing it live, but a well-produced, orchestrated, directed, multi-camera visual delight showing the group clearly enjoying the making of it. These guys are very talented musicians and this shows their capabilities to the full, including seven-stringed acoustic guitars, and six-stringed electric and acoustic basses.

The production is quite clever, as we don't get to see the faces of the band until six minutes have elapsed. But it's the sheer dynamism of the video that is enjoyable, with its many camera angles and shots, the stage lighting, screen backdrops, band and instrument close-ups, and a very intriguing video sequence of a man wearing a head stocking! All-in-all this is a very professionally produced DVD and all credit to the director Fabio Fistaro and co-producer Rafael Micheletto.

The DVD does include extras including a video of Offhand Funeral. This is mainly a vocal effort with piano accompaniment and some dark brooding, discordant undertones towards the end. The other videos of songs from Enigma are Metasong and Shine.

Anyway, after all is said and done, it's unfortunate (unless they hit the jackpot) that this band (like many others) is unlikely to get the global recognition they richly deserve for such a wonderful piece of music and accompanying video of Enigma. They've clearly spent a lot of hard-earned cash to create a high quality video (also available in Blue-ray) and hopefully they will reap some sort of benefit in their own country at least.
Alan Weston: 9 out of 10

TesseracT - Odyssey / Scala [CD+DVD]

TesseracT - Odyssey / Scala
Country of Origin: UK
Year of Release: 2015
Time: 63:45
Track List:
Singularity (Live In Moscow, Russia) (6:24), Deception - Concealing Fate, Pt. 2 (Live In Birmingham, UK) (5:54), The Impossible - Concealing Fate, Pt. 3 (Live In Nottingham, UK) (5:03), Perfection/Epiphany - Concealing Fate, Pt. 4 & 5 (Live In Rome, Italy) (4:25), Origin - Concealing Fate, Pt. 6 (Live In Strasbourg, France) (4:47), Of Matter - Proxy (Live In Cologne, Germany) (5:58), Of Matter - Retrospect (Live In Nijmegen, Netherlands) (5:52), Of Matter - Resist (Live In Budapest, Hungary) (3:47), April (Live In Paris, France) (5:44), Nocturne (Live In Manchester, UK) (5:10), Acceptance - Concealing Fate, Pt. 1 (Live In Moscow, Russia) (10:41)
Right after the return of Daniel Tompkins to TesseracT's microphone, the band went on an intense tour for 42 days, and recorded every night to pick the best performance of each song. The result is the live CD Odyssey, with 11 tracks from various locations, and the DVD Scala that features the band's London gig in it's entirety at the venue of the same name. The label has sent us a promo copy of the CD only, and that's what I began to listen to and review.

So I will begin with my view on the CD first, and talk about the DVD, which is treated as a 'special edition' bonus content, afterwards. There is an interesting twist to it. I went to the Munich leg of the tour and we had a blast that night. The band did a stellar performance and the audience was in an enthusiastic and energetic mood. Judging by the audience that we hear on the CD recordings, it must have been the same during the whole tour. The set list was well balanced, containing material from both albums, with only two songs that provide growling vocals. As already mentioned, the band is great on all songs and the instrumentalists play their music like a bunch of Swiss clocks. Dan Tompkins has a few moments where he had problems, especially on some songs from Altered State. However that's no wonder, as this album was written with Ashe O'Hara, and it is always is a bit problematic to alter from normal technique to falsetto, when it's been composed by another vocalist. So there's an excuse for this, and we should be fine with it. In other moments, Tompkins is still singing brilliantly, but it sounds strange...

And that brings me to a problem with the CD that I really want to point out. The recording quality is at the level of a bootleg. They must have installed two microphones near the front of house and recorded nothing more than just this. One might say that this is in fact true to the hall, but it isn't. What sounds perfect at a concert at 100 dB will not be any good if you get to hear it at home at 50 to 60 dB. At that energy there are frequency interferences that shift the singer slightly out of tune, or make him sound flattering when one auditions it at a lower loudness. Also the guitars don't separate any more and the recordings provide only a very cloudy guitar wall. That way the main aspect of the band and the entire genre is being dragged to the absurd, as the interplay between ambient guitar and groove guitar is melted together. Altogether the mix appears unbalanced, the drums and bass guitar are way too loud over the rest of the band, whereas the guitars have their cloudy play, too far in the background. The vocal melodies in TesseracT are very often a counterpoint in the guitar arrangements, and when that gets broken up, like it has in these recordings, it loses a lot of its beauty, no matter how brilliantly it has been performed. Based on this impression, I would not recommend purchasing the album.

However while gathering data and links for its review, I noticed that Century Media had uploaded the Scala DVD to Youtube in its full duration. And the DVD, I must say, speaks another language.

For the DVD recording, the audio has been multi-tracked and mixed properly and so this outstanding performance is well documented. Everything that is so bad on the CD has been ironed-out in the mix, and the difference of the DVD versus the studio recordings is an overall more energetic sound that even benefits from the live ambience. Video-wise the whole thing has been shot and edited like an attempt to bring the djent party to your home. The headbanging camera operator is something new to me and probably a bit extreme for some, but he fits well with the concept of always being a bit shaky, avoiding focusing on an object or person and cutting fast.

You will not see how the guitarists play their notes or how the drummer beats his drums, but you will feel like partying when you watch this and become quite enthusiastic. It seems even to fit the band's general stage set up, as the musicians are only illuminated from behind, and that way the audience usually sees their silhouettes only. Maybe the party-style video is just a result of that, but it's cool, and brings great atmosphere to your home, no question.

Under normal conditions my review would concentrate on the offered product, the CD, more or less ignoring the special edition content. That way I would rate Odyssey / Scala rather low, as only extreme TesseracT-enthusiasts would want to listen to this CD. But since there is no 'regular edition' and both offered formats have the DVD bundled, I find it safe to break the rule and promote the great content of the DVD. The marketing concept is totally weird for me. I would have released this package as a DVD product and added the other audio as special content (on the same disk), not the way Century Media has done it here.

Also, only sending the CD to reviewers is a mistake that could become really tragic. On top of that, they've uploaded the only part that's good (in their eyes the 'bonus' content) to YouTube, for everybody to watch and listen for free. We'll have to see if this contract will be continued. Anyhow, you can stream Scala by clicking the YouTube link provided, and you really should. If you like it, do the band a favor and purchase it. There is no such thing as too much band support.
Raimond Fischbach: 8 out of 10
Album Reviews