Urrrgh, the live album. Something that I never got on with, and is the endless source of debate between one of my best friends after a couple of beers and getting belligerent due to the many years that we’ve both been into heavy metal (and both being highly opinionated). He says that a live album demonstrates a perfect example of whether a band can cut it in the live setting, and a well recorded live album clearly demonstrates a bands worth. To me, a live album is a frustrating experience for many varied reasons. For example, the acoustics in the venue they played may completely ruin the recording and the mastering of such albums is extremely variable in quality; be they bootleg vinyl/tapes or otherwise. Such things offend my ‘Hi-Fi Nerd’ sensibilities.
Also, I feel that a live album is only of relevance as a memento to a gig – as demonstrated when Pearl Jam released official live recordings of the venues that they played at a few years ago. It’s a different matter if it’s a DVD/Blu-Ray/Video, then you have the full sensory output instead of just the audio alone. Alas, some recordings also make me feel jealous of missing a gig due to such circumstances like geography and lack of funds getting in the way – a perfect case in point is Death‘s ‘Live in LA’ DVD which is excellent, but also makes me feel sad as it was one of the last recorded documentations of Chuck Schuldiner and his merry men playing a stormer of a gig.
Upon the first spin of Morgoth‘s live album “Cursed To Live,” I felt as if I was given the short straw – ‘The Punisher’ if you will; like a Sales and Marketing Rep that gets given the rickety dog eared Citroen Xantia and gets his VW Passat taken from him due to not meeting sales targets. However, I gave it the benefit of the doubt and ploughed on regardless with the task of this review.
For those not in the know, metal heads of a certain age will remember Morgoth from the early 1990s and will invariably have the “Cursed” and “Odium” albums in the dustiest corners of their album collection, usually filed with the likes of forgotten bands from a similar era like Nocturnus, Cynic, and Nailbomb in my case. However, it appears that Morgoth have joined the ranks of bands such as Forbidden, Pestilence, At The Gates and Carcass (to name a few) in ‘The Great Resurrection’; deciding to resurface for various tours, maybe even indulging in some studio time and making an album after all these years. These, are all good things in my book.
Incredibly, for once, this is an excellent live album that isn’t a crummy filling stop gap between studio albums just to let the fans know that they’re very much alive. Recorded during the ‘Way Of Darkness’ festival in 2011, Morgoth sound positively feral on this live album – like a tornado that’s blitzed through a glass factory and made a bee line for the Nitroglycerin plant. ‘Body Count’ kicks off from the intro track ‘Cursed’ and is immediately catchy; a fantastic execution in highly efficient German death/thrash metal brutality as demonstrated by other acts such as Sodom and Kreator that immediately has the listener thrashing around the room, air guitaring, doing ‘the face’ – and sounding even better than how I remembered it over 15 years ago. ‘Exit to Temptation’ starts with that memorable slow groove and tearing off into a glorious rifforama that sounds like Slayer had ingested massive amounts of crack.
One thing for certain, is that despite being in the wilderness since the late 1990s it has definitely had no effect on Morgoth or tamed how they sound. This live album basically centres around the “Cursed To Live”and “Odium” albums; throwing a couple of tracks from their EP’s for good measure, picking a decent mix between both. Which conveniently skips around the bloody awful mess that was “Feel Sorry For The Fanatic,” and works far better than the “Best of Morgoth” compilation ever did. ‘The Travel’ from the “Resolution Absurd” EP sounds suitably excellent, like an aural equivalent of a carpet bombing Panzer tank, with the same level of ferocity demonstrated on ‘Resistance’.
To conclude, the whole thing is an absolutely joyous blast from end to end. The only thing I wish to improve this, is to have gone back in time via a DeLorean and attended this gig. Alas, despite comprehensive scientific research the notion of time travel is all but a distant pipe dream. But, if they ever did, one trip would be to check out this particular gig, as they sounded like they played as if there wasn’t going to be a tomorrow.
The only way around it, is for them to play the UK. I’d be the first in the queue if they ever did, on the basis of this album. I know that much.