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Filmed at the ancient Roman Theatre of Philippopolis in Plovdiv, Bulgaria on September 20th 2014.
The British goth metal trailblazers Paradise Lost's new DVD is a live performance filmed at an ancient Roman Theater and is divided in 2 halves, roughly ticking in at 40 minutes each. One quite crappy half and one quite good one.
The first half comprises Paradise Lost together with the Plovdiv Philharmonic Orchestra and this part to me basically is a waste of space and I've never really seen the point of putting together a metal band of any kind with a symphonic orchestra in the first place. Admittedly, the full-blown sound, coming from the orchestra, creates another dimension to the music and the music gets richer, but on the other hand, all these tones are sort of drowning the original sound of the songs and are in the end making the songs come out way worse than they originally were meant to be.
This part doesn't contain any explosivity or action from the band at all either. I surely know that being gruff and rigid is part of their performance and so are the quite funny things that Nick Holmes occasionally says between the songs as well, but the band just seems too caught up in the moment of this one of a kind and maybe once in a lifetime experience and they are just too stiff overall to really be able to put on a good live show here. If it hadn't been for the songs' great capacity in their undefiled and pure form, to which I'm very familiar with, I would even probably have gone further in my not so flattering words about this part of the film.
When they place the orchestra back in the dungeons again and enter the second half of this disc, it's like a totally new chapter in terms of pretty much everything. The performance is suddenly changing to become far more intense and the band says goodbye to being shackled by all the subconscious restraints that the orchestra unconsciously put on them. You will absolutely never see Paradise Lost run around the stage like they've been set on fire, but as far as I'm concerned, they still feel more comfortable during this act where they're not being affected by all the distractions from behind them. On this second half they also choose to play many of their most popular songs and the crowd is definitely on its feet, as we're back to a more genuine metal concert again.
The sound quality of the film is a little bit enhanced of course, but, as you're fully aware of at this point, I would have preferred a different kind of mixing where the orchestra would have been less audible. The picture quality is partly a little bit insufficient, yet it's actually of no major concern to me, because Paradise Lost has never been about big stage productions and this matter is mostly visible when they're filming the large choir in the back where they are standing kind of in a shaded area, 10 feet above the stage floor.
The bonus features on this DVD are close to being non-existent. It's really just a 12 minute short documentary where the members of the band, and a few guys in the team behind them, tell their sides of the story and what a great experience it was to be on stage and performing in this amphitheater. With 2 so different pieces to appraise, it's quite difficult to put a rating to this product, but I have in the end decided to land somewhere in the middle of the scale, to reach some kind of mean value.