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Additional personnel: Past members: Oliver Fuhlhage (Guitars), Thorsten Plorin (bass), Arved Mannott (drums), Sascha Onnen (keyboards). Guests: Udo Dirkschneider, Bernhard Weiss, Marco Wriedt, Amanda Somerville, Sascha Paeth, Peavy Wagner, Herman Frank, Michael Ehré, Peter Knorn, Stephan Lill, Chitral "Chity" Somapala, Herbie Langhans.
To celebrate the band's 20 years of existence, Mob Rules releases a boxed set which comprises 3 CDs and an additional DVD. The initial CD includes a selection of songs taken from the band's entire career, with the sole exception of songs off the debut album, even if a live version of Rain Song is featured on the disc. Which songs are included is always up for debate and I guess anyone's opinion matters as much as anyone else's. Although I definitely like what's being offered here, I reckon that I personally could have ditched close to half of the songs, in favor of my own blend, if I happened to be the one to finalize the tracklist.
The second disc features mainly new versions of older songs. All with a number of invited guests putting their brand on the material. I really can't say that the songs step up to become bigger and although they undoubtedly are all right in total, no question about it, I mainly prefer the original recordings a little, with all their authenticity and partly rougher approach, which at the end of the day often cannot be reactivated in terms of originality, impression and appearance. Still this feature with slightly different versions is a cool thing to listen to anyway.
Also included in the remakes are the cover songs Lights Out (by UFO) and Run With The Wolf (by Rainbow), which I personally look at as cool things for the band to complete and not something that I wanna praise too much. Last but not least, 2 brand new songs are included and the orchestral version of My Kingdom Come doesn't really hit me big-time and so does not the track Broken either. The single My Kingdom Come concludes the 3 CD chapters and this version definitely strikes harder than what the other did and I really embraced this one quickly. It carries a great melody as far as I'm concerned and sometimes that's all that it takes to bring out a great track.
Featured on the DVD is initially a one hour performance recorded live in 2011 at Progpower USA in Atlanta, Georgia. The venue's space is somewhat limited and therefore some of the filmed material runs from angles that seem a little desperate and constrained. Nevertheless I feel satisfied with not having to view yet another film recorded at huge open air festivals in Europe. The overall picture is definitely of supreme quality and the audio goes a little hand in hand with that point of view as well. Mob Rules is a unit which doesn't play a lot of live shows and I think that you are able to spot some inexperience in their moving patterns during the set. They totally enjoy the moment on the stage however and when looking at the list of songs, it contains mainly newer material, so this is absolutely not a band reliving its past.
5 official video clips and 7 bonus clips of varied quality and fame follow the live performance. The video clips in both of these sections are chiefly videos that include live activities. The bonus features could have been more memorable, if there had been any good material to put on this disc in the first place. I was really looking forward to see Ethnolution Tour - The Scandinavian Chapter, but this part is unfortunately mainly spoken in German, without any subtitles, and that naturally ruins the experience for non German speakers.
To sum things up as a whole package, I think that this box practically is a good document of what Mob Rules is and was and Klaus Dirks' voice still works great to my ears, both in the studio and during live shows. With its melodic metal with elements of progressive power metal included, these Germans never got the break to boost their career and I guess it doesn't matter how hard they will try in the coming years, because although I fancy a lot of the band's work, I doubt that they will get any bigger recognition in the metal community when push finally comes to shove.