Sabaton – Swedish Empire Live Blu Ray Review

Sabaton – Swedish Empire Live Blu Ray

Swedish Empire Live is the first concert Blu Ray by the Swedish Power Metal band Sabaton.

The main show was shot at Poland’s Woodstock festival in 2012. The scale of the gig is pretty incredible. The audience is bigger than half-a-million people! In fact, during the show frontman Joakim postulates that if the audience were a city, it would be the 2nd-biggest city in Sweden. Naturally, when the crowd chant along with the band its pretty special.

The stage, screens, light-show and pyro are all suitably impressive to match the occasion. Its not a theatrical affair admittedly, but it is definitely visually impressive. There are plenty of fireworks on stage and a tasteful but grand lighting set up that help the concert to feel massive. When they float a gigantic flag out over thousands of audience members at one point it looks pretty incredible.

The band are not intimidated by the occasion, and fill the space well with big gestures, confident stage banter and excellent stage presence all around, you get a real sense of personality on display as they smile, joke or gratefully thank the crowd throughout. The new members Chris Rörland, Thobbe Englund and Robban Bäck all fit like a glove and act as if they’ve always been there. Longtime members Joakim Brodén and Par Sundström are absolutely commanding and really dominate the crowd, keeping their energy levels and enthusiasm sky high throughout the whole two-hour main feature (although that length includes credits and some brief interview footage before and after the fantastic uninterrupted main concert). Its so great to see the band having fun, being showmen and rocking out hard, all in one show. They really hammer the material and make the songs sound huge.

With a brilliant performance, a brilliant setting, an enthusiastic crowd and an expansive setlist, the only thing that could let this down would be the technical side of things. Luckily, the camera work, editing, sound recording and mixing are all flawless. I own a lot of concert films, and this is definitely one of the better ones that I have seen. The directing is tasteful, the cuts aren’t too quick, the sound is clear, bombastic and powerful, and without effort you instantly can hear everything you’d want at the level you’d want it at. Bottom line, it both looks and sounds great.

The main feature is available in PCM stereo or DTS HD Master Audio (which is 5.1) and you can choose English, German or polish subtitles, which comes in handy for the interviews.

If this release contained only the main feature and nothing else it would still be an absolute must-buy, but just to make it even better, its absolutely crammed full of extras. It is available in several different formats (Vinyl etc.), editions (Earbook with bonus CDs and DVDs) and through exclusivity deals (eg. Specific version exclusive to Amazon) but for the purposes of describing the extras and packaging, this review will concentrate on the normal Two-Disc Blu Ray version.

There’s a brief charity documentary, and then three addition live shows. The first is a 16-track mixture of material from Gothenburg, Oberhausen and London, and the second two are the Gothenburg and Oberhausen gigs in full, at 17 and 13 tracks respectively. If you want the full London gig, it is available on the more expansive editions.

There is a fair bit of crossover in the tracklists among these extra concerts, and they don’t have selectable sound options or as clear a picture as the main feature, but considering that they are extras, and that the band themselves are so good live, this isn’t too much of a problem. They are all still well made and enjoyable in their own right, and each are in different sized venues, have unique stage banter and track-orders, and fit the pyro and lighting rigs in different ways, so its pretty interesting to have these extras even just to play “spot the difference.” There are English subtitles available for all the bonus live shows.

The Two-Disc Blu Ray version comes in a DVD-sized Digipak case (as in its taller than a normal Blu Ray case) with a Card Slipcase over the top of that. It has a yellow spine and comes with a booklet containing credits, photos and linear notes.

Overall; This is an absolutely fantastic, expertly crafted product with lots to explore, and the main feature is absolutely stellar. I am highly impressed with it and I would highly recommend it not just to fans of the band, or even just fans of the genre, but to any fan of concert films. This is a master class in how to do it right.

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