LIVE – Songs From Black Mountain


Epic / Red Ink
Release Date: May 9, 2006

User Review
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It was 1991 when some fresh-faced kids showed up on MTV’s 120 Minutes with their first single, “Operation Spirit.” Armed with a vision of peace and a seemingly relentless amount of energy, the members of Live left their homes in Pennsylvania and set forth to bring their message to the world. When Throwing Copper was released three years later, Live would enter the realm of platinum selling artist with the single, “Lightning Crashes.” Now some fifteen years and eight albums later, the message is still the same, just a lot clearer.

Songs From Black Mountain is a collection of tunes that walk the spiritual journey and the thought rationale of vocalist Ed Kowalczyk. Since their incarnation, Live has idealized the spirit of unity with “rise against” anthems and tender ballads. As the voyage ventures onward and the questions only seem more complex, Ed has held on to his core beliefs of joy and harmony. Only where he once seemed to question the relevance of divinity, he now seems to embrace theology and is exploring the interaction of man and mysticism. Of course, so many of the lyrics could be interpreted as simple love devotions between two individuals, like when he asks “Where Do We Go From Here.” The timely “Home” is an obvious ode to the current state of the world, with so many men and women engaged in wartime efforts and away from their families. “Wings” seems to be a much more straightforward affirmation to a life hereafter with its lyric “Sometimes you’ve got to die to be born again.”

Without the amazing talents of guitarist Chad Taylor, bassist Patrick Dahlheimer, and drummer Chad Gracey, Kowalczyk’s lyrics would just be the musings of a poet. However, the music has always stood on its own with this band. From the funky bass of “Pain Lies on the River Side,” to the straight-out, fist-pumping “Lakini’s Juice” guitar line, all of the musicians in Live have stood out with their individual contributions. On their latest release, there is a greater maturity; everyone stays the course of the simple song with lots of melody and hooks. Although the lyrics are still weighty and deep, the music here is uplifting and happier than some of the darker corridors the band has ventured down in the past. Here, hope seems to be the theme, lyrically and harmoniously.

There isn’t any filler or meandering on this disc; no jamming or exploring. The songs are very tight and well-structured. None of its twelve tracks stray far from a radio-friendly three and half minutes. With over fifteen years behind them, Live has the luxury to focus on writing good music, void of theatrics and parlor tricks. Candid inward observation and relaxed groove-oriented rhythms make Live’s latest release as strong of an album as any yet released this year.


  • Jeremy Juliano

    Jeremy was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio. He's been involved with and has been following the Metal scene since the early 1980’s. He started out his Metal journey with heavy doses of Maiden, Accept, and Saxon. And in recent years, he has enjoyed the new age of Metal with bands like Hammerfall, Edguy, and Nightwish, to name a few.

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