Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Live Evil

I've been trying to come up with a good list of live albums worth your time. It's hard as so many bands seem to have the mic in their back pocket so it sounds like complete crap. Granted this is not definitive, in fact I hope to add to it as time goes on. The only criteria is that the recorded material has to have been live, whether in a studio or on a stage.

Here's a temporal list of some of the best live albums period. Tell me what yours are? And, for the most part, I stayed away from bands like Unholy Grave who seem to record just about anything.

Nasum - Doombringer
A real testament to the band's prowess and legacy, the posthumous live album recorded in 2004 in Oaska Japan and  released in 2008  might be Nasum at their finest. The untimely death of singer Mieszko became a focal point for the metal community, not only to mourn one of the most promising members of a grindcore band, but also the hundreds of thousands who died as the result of the Indian Ocean earthquake in December of 2004. It's hard to think of this as a live album as it has one of the fullest, and best production jobs the band has ever done. Maybe a bit enhanced in post production (we're talking Scott Hall here after all), Doombringer shows a varied, focused, and extremely potent Nasum playing some of their best material. Older, rawer tracks like "Lцpandebandsprincipen" never sounded better while more recent tracks such as "I Hate People" and "Doombringer" sound so much more powerful. Personal favorites "Corrosion," "This is...," and the obligatory jumpdafuckup of the discography "Inhale/Exhale" easily propel this to being not only one of the best live albums, but one of the best grindcore albums.

Destruction - Live Without Sense
 Destruction, possibly the most worthy of the Teutonic thrash acts, deliver not only their best release, but one of the best live albums in metal histography. Having heard this my expectations were set extremely high when I was on my way to see them some 3 years ago. All I can say is they were met. All the requirements are here "Curse the Gods," "Mad Butcher," "Bestial Invasion"(possibly the greatest metal riff ever written?), "Eternal Ban," and the amazing Glenn Miller outro "In the Mood" that's just badass. Well rounded production, no interference, intense crowd and Schimer's quintessential 80's thrash voice knock the figurative socks off anyone who appreciates thrash metal.

Misfits - Evil Live
Quintessential release for one of the best, and most influential punk bands ever, Evil Live features one of the best lineups and one of the best performances of the band, along with some of their best songs (some personal favorites are missing, but what can you do?). There's a hazy, tinny touch to the recording, especially in Gelnn's voice and Doyle's guitar, but that's just part of the charm for this  30 year old release. "Astro Zombies," "Horror Business," "Ghouls Night Out" and "We Are 138" with punk's most lovable actor/comic/poet/tv host/renaissance man ends it on a high note. The sloppiness of some of the performances only highlights the fun and enjoyment of the release.

Extreme Noise Terror - Peel Sessions
For a band with a seemingly endless amount of songs and variants of those songs, the Peel Sessions are a fortunate collection of Extreme Noise Terror at their best. The name John Peel should be recognizable as he was a huge force in getting handfuls of great bands recognition, not just in the U.K. but all over the world. That aside, for being a characteristically sloppy and all over the place band, E.N.T sound their best this time around as both the production and performance seem fitting for the band. Necessary tracks such as "Conned Through Life," "Work for Never," "Deceived," "Murder" and one of my favorite covers "I'm a Blood Fool" (Cockney Rejects) turn this album into a "best of."

Cradle of Filth - Live Bait for the Dead
To many, Cradle of Filth were the epitome of cliche mall metal and the death knell for contemporary black metal. While I'll never say I like the band's personality, antics, banter, or the majority of their catalog, Live Bait for the Dead, has been a favorite of mine since I first heard it. From the robust production, to the perfect set list, Cradle of Filth show why at one time the guys from Emperor liked them and how a loyal and devoted metal head like me could appreciate something so tongue in cheek. Simply put, it's the riffs. The band's affinity for Priest and Maiden is clear in their leads and riff work and the Dani does his best to be tolerable. Say what you will about this band, but much like melodramatic movies and books, Cradle of Filth have their worth.

Discordance Axis - Pikadourei
Sometimes grindcore becomes more about the energy than the music, and even rarer than that is when both the music and the energy are on par, or rather feed into each other. Pikadourei is a shinning example of a band playing their grinding hearts out and managing to do so with an amazing set list and precision. While some of the higher frequencies get muddied, and many riffs fall into abstract feedback, it adds to the controlled chaos DxAx always did so well. Having first seen this, rather than hear the cd, I have a different memory of this. The visual aspect is mostly shot and cut like a snuff film and edited in a confusing and psychotic way (seemingly so that Chang's posture jumps from standing to laying on the floor, from shirt wearing to shirtless, and beyond!) that fits right in with the band and their performance. While it doesn't compare with the likes of their proper releases, it's one of the most driven live performances recorded.

Sunn 0))) - Dømkirke
Drone's equivalent of P-Funk, Sunn 0))) bring together their friends Attila, Steve Moore, and Lasse Marhaug together for one of their most profound and enthralling releases. Recorded live in the Bergan Cathedral in Norway, which dates back to the 1600's (and previous incarnations to the 12th century), Dømkirke sounds like some awkward miscue as if Sunn 0))) and co. were allowed to perform Sunday mass for the crowd.The setting becomes part of the record, as anyone who has heard music in a church before knows it sounds like nothing else. Low organ notes hush a respectful crowd and Attila is given the spot light as he croons the crowd with his distinct bastardization of operatic vocals throughout "Why Dost Thou Hide Thyself in Clouds?" Subsequent tracks allow O'Malley and Anderson whip out the big guns as they do their best to hone the cold atmospheric sound of Norway's prodigal children. There's not much else to say about this except for that the beautiful church organs are probably the best things ever to happen to drone since Nadja re-recorded Bliss Torn from Emptiness.

Horna/Behexen Split
The catalyst for this list, Horna's split with Behexen ranks as my favorite release by both bands, but also in terms of live productions. Recorded live in studio, the split features both bands in their prime (in fact, this is the only thing Behexen has ever done that's worthwhile). That said, the one-take setting of the album shines through as drum sticks start songs and Corvus's vocals retain an unmatched dominance as they shriek and growl and sound completely possessed. An organic and simple production matched with Horna's best effort at song writing create their finest moment. On the other side, Behexen offer one amazing track ("Ritual of Flesh and Blood") and two mediocre, which means this is amazing by their standards. Melodically intertwined with the utmost vehemence and unholiness, Horna prove themselves to be absolute masters.

Honorable mentions go to my handful of bootleg Immortal live recordings (especially the one where Abbath tells everyone to shut up), Iron Lung/Pig Heart Transplant/Walls's Public Humiliation, the 4,000 jazz records I'd like to list but would involve way too much, and this....

Yeah I'm sure I forgot a lot... so let me know! What are your favorite live recordings?


Shanetera said...

I love that first live Misfits record. So good.
I also like the live Pantera album "101 Proof", anything live Black Sabbath, Napalm Death BBC. Man I can't think of any others right now.

Perpetual Strife said...

you know, that Pantera album ain't bad. I wish it was just a comp. of Phil's stage banter. Yes to black Sabbath and I forgot Motorhead's No Sleep 'til Hammersmith.

See how hard it is? A lot seem to be lifeless cash ins, or in the black metal world complete crap.

Shanetera said...

There are ALWAYS live bootlegs too!

Andrew Childers said...

second the napalm death bbc. i know people don't like mid-era napalm, but hearing the band without mitch harris (sick with the flu) just destroy "greed killing" live was astounding.

also, cmon no maiden live after death?

and i while i can appreciate doombrigner musically, it's always felt like a cheap cash in by relapse. it really annoys me the way they cut and paste a bunch of songs out of order to create a fake live experience.

Perpetual Strife said...

Very true about Doombringer. Coupled with Grind Finale it seems Relapse were doing their best to market the end of a band and death of a good guy.

For being a Maiden fan, having seen them live, and absolutely loving it I've never listened to their live cds =/

There is one live release I'd kill for but it seems impossible to find. Fleshpress- Season of Sludge, A Decade of Doom. Never been able to hear it =(

Andrew Childers said...

dude. duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuude.

yeah. live after death kills. it was my intro to maiden after years of ignoring them.

Shanetera said...

I agree, seeing Maiden then hearing them live is no comparison.

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