High On Fire - Live From The Contamination Festival review
|Band:||High On Fire|
|Album:||Live From The Contamination Festival|
01. Blood From Zion
02. To Cross The Bridge
04. Razor Hoof
06. Eyes And Teeth
07. Hung, Drawn And Quartered
08. Witching Hour [Venom cover]
High On Fire are one of those bands that play with such ferocity on their studio albums one cannot help but be curious as to what they sound like in a live environment (for those who have not seen them live in person). The result is a mix of some high-energy sludge metal, and occasionally a sonic mess that would be best left to the studio. This once elusive find, re-released in 2009 is a relatively early live recording, done shortly before the release of Blessed Black Wings, when the band's sound was far less refined and melodic. It's hard to picture early tracks being performed live simply because the early studio recordings have an almost live quality in themselves.
So how do these tracks transfer into a live sound? What changes? The most noticeable change is the guitars, taking on a far more "buzzy" tone. The second change being the inconsistency of the vocals - which isn't too much of a problem considering in most High On Fire recordings the vocals take a back seat to the riffs. Performance-wise this album supplies everything a live album should be about; energetic, well played, while at the same time a touch of sloppiness along with some altered solos that really do justice to High On Fire's raw, gritty music. Alas this is a live album, and unfortunately live albums depend on much more than a bands performance, even if the performance is incredible.
As great as it is, this is far from the perfect simulated live experience. The previously mentioned buzz-tone the guitars have may sound fresh and unique for the first few songs, but unfortunately by the end the whole band just sounds a bit thin in relativity to the deep wall of sound the band usually puts forth. The other main problem being not with the band, but the crowd....or lack thereof. It could have been a lousy turn out for the show that night, or it could have been the way it was recorded, but Live From Relapse Contamination Festival sounds like it could have just been a rehearsal recording with a dozen people standing around watching - the lack of stage banter doesn't help either. The rarely audible crowd really detracts from a necessary energy a live album should contain.
Overall I have mixed feelings toward Live From Relapse Contamination Festival, while the band performed a very satisfying set, the whole thing is sullied by weak production. This probably won't quench the thirst of any High On Fire fan waiting for a live album, but rather leave them wanting more after seeing the potential.
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| Doc Godin
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