Label : Drakkar Records

Review by Tony Cannella

The German band Xandria have -to date – released four studio albums that are very well regarded in the metal community. Now they have released a compilation/best of CD. “Now & Forever” features some of Xandria‘s best moments, but also so much more. The packaging includes a 20-song audio disc that features 70-minutes worth of some great music. The other part of the package is a DVD that includes: live material, interviews, video clips… the works – and it all comes in a beautiful gate book digi pack. A lot of care went into compiling the material for this collection and it really shows.  Appropriately the song “Now & Forever” kicks things off and is the first of five songs from the bands 2005 CD “India” and it is a great way to start. “Ravenheart” is next and it is taken from the album of the same name. “Kill The Sun” follows that up and the strength of the material becomes quite apparent. “In Love With Darkness” is a great mid-tempo track with a fantastic vocal performance by Lisa Middlehauve. This is definitely one of the best tracks this collection has to offer. This CD is packed to the brim with so much great music and the songs are taken pretty evenly from each one of their four CDs. Xandria is symphonic metal at it’s best. Even though the songs range from 3-5 minutes in length, they have a big epic feel to them, thanks to the inclusion of the symphonic elements. Other highlights include: “Eversleeping”, “Only For The Stars In Your Eyes”, “The Lioness”, “India”, “Sisters Of The Light” and “Save My Life”. The material is pretty strong and consistent throughout. A trio of rare and unreleased tracks (“Drown In Me”, “One Word” and “Lullaby”) bring the CD part of this collection to a close. Based on the strength of the material, it is beyond me why Xandria never rose to a greater level of success. Now on to the DVD…

The DVD part of this set is quite a good companion piece. This DVD features almost 2-hours of footage, including the band tearing it up live at the 2007 Summer Breeze festival in Germany. 8-songs are shown being performed live here including favorites: “Now & Forever”, “Firestorm”, “The End Of Every Story”, “Ravenheart” and “India”. The band certainly looks comfortable on stage and seem to be having a good time. On a personal note, it is very cool to see the band in a live setting for those of us who never have gotten the chance to see them live. Mixed in with the live footage are some insightful interviews with every one of the band members talking about the past, present and future of Xandria – of course that future is now without Lisa Middlehauve. The interviews are in German, but there is an English sub titles option for us non-German speaking folks. The band certainly comes across as down-to-earth and articulate in the interviews. In addition to all of that, you also get some behind the scenes footage and video clips of the songs “Ravenheart”, “Save My Life” and “Eversleeping”.

Since the release of this collection the band have made a very crucial line-up change. Out is Singer Lisa Middlehauve and she is replaced by Kerstin Bischof. We will have to wait and see until their next release to find out if this line-up change will be a success for Xandria, but one thing is for certain, Kerstin Bischof is going to some big shoes to fill. This is a great release for fans who are looking to get into the bands catalog but don’t know where to start and for the die-hard fans, the inclusion of the unreleased tracks and the bonus DVD make this an essential release for any fan of Xandria.

Rating – 90/100

 

Tracklist

  1. Now & Forever
  2. Ravenheart
  3. Kill the Sun
  4. In Love with the Darkness
  5. Eversleeping
  6. Only for the Stars in Your Eyes
  7. The End of Every Story
  8. The Lioness
  9. India
  10. Save My Life
  11. Ginger
  12. Firestorm
  13. Some Like It Cold
  14. Black Flame
  15. Like a Rose on the Grave of Love
  16. Sister of the Light
  17. Mermaids
  18. Drown in Me (rare Bouns Track)
  19. One Word (Previously Unreleased Bonus Track)
  20. Lullaby (Rare Bonus Track)

 

DVD Contents

  • Summer Breeze Concert 2007
  • Interviews
  • Behind the Scenes
  • All Videoclips


Line Up

  • Lisa Schaphaus – Middlehauve – Vocals
  • Marco Heubaum –Guitars
  • Philip Restmeier – Guitar 
  • Nils Middlehauve – Bass 
  • Gerit Lamm – Drums  

 

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