Sound — 9
The two long weeks had been agonizing: after placing an order for The Church of Tiamat, Tiamat's first and only DVD release to date, it seemed that my entire existence revolved around the day that I would receive a phone call stating that: your order is in. When it came, I rushed down to the music store, rushed back home, and with almost quivering hands removed the DVD from it's case and played it on my DVD Player. Certainly, I was excited to have finally gotten The Church of Tiamat, but after waiting two long weeks, my expectancy of the content was very high. With a quick introduction of Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen, we are Tiamat from Sweden, the band launched into the first song to greet my ears: Vote for Love, where I noticed the first of many surprises: Thomas Wyreson, the lead guitarist, was not present: his position was instead filled by (then) Arch Enemy guitarist Fredrik kesson. While slightly disappointed (I wanted to see the full band) his playing through many of the tracks has that distinct Tiamat sound I have come to know and love, while his distinct solos rings out in songs such as Cain and To Have and Have Not. Frontman Johan Edlund's vocals are not as soft as on his albums, having a heavier rock oriented sound, while being decidedly flat. While he sounds different from Tiamat's many albums, Edlund retains that unique voice that makes him recognizable. With bassist Anders Iwers and Fredrik kesson delivering some very good backing vocals, the singing sounds very good, even if it does remain flat throughout the concert. Together as a band, Tiamat sounds excellent. Their sound on the DVD tends to be heavier than on their albums, notable examples include the faster tempo in Cold Seed and the punchier guitar riffs in As Long As You Are Mine. The distinct voices of guitar, drum, bass, and keyboard blend together in perfect harmony to make Tiamat's sound distinctly their own.
Content — 10
The 15 songs played live in Krakow, Poland are very well selected. Between the head-banging The Sleeping Beauty (with guest vocals by Peter Tgtgren from Hypocrisy, ) Wildhoney epic Gaia, keyboard heavy As Long as You Are Mine and gothic metal Cain, there should be something for fans both new and old. But should you grow tired of listening to their main concert, there are plenty of extras to be had. Of particular interest was the 26 minute interview with Tiamat's Johan Edlund and Anders Iwers, covering a topics from how the band started, some of their influences, their musical evolution, views on religion, views of commercial success, and a description of (as of then) all eight of their studio albums. The interviewer has a fairly thick accent, so some people (I.e. Me) might have to have the question repeated a time or two in order to understand what she is asking. Luckily, the interview is divided up into 14 different parts, so you aren't left stumbling through the fairly long interview looking for that one part. Their 13 bonus videos are a variety of music videos, concerts, and even an animated video created by Eugene Erhan featuring one of their songs. Of interests to big Tiamat fans is the inclusion of the song Where the Serpents Ever Dwell from their first live performance. These movies can either be watched separately, or can be all played in a feature called The History of Tiamat. Featuring brief commentary before the videos, Johan Edlund takes the viewer on a musical journey from Tiamat's early Death Metal roots found in Sumerian Cry, all the way to the Gothic Metal sounds of their album Prey. Also includes is a discography, a photo gallery of the concert, an art gallery featuring the covers of their albums and EPs, four desktop wallpapers, websites of interests, and even a tab proudly displaying the Tiamat logo. For the price of $15.00, I consider the 2 hours and 41 minutes of overall content to be well worth the price.
Production Quality — 10
No handheld cameras in the back-row for this concert: the production quality for this DVD is outstanding, making this another job-well-done by Metal Mind Productions. Featuring several camera angles, focusing primarily on the band throughout the show, there is plenty of movement to keep the visuals very interesting. Not only are the camera angles varied, but they also make sense: when a guitar solo starts, the focus is on the lead guitarist, not a random person in the back of the audience. With the combination of the excellent camera work, the phenomenal visual quality of the video, and the excellent audio (available in DTS or Dolby Digital 5.1 surround or DD stereo), I sometimes felt like I was actually there.
Overall Impression — 10
The Church of Tiamat is one of those rare DVDs that feels and sounds fresh each and every time it is played: with over a one year time of ownership, I have never once found any of the songs to become suddenly boring. The songs sound similar to their counterparts, but are different enough to make them a real treat to listen to. With plenty of unexpected surprises of a good nature to be had from both Tiamat and their Polish fans. There are some laughs to be had from watching this concert (and not at anyone's expense, I might add, ) plenty of moments where you thing Now THAT was awesome! and the best part is that upon completion you are left with a feeling of pure bliss. If you are a Tiamat fan, like their style/genre of music, or are looking for something a little different, then stop reading, go to your favorite music shop, and place an order for The Church of Tiamat. You will not be disappointed.