IN EXTREMO is not only the most famous Medieval Rock outfits but also one of Germany’s most spectacular live bands. It’s impressive to see the seven members on a well decorated stage while they perform exotic instruments such as davuls, harps, mandolin, nyckelharpas, pipers, shawms and so on. Big banners, fireworks, light shows, loads of visual effects and even a few modern influences such as monitors showing little clips that introduce the band can be found on stage. All of this wouldn’t be that great if the band wasn’t able to rock. Despite the large amount of exotic instruments, these guys do rock and deliver sharp riffs, energizing drum rhythms and are fronted by a charismatic lead singer who portrays some sort of tough charm that can be compared to an old sailor. It’s always a pleasure to see the band on stage but their most creative shows have probably been made for the tour that followed their masterpiece “Mein resend Herz” back in 2005. The stage was very well decorated back then and the upcoming tours would have been less spectacular.
The main concert of this release had been filmed in the small city of Siegen, Germany back in spring 2011. Neither the city nor the crowd are spectacular and the stage is less impressive as it had been six years before but the concert is nevertheless energizing. The band cut of four songs from the final version which I think was a mistake but these cuts are not that evident and don’t harm the flow of this release.
A main attention lies on the new songs from the band’s last studio record “Sterneneisen” which I appreciated a lot. From powerful sing along hymns such as the first single “Zigeunerskat” over almost dreamy and progressive moments as in the haunting second single “Siehst du das Licht” or rather brutal and dark smashers in form of “Unsichtbar”, the band offers many diversified killer tracks that easily meet and even exceed the expectations. Some songs even work better live than in studio like the haunting traditional “Zauberspruch No. VII” that is sung in traditional Estonian and where the band goes back to its roots in a credible and fresh manner.
The band also included some of their classics and fan favourites in the concert, such as the famous traditional Swedish tale “Herr Mannelig”, the vivid interpretation of the brutal German poem “Spielmannsfluch” or the surprisingly modern and electronically driven rocker “Omnia Sol Temperat” that features Latin lyrics.
Apart of the epic and hypnotizing “In diesem Licht” that I didn't expect in the set list, the band though only comes around with classics or very recent material and fails to deliver one or two surprises that they had delivered in the past. A version of the funny “Werd’ ich am Galgen hochgezogen”, the depressive and vengeful ballad “Unter dem Meer” or the epic sleeping song “Mein Kind” would have been tracks that could have delivered a few stunning moments.
Nevertheless, the concert is great and I would place this live release only behind the “Raue Spree 2005” release and the old school acoustic release “Die Verrückten sind in der Stadt” that was recorded at some traditional German medieval markets in front of small crowds.
The limited edition contains both the concert on DVD and partially on CD as well as bonus material in form of documentaries, live shots from the 2011 Rock am Ring festival performance as well as three video clips that have been made for the last three singles that are though not very originally done. The collector’s version even contains a photo book with numerous stunning pictures from the last tour.
Anybody who doesn’t know IN EXTREMO can change this now and grab this latest release of the band to discover old classics and great new material as well. For any fan, this new release is also a definite must have. Fans of any kind of Folk music, exotic cultures and languages or history in general have no choice but to discover this band as soon as possible. In my humble opinion, this band is still Germany’s best and after having shown the live recordings to some of my friends, they have understood why I like them so much. Get your own idea of that band and grab this great live recording while we impatiently wait for another studio record that may come around in the next months.
(Online April 18, 2013)