Live Retaliation

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Norse progressive black metalers Enslaved embarked on their first video journey with Live Retaliation, which offers a solid live set filmed in Krakow, Poland, in October 2002, as well as a few bonus features. While the pro-shot live footage is excellent (fans of extreme metal may be familiar with the Krakow stage, as Dimmu Borgir, My Dying Bride, Anathema, and the Gathering are among the acts that have shot live DVDs there), the band's visual presentation is relatively bare-bones, leaving one with two basic conclusions: first, Enslaved's music grew increasingly cerebral as the creative ambitions of main songwriters Ivar Peersen (guitar) and Grutle Kjellson (bass/vocals) progressed; and second, the focus on this DVD is the music first and foremost, the live set here presented in a superb digital 5.1 mix, showing the band's ability to go the extra mile and successfully utilize the dynamic capacities of the DVD format (which, notably, puts to shame similar projects by the band's contemporaries). While watching Enslaved perform isn't always a kinetic experience, those familiar with the songs will find Live Retaliation moderately compelling; it helps that the band incorporates a solid cross-section of old and new material throughout the 67-minute live show, playing a handful of tracks from classic album Frost as well as three comparatively psychedelic meanderings from 2003's Below the Lights ("As Fire Swept Clean the Earth" carefully balances dank moodiness with aggressive riffs) and a relatively sprightly cover of Autopsy's sludge beast "Retribution for the Dead." The compilation also includes six unreleased audio tracks (four ash can-quality garage demos, a shoddy live version of "Viking Metal," and superb 2000 studio outtake "Sleipnr"); a disappointingly awkward interview with Kjellson, Peerson, and soon-to-be-ex-drummer Dirge Rep; and a few text-based features, including a band biography, individual member profiles, discography, and photo galleries. Although Live Retaliation, when all is said and done, offers nothing new and exciting to the DVD format, it is a carefully and expertly assembled compilation -- all the way down to the well-designed menus -- which makes it well worth seeking out for Enslaved's small but loyal fan base.

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