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The definition of uselessness - 60%

Sean16, April 26th, 2006

The maybe most popular doom metal band had to record a live album, like every popular band, you think. It is usually a good way to earn some easy money without excessive pain, so actually My Dying Bride would have been quite stupid not to try it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to bash MDB because they are a popular band, actually they still rank amongst my favourite acts, no matter the size of the audience they reach. I’m just stating this live album is the standard commercial product only the completist will find some interest in.

Of course the songs are great. Well, it’s My Dying Bride, so what did you expect? The setlist has indeed the good taste to cover the band’s whole career, from the more death-metal-ish debuts with Symphonaire Infernus... to songs from their last album (at that time) The Light at the End of the World, without forgetting such classics as Turn Loose the Swans or Your River. They even picked with Under Your Wings and Into Your Arms one of the two decent songs of the avant-garde album 34.788%... Complete. Of course everyone has his own favourites, and I personally would have liked to hear the beautiful and not-so-well-known Two Winters Only instead of the boring and overrated The Snow in my Hand, but these are minor complaints.

No, the problem is all these tracks sound outrageously close to the albums versions, with one exception. That She is the Dark and The Fever Sea are carbon copy from their The Light at the End of the World versions, that could be understood as those were brand new songs at that time, but don’t tell me that they couldn’t have added some nice improvements to such a well-known song as Your River, the kind of improvements that does the charm of live songs! Believe me, I just listened to the original version (on the Turn Loose the Swans album) right after, they almost sound THE SAME, and the slight difference is the raspier sound of the original song. And the same goes for almost every other track, with the exception of a faster version of A Cruel Taste of Winter they played as a teaser from their then forthcoming album The Dreadful Hours. Needless to say I prefer the far more majestic and depressive album version.

Worst of all, it doesn’t sound like a live album. At all. You may just notice the crowd’s presence between the songs, apart from that it stands absolutely quiet, and the album would have been recorded in a studio you wouldn’t have noticed the difference. The sound is perfectly clear and clean, and I wonder to what extent it has been improved in the studio right after. Come on, it HAS to have been. The interaction between the band and the audience is also minimal, Aaron only announcing each time the title of the forthcoming song in a rather atonal voice, and thanking the crowd – for its calm and silent respect, I guess – at the end of each one. Well, Type O Negative’s fake live album (The Origin of the Feces, for those who know) sounds far more “live” than that.

The only good point I see is they played The Cry of Mankind, which in its original version is one of the greatest melodic doom song ever, but is butchered by five minutes of stupid noise at the end. In the live version of course the band removed the noisy part, what makes the song almost perfect. However it’s still less expensive to listen to the original song and press the skip button around 8:00, and personally it’s what I’ll keep on doing.

Oh, and if you want to hear My Dying Bride live, just get the short Live at the Dynamo’95 EP. It bears only three songs, but at least it sounds LIVE. This one still scores at a decent 60% because of the incredible quality of the songwriting only.

Perfected Imperfection - 90%

Symphony_Of_Terror, March 25th, 2004

I like how on this live album My Dying Bride wasn't afraid to not play their songs perfectly, but also not let the live atmosphere distort the origonal studio songs to much. The band manages to play their songs with emotion and offer something up thats a bit different than the album songs, but still stick true to them. Its a nice combination of live imperfection and studio perfection. The songs manage to give you that live energy/intesnity, but they don't play to the point of being sloppy and not letting you enjoy the technical music aspects of the songs. While offering the live intensity, the band still plays the music well enough to enjoy how it was origonally written. This is quite a good thing since you can enjoy the live presence of the band how they play without the help of the studio...but also you can enjoy the songs themselves, the band plays them so well and the quality is so great that the riffs or the bass lines don't get lost in the live atmosphere of imperfection.

Top live tracks here:
She Is The Dark
A Cruel Taste Of Winter
A Kiss to Remember
Symphonaire Infernus Et Spera Empyrium

If your like me and enjoy live albums of bands that you like, then this is for you. The band has perefected the art of playing live, or at least on this live record. That is they have perfected playing imperfectly. Some bands can't reproduce what they have 30 takes in a studio live and end up just slaughtering their songs, like Blind Guardian ( I base that on when I saw them live, not their live records). Some bands play to well, to the point of perfection, where the songs on the live album are so similiar to the songs on the studio album that its not worth own (like Pain of Salvations 12:5). This album combines the greatness of the songs, with live imperfection and energy making one great experience. The tracks on this album definalty offer something different than on their respective studio albums they are found on. I would give this a 100 if the rest of the tracks could reach as high as a point as the 4 I mentions before.