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Sorry, but it doesn’t even warm up - 45%

Kalelfromkrypton, April 14th, 2010

So here we’ve got the one and only Barren Cross full concert ever recorded. Being that they had only 2 albums by the time this was put out, it was a risky movement but since ‘Atomic Arena’ album was a success, even though the band was utterly underrated, it was decided to record a live album.

The obvious opener is ‘Imaginary Music’ with its Maiden-esque riffing style and good mix of keyboards without overshadowing the power of the guitars and drums, and this is not to mention the obvious Dickinson-esque vocals of Mike Lee. This is indeed a good live rendering of the original song.

The problems begin just here. One: since they have only one guitar player I seriously doubt this sounds like Judas Priest since they were the creators of the dual guitar style. Two: the overuse of the keyboards sucks. It takes away all the heaviness of the songs.

Ray Parris was not a bad guitar player. In fact, his riffs are very crunchy and metallic, but definitely the lack of a rhythm guitar in the back seriously affects the power of the songs. Jim LaVerde was a very funky bass player and he does a good job. The drums were not bad either but to me (as I think of Robert Sweet) were more a show off and clumsy demonstration of stunts more than providing a serious kick ass drumming session. They were more rhythm followers than creative driving forces adding spice to the base rhythm sections.

The next problem is with the atrocious keyboards. I have nothing against keyboard players. The problem I have is with sugar coating heavy metal songs with keyboards that take away the punch. In this case that sadly happens a lot and that is why they certainly back away a lot of what could’ve been otherwise killer albums.

There are 6 songs from ‘Rock for the King’, 6 from ‘Atomic Arena’, and 2 fun jams (one of them a boring keyboard driven solo on ‘Opus to the third heaven’). The set is actually interesting since it has a good balance of social songs dealing with drugs, abortion, war and a good amount of songs that we can say are very religious but not preachy.

The rendering of the songs is quite good comparing them to the studio versions but still they lack punch and power due to the second rhythm guitars. The production does not help either. On this point, perhaps because I am comparing to such standards Dream Theater, Iron Maiden, Metallica and some others whose productions are crystal clear or next to perfection this albums drags with a really bad sound.
Thus, this is an album you can live without. This is only for die-hard fans of the band that need the absolute collection. As for me, I don’t have any of their catalog anymore because of the annoying keyboards. Other than that, it is a really bad concert with only two albums under the banner so perhaps today a more interesting set list could be performed.