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Back when Death was live. (Part 1) - 68%

hells_unicorn, December 30th, 2011

At times I am disgusted at the notion of milking a particular era of a band either for monetary gain or something else, not because of the prize being sought by the company, but because the results are almost always sub-par. And when separating the obviously charitable concept of buying an album to help save the artist's life, one might initially look at the 2 live releases that commenced in 2001 with a strong amount of skepticism, given they were both taken from the same tour, the same line up, and both contained radically similar set lists. There is, however, another angel that presents itself here that maybe argues that Nuclear Blast Records, in addition to having a benevolent side to them, also fully understood Death's audience.

Considering that Death is a band renowned for having very committed and avid fans, ones that were probably frequenting every record distribution outlet for the latest bootleg of a given tour/era, having 2 live albums from the same era would actually be quite appealing. Naturally this terminates on whether the era is one that appeals to the fan base, and many view the "The Sound Of Perseverance" era of Death as the weakest and merely an extension of Chuck's soon to be born power/progressive project Control Denied. With it comes the same high-pitched shouts that are perhaps more indicative of a melodic death metal outfit, and a similarly high end guitar sound that accents flash and speed over heaviness.

Ultimately, this album terminates on how well one likes the material Death put out either on or after "Human", as all but one song on here comes from said era. In terms of technical performance, this line up of musicians is well suited for exploiting the progressive elements of these songs, making for a very good rendition of "The Philosopher" and "Together As One", 2 of the more catchy songs on here, and also treating us to a fairly different vocal interpretation that avoids the lower, guttural shouts. The closing rendition of "Pull The Plug" is the only song on here that is robbed to any extent from the higher character of the arrangement, but even then the song still manages to be energetic and well put together.

Purely on the merits, matching the enthusiasm of the performance (which is very high) to the production quality and interpretation, this comes out to be an even, albeit fairly average live album. No notes are missed, no beats skipped, nor is any scream botched, but at the same time the faint bass and the fairly mechanical feel of the performance and Chuck's overly humble interaction with the audience leaves this thing wanting. Sure, there is such a thing as over-doing crowd rallying, but Chuck comes off as slightly Kurt Cobain-like in his awkward avoidance of giving the fans the obligatory "hell yeah" that generally makes thrash metal concerts a treat, even when it's Metallica. Nevertheless, this could be picked up from a discount bin and be reasonably enjoyable, though the absence of the good cause it originally stood for makes it slightly less than essential.

Is there an echo in this chamber? - 48%

autothrall, May 24th, 2011

Live in Eindhoven was released only a few weeks after Live in L.A. (Death & Raw), so presumably this was also used to generate some funds for Chuck's ongoing struggle with cancer. There is a DVD for this also (I believe one for its predecessor too), so I will immediately recommend that everyone interested just focus in on that and skip the audio only release, since there is just not much value to it coming so close after the other release. Still, if you were all for funneling the money to the ailing musical legend, it would be something purchased sight unseen strictly for the assistance it was providing. Hell, even if Nuclear Blast wasn't giving him a large share of the proceeds, he was at least getting the usual percentage and royalties, right?

The problem is that this Dynamo Open Air gig has the same lineup and same general track list as found on Live in L.A. (Death & Raw). The difference is that "Lack of Comprehension" and "Flattening of Emotions" have been included, and the following removed for the shorter set: "Zombie Ritual", "Scavenger of Human Sorrow", "Empty Words", and the title track from Symbolic. It's not much of a better set, though they fuck around with the finale "Pull the Plug" less than the other live album, and I felt that the sound quality here was evenly balanced, if still pretty raw and lacking. The vocals are a tad less grating, the guitars and drums better mixed, and I can hear the bass lines better even when the dual axes are sounding off. In all, I felt a fraction of more potent excitement than I did listening through the other, but I have to question its overall use when we'd just been bombarded with such a similar product.

What would have been excellent would have been if the band and labels had dug through the band's history and given us a CLASSIC live album from the Ultimate Revenge 2 years, or an earlier tour. Surely there were a wealth of bootlegs and soundboard recordings to cull from? Now that would have been something, offering the fans two choices: a modern lineup and an old school rendering. I would have plunked the money down on that instantaneously, and I'm sure others would have appreciated the same. In the end though, this is just another release you're going to snatch up to support the artist as opposed to expecting much throughput of the content, and in this case it's safer just to grab the DVD so you're getting the video component.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com

Alive in Death - 39%

MacMoney, December 23rd, 2005

One of a pair of live CD/DVDs released to alleviate Chuck's money problems due to his cancer. A live album certainly was warranted after seven commercially succesful releases but two, with the same line-up and an almost identical setlist? I personally would've wanted to hear some older live material with varied sets and a different line-up. One aspect that I also sorely missed on Live in Eindhoven - and on Death & Raw too for that matter - is Chuck's death vocals. The vocals are the same kind, albeit rawer, as heard on, The Sound of Perseverance i.e. very high compared to what he used on say Leprosy or Human. The instruments too sound like they are mixed higher than usual and perhaps more digital than would be preferable.

Concentrating on the instrumentalists performances, Scott Clendenin is consistently decent. Nothing remarkable but his technical prowess is noteworthy. Shannon Hamm's feats aren't up to his predecessors. His guitaring on the songs from Symbolic and The Sound of Perseverance are good but when he tries to play Larocque's or Malone's parts he just falls flat in his face. Richard Christy performs similarly with Hamm. He does well on Symbolic and TSOP-songs but the drum parts on Human and Individual Thought Patterns songs are remarkably duller.

These facts combined make the listening of this album a cringe-worthy effort. The new production and lacking performance leaves the best part of the album a travesty. Later Death albums are such finesse works that they require more optimal working environment than this. The songs from Symbolic and The Sound of Perseverance work better due to Chuck's and the band's recent acquaintance with them and the albums' presence being closer to the sound of the band on this release. Only persons fond of latter era Death should perceive the requisite to procure.