Monday, March 7, 2011

Darkness - Bocholt Live Squad (2005)

Germans Darkness really only released a single good album in 1987's Death Squad, and even that was nothing particularly special. But, nostalgia for 80s thrash metal at its highest since its original period of existence, it's not a stretch to imagine how something akin to Bocholt Live Squad could garner a following in the 21st century. Other second tier speed/thrash acts like Iron Angel were producing rare live material, so why not this one? Thankfully, the material performed here in this 1987 set is confined strictly to the debut album and their previous demos. The mediocre Defenders of Justice and Conclusion and Revival full-lengths were as of yet not ill-conceived, so they are unable to cock up this experience.

That said, the actual audio manages to cock it up regardless. Brash and fuzzy distortion can often make it difficult to make out the walls of notes on Death Squad fare like "Critical Threshold", "Death Squad" or the instrumental "Tarsman of Ghor". The bass is present but low in the mix, the drums are tinny if solid, and the vocals of Oliver Fernickel sound sadly weak, as if he's drunk and barking them and eschewing what little character he had on the studio incarnation. About the only thing you can hear clearly are some of the faster melodies or the cutting of the lead guitar, and strangely enough, some of the band's demo material from their 1985-86 period sounds superior here to the studio album tracks. There are some intros and instrumentals, like "The Gates" which is just drums and mostly inaudible guitar noise, or "Speed Bayer" which is a tiny, festive mix of drums and guitars, but these just feel like a clutter.

In all, this is a fairly miserable experience which sounds like arse, and if you're checking out the band for the first time, I'd advise you make a straight line for Death Squad or their demos and just ignore everything else to come. The sound of the content is so weak that one wonders if there was any legitimate reason to releasing it aside from cashing in on a little nostalgia, whereas the set on Iron Angel's The Tapes at least had a modicum of good sound to herald your thrash back. Do no want. Do not bother.

Verdict: Fail [2.5/10]

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