Live collection hits the mark
Since their reformation in 2005, and their subsequent signing to Inside Out Music, Munich (Germany) based Sieges Even have enjoyed some modest success within the progressive rock scene with their last two full-length albums, 2005's The Art Of Navigating By The Stars and 2007's Paramount. But for all the high profile attention and the chance to reach heights previously out of reach (The band managed to release some five albums between 1988 and 1997, before splitting up), Sieges Even has decided to again call it a day.
But prior to going their separate ways, the four piece act (Comprising of vocalist Arno Menses, guitarist Markus Steffen, bassist Oliver Holzwarth and drummer Alex Holzwarth) have released one last recording for fans, with Playgrounds the band's first live album recorded during their tour in support of Paramount.
Given that Sieges Even has a career of two distinctly different eras, the set list that makes up the ten tracks on Playgrounds primarily focuses on their last two albums, with only These Empty Places and The Waking Hours coming from the band's 1991 album A Sense Of Change. The decision to focus on the latter half of their career is an understandable one, but still a little disappointing given that there's a lot of back catalogue material that would have been fascinating to hear translated with Menses fronting the band.
Besides the track listing, Playgrounds is still an interesting collection of live recordings (The songs have seemingly been taken from a variety of live shows through the band's 2007 tour), with the live versions sounding very much the same as they did on the band's studio efforts. The production does allow Holzwarth's rhythmic capabilities to stand out a little more, but otherwise there's not a real lot of change or improvisation from the originals.
The lack of interaction from the crowd is also a little disappointing to some extent (Which means that it could easily be mistaken for a live in the studio recording), but it doesn't take away from the fact that on tracks such as When Alpha And Omega Collide, Iconic, Duende and The Weight, Sieges Even prove themselves to be an amazing live band.
Playgrounds does have its drawbacks, and will most likely only appeal to diehard fans that have the band's other releases. But having said that, if you're a fan of the more melodic side of progressive rock, and have yet to discover what Sieges Even were capable of, then Playgrounds is the perfect introduction to the band's impressive body of work.
(Inside Out Music/Riot! Entertainment)