Dark Tranquillity - Live Damage DVD
Century Media
Melodic Death Metal
21 songs (195')
Release year: 2004
Dark Tranquillity, Century Media
Reviewed by Alex

I am sure many of you were in a situation like this before. You awaited something for so long when the event finally occurred you were worried if it was going to meet your expectations. Lucky Europeans had a chance to watch Live Damage DVD by Dark Tranquillity for months now. Alas, the days of PAL domination are over and the NTSC version arrived at my door this Monday. Fighting for TV time with my family wasn’t easy, but I have to tell you – this DVD, as lengthy as the wait was, does not disappoint. In fact, it met all my expectations and SURPASSED them. And beings that Dark Tranquillity is my favorite band in Metal, those expectations were immense. I will try to stop drooling for now and make an attempt to describe the product for you.

As the band says, this DVD was not supposed to be a retrospective of a 14 year history, but a concert in support of the latest studio album Damage Done. All DVD tracks are recorded at the single show in Krakow, Poland on October 7, 2002. Whether it is normal concert duration for Dark Tranquillity, but the Poles were privileged to see the band ramble through 21 tracks, including the electronic Intro and instrumental outro Ex Nihilo from Damage Done. What a difference from the only time Dark Tranquillity visited the US as a part of In Flames tour and only had 30 min to play. Still, till the day I die I will remember Niklas Sundin spotting my DT T-shirt in Detroit and Mikael Stanne signing my CDs. Damage Done is heavily represented by the total of 8 songs, and as good as the album is, these songs are indeed the crème of the crop. In addition to what I heard live in Detroit, The Treason Wall, White Noise/Black Silence, Monochromatic Stains, Final Resistance, the band included Format C: For Cortex and Hours Passed in Exile with that monster of on opening riff, title track and the aforementioned Ex Nihilo.

The only portions of the catalog not covered are the first full-length Skydancer and both EPs Of Chaos and Eternal Light and Enter Suicidal Angels. Songs from the first two with their long winding complex compositions are probably not the best choice to do live anyway. All other albums are represented, and either I am in tune with what Dark Tranquillity thinks is their best material, or I took part in the song selection for the DVD. As my many friends, who I tried to introduce to this amazing band, would testify the song collections I have made for them have just about every song that appears on the DVD. The Gallery is represented by an absolute masterpiece crowd favorite Punish My Heaven and the heart-ripper Lethe. The crowd goes wild, as it should, for the first famous lead in Punish My Heaven and becomes subdued when the closing folk influenced lead is played by Martin Henriksson. Intro melody to Lethe is now done with a healthy dose of electronics, and no female jumps out to help Mikael with the backing vocals. Two monumental pieces Hedon and Insanity’s Crescendo from The Mind’s I make appearance along with fast paced Zodijackyl Light. I never even knew that Dark Tranquillity would do Insanity’s Crescendo live (no female vocals either)! Freecard is my only favorite missing from Projector, but UnDo Control “settles” the crowd, The Sun Fired Blanks fires it up, and ThereIn successfully does both. Haven, the album that sealed electronics as an integral part of the band, opens the DVD with a monster The Wonders At Your Feet, “invites the dark side in” with its title track, promises that everything will crumble with Not Built to Last and even includes Indifferent Suns (yes, Oleg, if you are reading this the song made the DVD).

Every member of the band pulls in an excellent performance. Anders Jivarp on drums is as steady as they come, his drumming propels and ignites the sound of today’s Dark Tranquillity. It is either my new awesome home theater or the clarity of the production, but the cymbal sound is unbelievable and bass rips my subwoofer in two. Michael Nicklasson has time to beat his 4-string and fire up the crowd at the same time. Both guitarists, Niklas Sundin and Martin Henriksson, trade leads and chop riffs with the album quality clarity, but have time to headbang as well. Martin Brandstrom on keyboards is indeed a quintessential member of the band. I could not imagine these songs without his electronics. The balance between guitars and keyboards is stricken with perfection with the latter adding but not usurping. The older songs that did not have keyboards associated with them previously (those from The Gallery and The Mind’s I) are transformed and modernized by the keyboard sound. Hedon and Lethe, as good as they were, are made fuller and 3-dimentional now. Finally, the vocals. Stanne stuns (pun intended). He is roaring, aggressive, menacing, but audible all the while. He is brave enough to even slip in his clear vocals (Projector songs). Brave, because of the amount of flack the band received for that. I for one think it was an incredible album, just like anything Dark Tranquillity ever put out. Yes, his clear vocals are not as “clear” as they were in the studio, and I would have liked the vocal tracks overall to be mixed just a tad higher, but this is not even a complaint on my part. Throughout the concert Mikael moves around, engages the crowd, introduces band members and does incredible twists with his flexible slender frame. With every word-verse-chorus I could feel the pain, anxiety, frustration, human feelings emanating from this redheaded devil-angel.

I already mentioned the quality of sound production, and, yes, surround sound rules. Video focuses on the band just about exclusively giving a very few scant shots of the crowd, and you don’t hear peoples’ participation that much. Several cameras are employed, so later on the montage stages the shots had an ability to move around very quickly from one band member to the other. Sometimes too quickly. Even though you do see Niklas and Martin guitar playing you can’t study their fretboard techniques from this video. The color scheme is way too vivid. The lighting sometimes switches so fast, it is certain to give your eyes an ache.

The package does not stop on just the Krakow concert. There are 16 more bootleg songs recorded at three separate shows, two videos (Monochromatic Stains – very weird, and ThereIn), loooong interview with the band, band biography, individual member profiles, discography, photo gallery, desktop images. This is definitely more than worth your hard earned money.

I do not intend to buy many DVDs (and certainly not review them, as this is already too long), but this one I could not miss. Any of you who are the fans of this amazing band – this is a must have. Any of you who heard about Dark Tranquillity but are “not sure” – it is about time you go and discover the best possible way the single band could marry melody, aggression, quality musicianship and a load of introspective overwhelming human emotions Dark Tranquillity projects.

Killing Songs :
This is one MONSTER package!!
Alex quoted no quote
Other albums by Dark Tranquillity that we have reviewed:
Dark Tranquillity - Atoma reviewed by Alex and quoted 88 / 100
Dark Tranquillity - Construct reviewed by Jared and quoted 65 / 100
Dark Tranquillity - Zero Distance EP reviewed by Chris and quoted No quote
Dark Tranquillity - The Mind's I reviewed by Goat and quoted 77 / 100
Dark Tranquillity - We Are The Void reviewed by Goat and quoted 86 / 100
To see all 15 reviews click here
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