Sunday, December 2, 2001 @ 5:53 PM
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I tell ya, 2001 has turned out to be the year of the metal live album! Over the last eight months we have been graced by live albums by Halford, Black Label Society, Rose Tattoo, L.A. Guns, Dokken, Britny Fox, Ozzfest, Tattoo The Earth, and oh so many more. Not to mention recent live efforts from Motley Crue, Guns N' Roses, Black Crowes with Jimmy Page, W.A.S.P., Lita Ford, Metal Church, Dangerous Toys, and a zillion other acts. It's a veritable onslaught!!!
Well, for the most, this is a welcome trend in heavy music as most metal bands are pretty stripped down and straight ahead when it comes to the concert setting and a good live album can really show ya what a band is capable of. Many a superstar have staked their claim to fame via a live album (KISS, Peter Frampton, and Cheap Trick come to mind), yet for a long time in the '90s it seemed kinda unhip to release one, like you were over the hill or something. Well, in this day and age of computerized cut and past editing and pre-recorded DAT loops and drum beats, many performers have re-embraced the live album concept as a way to say to the world, "Hey, we're keeping it real." And Corrosion Of Conformity certainly proves that point on Live Volume in spades. Live Volume: The Movie is the DVD companion to this monster metal opus and lemmy tell ya, it’s a keeper!
COC have never been a band that shies away from volume, heaviness or getting all sweaty. They started as a hardcore punk band in the '80s and morphed into a metallic metal outfit throughout the '90s, dabbling into sludge rock and grunge along the way, before growing into the dynamic monster hard rock band they are today. The band's last album, America's Volume Dealer, was one of their finest to date and surely their most accessible, with traces of southern boogie blues and countrified honk creeping into the mix. Live Volume is taken from a Harpo's Theater gig in Detroit (a city always know as a breeding ground for killer live albums...MC5's Kick Out The Jams, anybody?) on April 20th on the tour to support this effort and the band sounds confident and power-hungry from the intro instrumental "These Shrouded Temples" on through the Thin Lizzy-sounding closing crowd pleaser "Clean My Wounds." The production is top notch, as good as any studio album the band have released. "Diablo Blvd." sounds especially menacing, with the funky liquid bass effect on the studio version replaced by crunchy distorted licks. The album demonstrates the band's ability to whip out riff-driven heavy metal tunes that also have a hip shakin' groove, such as "Senor Limpio," "Zippo," "Who's Got The Fire," and the awesome shoulda-been-a-huge-hit-single "Congratulations Song." They also slow things down a bit with the trippy bongo-driven ballad "Shelter" and the Robin Trower-esque blues jam "13 Angels 7 Days." Shit, there's even a brief bass solo on "My Grain" and dueling guitar leads on!!! Fuckin' Skynyrd would be proud.
But don't worry metalheads, for the most part this album stomps and pounds and bruises at every turn and COC's hardcore roots are all over the place. From the chugging metal punch of "King of The Rotten" to the Sabbathy romp of "Wiseblood," to the punishing doom of their breakthrough song "Vote With A Bullet," these underground vets are clearly in command of the crowd and deliver one banger after another with ease and authority. Like his bud James Hetfield, Pepper Keenan has developed into a helluva singer, with a gritty snarl serves him equally well on a slow grind blues number or a screaming for vengeance rockers. He and Woody Weatherman make for an unbeatable guitar duo, firing off riffs and complimentary melody lines like old pros, while bassist Mike Dean and drummer Jimmy Bower hold down the rhythm like a two ton battleship anchor (like, heavy, man).
As far as the DVD itself goes, some backstage footage and interviews serve as extras and are pretty cool for the hardcore fans but aren't exactally must-sees or anything. The camera work is slick, yet gritty and the effects are kept to a minimum – no MTV trick fakery here. No way! This is COC motherfucker, they keep it raw! It's all muscle and no fat here, folks. It looks good but it ain't all artsy-fartsy or anything, have no fear. COC prove they can pull off anything you hear on the records live and onstage with no producers or sequencers and samples to make it happen. Hell, most of these tunes sound even better live -- so there. I'd like to see one these pussy-ass boy bands try to get up in front of an angry mob of drunken, pissed heshers and slam dancing punkers and have 'em wrapped around their skinny little finger like a diamond studded wedding ring for 77 minutes straight. Kinda puts a new spin of the word "conformity."