Taking It Down
Live albums are always a mixed bag. On the one hand, a live performance captures the band at its peak, putting everything it has into one hour of savage intensity. On the other, a concert is as much a visual experience as it is an auditory experience, and the camaraderie of attending a show and seeing the band live is always missing from a live record. Diary Of A Mad Band, the latest from supergroup Down, does its best to combat this situation.
Recorded during their 2006 European tour as a CD and DVD, Diary features all the hits from Down’s first two records. The band is in fine form, ripping “Losing All” and “Rehab” with ease. Ever the frontman, Phil Anselmo (of Pantera) incites the crowd to sing along on songs like “New Orleans Is a Dying Whore,” and takes an egotistical jab at doom metal bands on “Eyes Of The South” (“That’s not what it’s about…you gotta have a talented motherfucker like me up here singin’, ha!”). For the crowd-pleasers, especially “Ghosts Along The Mississippi” and “Bury Me In Smoke,” the band pulls out all the stops, unapologetically melting as many faces as possible.
The only place this album suffers is the sound quality. The guitars are often buried, and Rex Brown’s bass is only audible on the quiet songs. As well, Anselmo’s vocals are a bit lacking. The screams are brutal as ever, but the singing is a bit off. Perhaps he was exhausted from a 2 hour show, perhaps he partied a little too hard beforehand, but it’s noticeable. It’s not something that would bother you at the live show, but without the visual aspect, it sticks out.
Fans of the band will want to pick this up, as it includes all the gems, and Anselmo’s unique form of stage banter. Newcomers to the group, however, would do better to start with one of their studio albums, in order to have a frame of reference for the songs. And if you like booze-soaked Southern metal, this isn’t a bad place to be.