Dying Alive (CD/DVD)
Nuclear Blast Records/Riot! Entertainment
Reviewed By Simon Milburn
Totally alive and in your face
I really like a good live release. I do like have these combo releases were you get the visual component on one medium and the audio on another so you can enjoy the live experience in your home or on your favourite portable device. So when long standing German thrashers Kreator announced a new live release coming out in that multi format and given how strong their recent releases have been, I was definitely keen to hear and see the new material in the live environment given it’s been a few years since they hit our fine shores.
When it comes to live concert DVDs or nowadays BluRay releases and the era of surround sound in your home, it has to not only look great and capture the energy of the performance, but it must also envelope you in it. For me, I need to feel as though I’m in the audience visually and more so aurally. When it comes to special shows, with unique setlists or locations or home town shows, expectations are set even higher. Rightly or wrongly so, that’s what I look for when it comes to reviewing these things. On 22 December 2012, Kreator wrapped up an extensive 45 date European tour with a sell out performance to their hometown crowd in Oberhausen, Germany. Twenty-four cameras in the crowd, on stage, under the stage, on the drum kit and even on the guitar strap were setup to capture every sweaty intense minute of Kreator live.
Now, I’m really fussy when it comes to live DVDs. Probably fussier than when it comes to seeing a live show in person really. Why? Because with countless cameras recording every little bit of a show and plenty of time to review the footage and assemble the final product well after the time it was recorded, I believe that there’s no room for sloppiness such as audio and video queues or timing not matching or in some cases – and I’m looking at you specifically Metallica – band members effortlessly changing guitars more than once in the space of a single song without missing a note.
As chaotic and energetic as the visual presentation of Dying Alive, there’s quite a number of timing issues through out. For example, Mille Petrozza’s singing isn’t quite lined up with the footage of him barking into the mic and worse still, Ventor’s flawless drumming doesn’t quite match the drum and cymbal hits. These aren’t major issues but for me they do detract from the overall feel of a live concert. The only other criticism I have is the use of an effect throughout to give the visual component an “old film” speckled effect. Now any kind of effect can be used tastefully but over a two hour show, it’s a bit irritating by the end of things. Now these couple of things are minor in the grand scheme of things. Overall the visual component of Dying Alive matches the intensity that I’ve experienced when watching Kreator live.
What really gives this live album a massive boost is the amazingly huge and enveloping sound on both the DVD (or BluRay) and the CD. I’ve heard a lot of live albums but this is something else. From rumbling bass and thundering drums, to barking vocals and cutting guitar tones, this incredible mix is something to behold. Put this through a surround sound system and the only thing that is missing is a few more people to mosh with. It sounds absolutely fucking incredible. If you pump the DTS or Dolby Digital soundtrack or the CD itself through a good surround sound system, it really feels like you’re in the middle of this fantastic show. All the crowd favourites are there – Enemy of God, Hordes of Chaos, Phantom Antichrist, People of the Life, Extreme Aggression, Pleasure to Kill and Flag of Hate. Thankfully the video component is unedited in that all of Petrozza’s between song comments are intact (albeit in German but you can put the subtitles on if you really want to know what he’s saying). However, the CD has been cut down and has had that component removed. The two CD set does come with five extra tracks that are not featured on the live performance video.
There’s the obligatory behind the scenes on the road with Kreator thing, a couple of video clips and a behind the scenes of one of the video clips but really, they are kinda nice to see once but they are clearly not the meat ‘n’ potatoes of this release.
As much as those pain in the ass visual issues do detract a little from the visual part of this release, the audio side more than makes up for things. I cannot recall spinning a live album so many times since I got it. Dying Alive is just about everything I want in a live release. It sounds immense and when cranked up to 11, it just rips. Kreator fans, this is absolutely essential.