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Note: I only had the audio material from the show at Woodstock Open Air in Poland for review. There is much more material, from other shows, on the DVDs but the setlists are quite similar. Whether this kind of accumulation of shows makes sense at all is arguable, to say the least, but because I don´t have much to compare it to I will not judge about it.
The first thing I wonder about is the raison d´être of this DVD. Just two years ago, Sabaton released “World War Live”, a huge CD/DVD package containing two CDs with best-of live recordings and one DVD featuring a show recorded in Sweden. Meanwhile, the band released another album but only three tracks from it made their way onto this new DVD. Almost the entire rest of the setlist is also on “World War Live” with two exceptions: ”Midway” and “Into the Fire” are previously unreleased as live recordings.
The band, of course, is on fire throughout the entire show. The new guys, including frontman Joakim Broden, are playing at the top of their abilities here. But nevertheless, the sound could sometimes be better. The producer actually tried to capture as much atmosphere coming from the gigantic crowd (600,000!) as possible and he did a good job. It gives the viewer/listener one or the other goose bump moment, reminiscent of some Maiden live recordings from South America. But focussing on the crowd has a negative effect on the instruments because their sound gets too much echo, taking a lot of the instruments´ punch away. Drums and guitars suffer the most because the omnipresent keyboards simply overpower them. In direct comparison, I prefer the more straight sound of “World War Live” instead. In addition, you can hear some feedbacks on the recordings. Of course, they can´t be totally avoided during a live show and they are proof of its authenticity but, in fact, nobody wants to hear them.
As mentioned at the beginning, the main question is how much sense this release makes. Die hard Sabaton maniacs can, of course, buy this DVD without any hesitation. Others, who already own “World War Live” and only listen to Sabaton occasionally do not really need “Swedish Empire Live”.