Monday, September 17, 2012

Down - "Diary Of A Mad Band"

 When I hear the word "Supergroup" the absolute first thing that comes to my mind is NOLA's own Sabbath-worshipping, sludge masters : Down. Comprised of Pantera vocalist and bassist, Phillip H. Anselmo and Rex Brown, Corrosion of Conformity frontman Pepper Keenan, Crowbar frontman Kirk Windstein, and Eyehategod's Jimmy Bower on the drums, Down have finally unleashed their long-awaited live package titled "Diary Of A Mad Band". The 2 CD and 1 DVD release is a collection of live performances recorded during their 2006 European tour. I'm not really a huge fan of live recordings in general, but I do buy the live albums from my favorites, and I couldnt be happier with "Diary Of A Mad Band". If there is one thing I love about live performances, it's the spontaneity and the feel of the band in it's most raw of elements. Most "Bigger" bands will bring their live album into the recording studio and overdub alot. They will re-record guitar parts to fix screw-ups, they will re-record vocals to eliminate sour notes and fumbled lyrics, and most of all polish the thing so much that it sounds just like the studio recording with crowd noise thrown in(ex. Kiss "Alive", Ozzy Osbourne "Live and Loud", Slayer "Live Undead" ect.). "Diary Of A Mad Band" couldnt be any further from that, this live package keeps the raw live feel 100%. Sour notes, fumbled guitar solo's and lyrical screw up's are all present and accounted for. At times a guitar will be slightly out of tune, Phil may come in too early or late with a vocal line, and I wont even get into how the vocal harmonies in "Jail" make me cringe a bit, but that's the whole beauty of this live package. With "Diary..." Down are giving you a straight-up no frills, unpolished representation of the band in a live setting, if your gonna sit and be a stickler and pick out every fickle little piece of the performances that are wrong or out of tune, then just leave this on the shelf and go pick up a copy of the new Linkin Park album. If you wanna enjoy some real, exciting, raw sludge metal done right by the masters, and if you can appreciate knowing that, YES even the masters screw up once in a blue, then you definitely want to add "Diary Of A Mad Band" to your collection. If I could compare this to any other recording, it would be Black Sabbath's classic "Live At Last" album for sure. All of your favorites from the first 2 releases are presented here in live format, "Lifer", "Stone The Crow", "Ghosts Along The Mississippi", "The Seed", "Bury Me In Smoke", "Losing All" and "Lysergic Funeral Procession" are amongst the 16 songs on both audio disks and 17 songs on the DVD(The addition of "There's Something On My Side" is the only song separating the DVD from the CD's). The DVD is the true focal point here as Down have been promising to release it to the fans since 2006, and the quality is amazing, great footage and editing, and the music is raw just the same as the audio disks. Those of you looking for a DVD full of hilarity and assinine moments akin to the Pantera home videos may be a bit dissappointed as the "Diary..." DVD keeps it's focus on the music and live performance, dont get me wrong the dudes in Down are hilarious guys and there are a couple funny moments to be had, but this DVD is entirely about the music, and this reviewer couldnt be happier about that. Diary Of A Mad Band is a perfect representation of what Down is exactly all about, unbelievably heavy, punishing and thunderous at times, and yet not afraid to show their mellow side and throw a southern-fried ballad at you that could only be best described as a molotov cocktail made up of equal parts Lynyrd Skynyrd and Led Zeppelin. If your a Down fan, you should have this already, if your new to the band and have somehow never heard them before, I believe "Diary Of A Mad Band" would be a great starting point for you as it is in a sense a "Live Greatest Hits" of sorts. An amazing release by one of Metal's best bands of all time...this release hasnt left my CD and DVD players in weeks, and I promise it'll be just as addictive for you, so get off your arse and go get a copy of "Diary Of A Mad Band".