Circle Of Pain - Classic Live Tunes
First things first, before I start with the reviewing I want to make one thing very clear: the DVD and the CD are two separate releases that are sold separately. If you buy the DVD, you do not get the CD and vice versa. But to make it easier for myself, and for you, I have included both releases in the same review since they more or less contains the same things anyway.
Circle of Pain was founded in 1994 under the moniker Tipsy Slut. During the years they have released several albums and already with their debut mini cd Life Is On TV they were apparently well received not only by the public but also by the critics. In 2001, they changed their name to Circle Of Pain and obviously managed to obtain some noteworthy achievements countrywide. In Germany that is, since to me and probably many more outside of Germany their long history has never been known and Classic Live Tunes is the first time acquaintance that I have with the band.
Classic Live Tunes is as you can tell by the name a live
album, it was recorded during the Paradox Of Destitution tour that consisted
of over 100 shows in Europe. And the title Classic Live Tunes is not
to be mistaken for a best of album with classic Circle Of Pain songs,
as some of the concerts on the tour was performed with Südhessen
Classic orchestra under the name Paradox Classixx. And it is with the
orchestra the songs are performed on this release, hence the name. In
2001 Circle of Pain released a concept album entitled Paradox Of Destitution
and it is this album that you get in a live version played back to back.
Musically, Circle Of Pain serve you classic German hard rock with hints
of the eighties, no more no less. Melodic hard rock and bands like Scorpions,
Bonfire and Axxis come from the same area of music. In this rock opera
the orchestra is not used to the full extent that I think that they
could have done. However I have not heard the album versions and do
not know if those feature any orchestrations, but on this live album
the orchestra is kept too far in the back. Further, it is not integrated
with the music from Circle of Pain but more kept in the back to fill
the music rather then to play a major part of it. To make the performance
complete it also features some guests in form of a narrator and a female
vocalist that performs a duet with vocalist Uwe Johann.
The picture quality is perfectly alright on the DVD, even if I get disturbed when you sometimes can see cameras in frame they have captured the performance well. And it appears to be confident guys on stage that perform well even if they look a bit stiff. It is like someone has said to them that there is your mark where you will be standing, don't move. Even if the performance is done well the concert never creates any magic, perhaps because there is a huge gap between the stage and the audience, and the fact that the audience is seated. It lacks intimacy and intensity even if the crowd is politely clapping along at times, the interaction with the audience is shining with its absence. The sound is good as well even if it tends to have a hollow sound and, as I said, the orchestra is too far back but apart from that it is a good live sound on the DVD. The extras on the DVD are worth the money. If you are German, that is. The lack of subtitles makes the behind the scenes footage and interviews and such completely pointless for me, and I guess everyone else who does not speak or understand German.
Take away the visual and most things I have said concerning the DVD also goes for the CD, although the CD offers a slightly different set list. But the songs from the concept album are in the correct order, it is the additional songs that differ. Songs that are from a benefit concert under the name of United Artists For Bosnia that are also featured as an extra show on the DVD. The tracks on the album are separately mastered versions of the concerts and even if the DVD has 5.1 sound I think the sound of the CD is better. It is thicker and more solid and the hollow sound picture is gone. To me the CD is more adequate.
Although personally I think that Circle Of Pain suffer
from the vocals. They are unstable and Uwe Johann's pronunciations make
it hard to hear what he sings and unfortunately this bring the grade
down. As does the fact that the songs are mostly no more than average.
A few of them stick out and are really good but far too few are of that
quality. How good of an introduction to Circle Of Pain this release
can be is hard for me to tell, but for the fans this surely ought to
be a must.