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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.