“Live At Hastings” is an upcoming live release on Fractured Mind Records from the UK’s Desolator. These guys play thrash metal that leans more towards the speedy roots of the subgenre (think bands like Razor, the first Metallica record, or even a sped-up Venom). Admittedly I was only familiar with these guys in name prior to hearing this release, but the good news is that you really don’t need to know the studio material to enjoy this release. If there’s one style of metal that is always enjoyable live, it is thrash, and Desolator proves that to be the case here.
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of this release is the bass playing. As a 3-piece, Desolator relies on their bassist a lot, and he always has an interesting line to deliver. He’s incredibly up front in the mix, as you’ll notice on tracks like “Beer Brain” and “Escape Velocity”. Despite this fact, the band might actually be better off with a second guitarist. This is because whenever their 6-stringer unleashes a solo, the rhythm section feels a little empty. Nevertheless, your focus should be on what he’s playing because the solos on this release are incredibly tight, despite this being a live album. In fact, that statement could be applied to the entire performance.
This release is very true to the live format. Unlike the vast majority of live albums out there, you can tell this hasn’t been extensively edited because there’s no crowd noise pumped in (there really isn’t much crowd noise at all). While the production is definitely worse than a studio record would be, and also not as great as high budget live records, everything is still clear enough to hear. It’s certainly a lot better than it would sound in the venue (I say this after recovering from seeing 4 concerts in the last week).
Another aspect that really makes this record come alive is the vocal performance. While Desolator’s singer primarily has a typical thrash grunt to his voice, he injects a ton of higher-pitched screams. There’s no apparent pattern to them, making these screams feel random (and therefore, more hilarious). Even though you can barely hear the crowd, he sounds like he does a great job of getting them riled up, though it would be difficult to avoid headbanging furiously to the band’s hyper-speed cover of Motorhead’s “Iron Fist”. All in all, this is a very satisfying live release. It is likely not the best place to start with the band, as it can be hard to get a feel for the songs themselves, but it definitely demonstrates the band’s ability to thrash hard.
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3.75/5 or 75%.
Written by Scott