Review: Live in L.A.
Magazine: Digital Metal / USA
Written by: Dan Woolley
Published: 2003

Death/Control Denied mastermind Chuck Schuldiner, often cited as the father of death metal, succumbed to cancer on December 13, 2001, a very dark day in metaldom. What he leaves behind on this mortal coil is staggering, though: seven blindingly technical studio albums that have succinctly defined the genre and (most of which) have stood head-and-shoulders above the growling death-metal hordes - not to forget putting the "death" in death metal by reserving the Death moniker before anyone else.

While covering mostly newer material (half the tracks are taken from '95's Symbolic and '98's Sound Of Perseverance), Live In L.A. does give some spotty credence to Death's back catalog (two tracks each from '91's Human and '93's Individual Thought Patterns, and one each from '87's Scream Bloody Gore and '88's Leprosy). Brilliant takes on "Flesh And The Power It Holds" and "Scavenger Of Human Sorrow" (both from The Sound Of Perseverance) are numbingly grand thrash, with bassist Scott Clendenin and guitarist Shannon Hamm trading licks like Slayer/Sadus of yore, while "Empty Words" (from Symbolic) gets an Iron Maiden-meets-Cynic fretboard treatment. Schuldiner even tacks on a metal Charlie's Angels theme-song intro to live staple "Pull The Plug." The sound quality is crystal (mountain)-clear, but Richard Christy's incredible drums are too up front in the mix, which tends to drown out every other instrument: the newer "Spirit Crusher" is the best example of this misfortune. (Methinks that NBA scrambled to get a live Death recording released when they first heard about his cancer, hence the poor production - which could explain the "Raw" subtitle.) Ironically, Schuldiner's own comments to the crowd about having to cut the set short by a couple of songs near the end may explain the omission of anything from '90's Spiritual Healing album.

Still, Live In L.A. is a worthy addition to the Death canon, even if it's simply to hear Schuldiner with arguably the band's best line-up stretching out in a live setting and attempting to nail all their studio wizardry onstage. Do they succeed? You be the judge.


to views

Edited for Empty©Words 03-18-05