A Decade And A Half (DVD)
Released: 2015, SPV
This month I’ve reviewed five documentaries from across the ages. One covering a band the 70’s (Twisted Sister), a pair from the 80’s (the LA Glam scene), one from the 90’s (At The Gates) and one from post 2000 (Edenbridge). Feel free to read all my reviews of these very different documentaries spanning well over 40 years.
I joined the Edenbridge fan-club some time ago and I had pre-ordered the new album THE GREAT MOMENTUM, which I also reviewed here this month. I decided to splurge and pair it up with the massive DVD set, A DECADE AND A HALF…THE STORY SO FAR. This was largely a crowd-funded, independent release but in co-operation with SPV to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Austria’s symphonic Metal pioneers.
The package is quite nice, it comes with a full-colour, eight page booklet with lots of photos and liner notes. The set is houses six discs, in a four panel foldout case and each disc at 1.5 hours gives us a total run time of nine hours! I think this is the longest DVD set I have, of any Metal band, even beating Cataclysm’s five hour documentary IRON WILL that was released back in 2012. As I mentioned in my intro, I reviewed four DVD’s from across the ages this month there quite a difference in quality in footage! Edenbridge being the most recent, newest band obviously had the best quality archival footage, perhaps a sign of the times where everyone records everything now.
Disc One starts quite abruptly and doves right into the centerpiece of Disc One and Disc Two which is an extended interview with founders Sabine and Lanvall and former bass player Kurt Bednarsky and former guitarist Andreas Eibler. The four early members of Edenbridge sit around a sun-room they reminisce about old times and slowly work their way through the early years of the band and the pre-Edenbridge band, Cascade. It is remarkable that the band achieved such a degree of success very early on. In an odd scenario they recorded an album in 1998 and sent it to record labels before they had ever played a live concert. It was rejected. They resent the exact same songs back to the same record labels in 2000 and were signed instantly to a multi-album deal with Massacre and within two years they were touring the world especially Asia where they toured as far back as 2002. This brings me to my next point.
I believe that Edenbridge, not Nightwish, are one of the very first, if not the first, symphonic female fronted band. At one point in the DVD singer Sabine said in the beginning they had never heard of Nightwish before. Initially, I found this very hard to believe as Edenbridges debut album came out in 2000 after there were already three Nightwish albums out including the break-out album, WISHMASTER. However, as the story unfolds we realize that Sabine and Lanvall had been doing that style as early as 1995! The first Nightwish album came out on a small label in late, late 1997. It is unlikely the small band from Finland and the small band from Austria were truly aware of each other, let alone one being able to claim an influence on each other. If Edenbrdige has got their first independent album signed and released in nearly 1998 when they first submitted it instead of late 2000, they would be more recognized as the innovators they are. As it stands, Nightwish’s label took a chance on them, and the other labels did not take a chance on Edenbridge. Fast forward two years later, Nightwish is exploding and the record labels look again at Edenbridge and say, “Oh yes, these guys are talented, exciting and marketable, just like Nightwish. We need out own Nightwish-styled band !” and then Edenbridge finally gets signed but then by sheer accident of timing and poor luck, become number two. Shortly after, with in three years, everyone jumped on the bandwagon; Epica, Leave’s Eyes, After Forever, Sirenia, Xandria, Imperia, Elis, Visions Of Atlantis…the list goes on and on as the globe discovered this innovative new sound. I firmly believe that Edenbridge (Cascade) was the first band to do this style (neo-classic, symphonic, female-fronted etc) and they don’t get the credit they deserve.
Back to the review the history that spans two discs is very interesting, even if it is sub-titled. The documentary runs about three hours and is filled up with lots of clips of old shows dating back to early band rehearsals and footage from the bands very first show back in October 2000. The documentary also includes an impromptu acoustic version of ‘Forever Shine On’ with the original members, a nice treat for fans. There is some tour footage from Korea, Russia and other parts of Europe as well.
Disc Three is pretty cool. It is the full concert of the live album A LIVETIME IN EDEN originally released on CD in 2004 on Massacre Records. The show was recorded in Germany and a part of the concert (six songs) was released on DVD as a bonus disc on some versions as well. It is cool to have the entire show now on DVD for the true fans who want both audio and visual. The concert takes up most of Disc Three but there are about 15 more minutes of features. Most of them are just various candid moments of recording of and touring for the SHINE album. There is a nice live duet that Sabine does with Angra that is captured.
Disc Four is just a 90-minute concert and nothing else. It is a live show they did in Beijing on June of 2007. This is probably my least favourite disc, because of it’s simplicity. I’m not a fan of sitting watching a concert, not more than once or twice, but it was nice to see. The picture and sound are good, it is a multi-camera shoot, and it gives us a look at how popular the band is in Asia they have played many, many show in Korea, Taiwan and China.
For some reason there is virtually no mention of the album THE GRAND DESIGN. All of the other albums get mentioned a bit but not that one. That was the end of the Massacre Records era, so maybe there was some bad blood. Also it seems that the documentary just sort of ends early on Disc Three. It makes sense that the two original members (Kurt and Andreas) who were no longer in the band would not be featured anymore but it would have been nice to have some narration or something. Overall we get very little statistical data about the new members joining, people leaving and so forth, it could have been much more detailed, there have been at least 20 people in the band over the years, aside from the core of Sabine and Lanvall, but they never get mentioned.
Disc Five covers 2006-2008 focusing on the MYEARTHDREAM era of recording and touring cycle. It is a bit of a six of different parts, we get an Asian Tour diary which was the highlight for me, lots of offstage visiting and sighting in their stronghold of Asia. Up next was and extended segment of the orchestral recordings for MYEARTHDREAM. Which was probably a bit long than it needed to be. Then some extended footage of recording the drums, then it is back to Asia on tour! We get six songs from a festival in South Korea, interspliced with a few offstage antics. Then suddenly we cut over too Switzerland for four more live songs from a show in 2008.
Disc Six is one of the better discs in my opinion because it has bit more variety. Covering the years 210-2014 we get two Edenbridge videos one from SOLITAIRE and one from THE BONDING, which is very cool because until owning this, I had never seen an Edenbridge DVD on TV. There is a short ‘making’ of the video’ segment and some trailers for the albums. There is a brief radio interview in Indonesia on a press tour and there are a couple of TV commercials as well. The last half of Disc Six is a 45-minute concert from the Czech Republic back in 2014. It is a multi-camera shoot, in HD shot on a huge stage during the daytime. Lastly after nine hours (!) the DVD wraps up with some fan testimonials and lists of the various crowd-funding sponsors from around the world.
Ultimately as a documentary I must admit it had it’s short-comings. There is no shortage of material but it is not always organized or explained very well, at times it seems to jump around. There is very little personal information on the people in the band; their tastes, their education, background, relationships, etc, it is strictly focused on the band and the music. On the positive side there are tons of features and gain at none hours long you can’t claim that this is not a good value. It has videos, commercials, studio footage, backstage footage, tour footage and of course tons and tons of live concert footage. It never ceases to amaze me that Sabine sounds as good live as she does in the studio. In my final assessment, as an Edenbridge fan this is extremely well done and any fan would want it. For a causal fan, it is a lot of material, you have to be pretty committed to watch a six DVD documentary about a band…any band! As an in-depth 15th anniversary DVD, you could not ask for too much more.