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Mechanical music, decrepit vocals. - 49%

hells_unicorn, July 13th, 2008

When it comes to most live albums, I treat them in the manner that one would a college course taken pass/fail, in that they either fail or they pass and I often find myself unable to give them a really glowing recommendation. A few artists in the older guard of metal prided themselves on their lives shows because it was when they’d really show their skills as entertainers. The audio format is the least conducive to this art form because more than half of the concert experience is visual, and barring some extremely interesting musical elaboration or ad lib not found on the pre-existing versions of a song, there is little to grab onto aside from the obvious flaws that come from a single take performance with an audience to distract the performers.

This applies very much to Cryptopsy’s “None so live” in that it would likely be a treat to behold exactly what Flo Mounier and Jon Levansseur look like pulling off these ridiculously complex parts. But within the confines of the audio medium, we are left with this reinterpretation of older and recent material, and the results are not anything to write home about. Though in terms of accuracy on the part of the whole outfit, this performance is flawless, but the sort of perfection that manifests from the 100% faithful live production of complex riffs, flashy bass lines, virtuoso drumming, and inspiring guitar solo work is a bit dull and uninteresting.

The entire listen mostly resembles the mechanical atmosphere that a computer midi reproduction of these songs would give you with a very realistic synthesizer plug-in. It all goes through the motions, very safe and unadventurous, not daring to add anything new to the music, and relying mostly on songs that uniformly display the band’s ability to play fast. Much of the slower songs or less technical material from the earliest album is absent, while “None So Vile” dominates the set list and the selections from the two DiSalvo albums listen the most similar to the NSV album. Apart from a very impressive 7 minute plus drum solo by Flo, which is the highlight of the performance, everything sounds flat and devoid of contrast.

The hack vocalist Martin Lacroix is the only element here that doesn’t sound cybernetic, but unfortunately also proves to be the weakest part of the outfit. The man has zero stage presence, based mostly on his inability to interact with the audience at all. You might as well have the vocals on the songs pre-recorded and have this guy walk out on stage between songs to say maybe a couple short words before leaving and the next song starting up. His vocal character mostly resembles DiSalvo, but with about half as much punch and versatility. I absolutely hated DeSalvo’s crappy percussive grindcore vocal style, and this listens like a less competent version of that with a few lame attempts at trying to recapture Lord Worm’s sound, which are only really noticeable because the songs came from albums that he originally sang on.

People hearing this album before the studio material would likely be impressed with the instrumental work, but you’re better off going back to the original sources of the songs. There is a noticeable style difference between debut album classics like “Defenestration” and “Open Face Surgeory”, which are compiled by clearly decipherable riffs, and “Slit your guts” and “Cold Hate, Warm Blood”, which while competently executed live examples of the band’s musical versatility, are also extremely difficult to grab onto and remember, let alone gain any lasting enjoyment from. There are maybe a few technical sections here and there to keep it interesting while it’s going on, and then basically nothing.

For what this album is, which is an unorganized collection of songs from albums that bear little resemblance to each other, it is not poorly realized. It’s just that half of these songs are not terribly interesting to begin with. You’re better off getting the DVD that came later where they actually got Lord Worm back and played more of the classics from the early days. I’d place it in the higher tiers of the failure side of my pass/fail mode of judging live albums. Not something to crush in your fist in the name of true metal, but likely something that will collect dust on your shelf after about 2 or 3 listens.