Sound: Releasing a live CD or DVD has become standard practice for plenty of bands, but in today's industry those concert recordings are becoming much more sanitized during the mixing process. It's not necessarily an uncommon thing for overdubs or other tracks to be added, and some could certainly argue that those tweaks are taking away from the original live quality. Drowning Pool has taken the road less traveled by keeping its latest live CD Loudest Common Denominator a truly raw performance that feels very much like you're at the original show. While it might not be as sleek sounding as some of the other concert releases out today, Loudest Common Denominator does capture the spirit of Drowning Pool's show - rough edges and all.
Recorded at the San Diego tour date in support of the album Full Circle, the nearly hour-long Loudest Common Denominator keeps things fairly straightforward. Guitarist C.J. Pierce mentioned in an interview with Ultimate-Guitar that it was the band's intention to keep it raw, and that Drowning Pool originally had no intention at all of putting out a live CD. The quartet apparently liked the San Diego recording so much that it decided to go forward with it, and the resulting sound is a much grittier, more accurate portrayal of a live show.
In many ways the CD has much more of an in-your-face sound, with the live versions of Bodies, Sinner, and Soldiers feeling more aggressive than the studio recordings. The band is tight and vocalist Ryan McCombs' voice is in prime form, but the imperfect acoustics of playing in a huge venue are definitely present. But once again, that's what most of us have come to expect during a live show and Drowning Pool should be applauded for not covering up the little imperfections with ProTools. Another nice little extra is the troop-related speech (not heard on the album Full Circle) that McCombs delivers during Soldiers. It's far from being preachy, but it still relays a powerful message about the soldiers who return home after they've been injured in war.
Included on Loudest Common Denominator are 2 new acoustic recordings of the tracks 37 Stitches and Shame. In many ways, these songs are the highlight of the CD, if only because they accentuate the musicianship that exists in Drowning Pool. You can hear every nuance with the acoustic guitars, and while it's not quite as powerful as the unplugged sessions by Alice In Chains or Nirvana, the Drowning Pool tracks still show that they can smoothly transition into an area outside of the typical metal format. // 7
Lyrics: All of the songs on Loudest Common Denominator have been heard on past albums, so Drowning Pool fans won't be getting anything new in terms of lyrics. Besides the pro-troop message behind Soldiers, the bulk of the material does talk about fighting adversity and anyone/anything that holds you down. There's not necessarily a lot of variety in lyrical topics, but those who purchase the live CD will already likely be fans that are well-aware of Drowning Pool's musical catalog. // 7
Overall Impression: Drowning Pool does take the novel approach of keeping things true to the actual concert sound on Loudest Common Denominator, and the band definitely deserves credit for going against the grain. With that in mind, you shouldn't expect the best clarity at all times during the concert. However, where there might be slight issues with the mix, the band does make up for it tenfold in delivering an aggressive, memorable performance. // 8