This is a high quality live album from Ancient Rites, its only real failing being that it drastically favours their most recent material from 'Dim Carcosa' at the expense of the band's previous three studio albums. 'Dim Carcosa' was a strong album that showcased a newer Ancient Rites, but not one that integrated too well with their earlier, harsher sound; thus, we have eight of that album's eleven songs performed here - excellent, sweeping, majestic Viking metal with power metal overtones with clean vocals and high guitars - occasionally interrupted by the jarring contrast of an old-school black metal song.
Once the listener gets past this obstacle, if indeed it is an obstacle rather than a bonus, this is a very enjoyable live performance from a tight band with great material, and it's always impressive when a band feels confident enough in its most recent studio material to play almost the entire album on tour rather than a few select morsels. It's a shame that more material from their excellent 'Fatherland' album couldn't be included in the set, particularly as this was recorded for both a CD and DVD release and really should have had that little extra effort put in to please fans both old and new, but we get three of the best from that album in the form of tracks five, fourteen and sixteen. The less impressive but still nicely heavy 'Blasfemia Eternal' is represented by tracks four, eight and twelve, while fans of the enjoyable old-school black metal of 'The Diabolic Serenades' are offered the skimpier selection of tracks nine and fifteen. The rest is all from 'Dim Carcosa,' and stands out quite obviously as a result.
The sound quality is excellent here, though in the same style as 'Dim Carcosa' which means less raw and powerful guitars and a strong focus on melody and the keyboards, and the band's performance is impressive and flawless. The decision to record a show in their country of origin Belgium is a nice touch, and audience interaction and banter from frontman Günther Theys are what would be expected from an official live release, which means not much at all. Probably my favourite thing about this album is the addictive, hard rocking chorus of 'Aris' in which Günther, thanks to his accent, sounds like he's shouting "Arse, arse shone! My arse, my arse rose!" The rest of the lyrics make for a nice concoction of pleasant and emotive cultural remembrance and shock value blasphemy.
1. The Return
2. Exile (Les Litanies de Satan)
3. Victory or Valhalla (Last Man Standing)
4. Total Misanthropia
6. ...and the Horns Called for War
7. North Sea
8. Blood of Christ (Mohammed Wept)
9. Longing for the Ancient Kingdom
10. Götterdämmerung (Twilight of the Gods)
11. (Ode to Ancient) Europa
12. (Het Verdronken Land van) Saeftinge
13. On Golden Fields (De Leeuwen Dansen)
14. Mother Europe
15. Evil Prevails
Track Listings: 1.Intro / 2. Exile / 3. Victory / 4. Total Misantropia / 5. Aris / 6. And The Horns / 7. North Sea / 8. Blood Of Christ / 9. Longing For... / 10. Gotterdammerung / 11. Ode To Ancient Europa / 12. Saefthinge / 13. On Golden Fields / 14. Mother Europe / 15. Evil Prevails / 16. Fatherland