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Slechtvalk - Upon the Fields of Battle DVD

For those who were anticipating the new Slechtvalk album, 2005 has been an exciting year for sure!  Not only did they release a great new full-length, but they also released a maxi-single and this live DVD.  Before viewing this for the first time, I had heard many good things about it.  After seeing the finished product, I can see why.  Slechtvalk and Fear Dark Records have put together a great package of extreme metal that will captivate fans.  The DVD includes a full concert, a video clip, lots of backstage footage, and photos.

The live concert is where the band really shines.  Slechtvalk does an incredible job in a live setting.  The sound here is excellent and the camera work is very good.  The band has a great stage presence throughout and the packed crowd loves every minute of it.  The band plays 10 songs, plus an intro, and they seem to be "on" all night.  The standout songs are hard to pick, but I'd have to choose songs like "Under a Moonlit Sky", "Call to Arms", "Desertion", and "In Paradisum".  It's great to see Ohtar and Shamgar take command of the stage with their dueling vocals.  Fionnghuala does a fabulous job on female vocals.  And the other female, Meallá, adds some sword swinging that would've made me very nervous to be in the front row.  And the other guys...especially Grimbold on drums, do a fantastic job.  Grimbold just looks menacing behind the drum kit.  Ohtar, who seems to be the one who is attracted to the camera the most during the backstage footage, and the one who seems to be the biggest jokester, is nothing but scary on stage.  He could give small kids nightmares for weeks.  All of the band members are also decked out in their medieval-styled clothing.  Speaking of backstage footage, the extra material is pretty interesting.  They show the concert hall being set up from as early as five hours before the concert.  Then they show the band getting ready, painting their faces, getting into their concert attire, and just hanging out watching TV and drinking beers.  Although, 99.9% of the talking is in Dutch (??), they do include English subtitles.  The video clip that is included is for "Thunder of War".  While the song is killer, the video is just so-so.  The concert footage is good, but the band clips outside don't go over very well.  Just seems too contrived for me.

One thing I did notice that was quite annoying...the first time I watched this, I watched it on my computer and it looked and sounded great.  However, the second time I watched it was on my TV in my living room.  The result was very different on my DVD player there.  Shamgar's guitar was practically muted the entire concert.  This was especially noticeable at the beginning of a few songs and during the acoustic part of "Call to Arms".  Then, the words that were being sung didn't go along with the movement of the mouths.  Plus, the drumming seemed off too.  Then...during the backstage footage, the words were so far down on the screen, you could only read the top line and not the bottom two.  So, English subtitles did basically nothing as you missed most of the conversation.  I stopped and started my DVD player (which has always worked fine in the past) to see if that would help to maybe reset things, but it didn't help.  I guess that future viewings of this will be on the computer.  A little bit of a downer, but who knows...it could just be my TV and DVD player and not the actual DVD itself. 

One thing is for certain, this is a high quality DVD release and all Slechtvalk and black metal fans should pick up a copy as soon as possible.  Let's hope that more of the Fear Dark bands can do something like this in the future.  Seeing as how us metal fans in America rarely get to see these bands, this is a great chance to see what we've been missing.

Rating: 91/100

Review By: Matt Morrow

Label: Fear Dark Records

Total Songs: 11 (plus 1 video clip, backstage footage, and photos).

Total Time: 75:00

Tracklisting: 1. Intro, 2. Thunder of War, 3. Of Slumber and Death, 4. War of the Ancients, 5. Under a Moonlit Sky, 6. Call to Arms, 7. Whispers in the Dark, 8. Desertion, 9. Besieged, 10. In Paradisum, 11. Cries of the Haunted.

Best Songs: Clips 5, 6, 8, and 10.

Band Lineup: Shamgar - Guitar/Vocals, Ohtar - Guitar/Vocals/Flute, Fionnghuala - Soprano/Flute, Nath - Bass, Hydrith - Keyboards, Grimbold - Drums/Additional Vocals.

Band Website: http://www.slechtvalk.com