Sound — 6
It's that kind of age when you start to seeing your live differently and that reflects upon everything you do. Members of Live, being in their early 30s, release a new album Songs From A Black Mountain, which should mark a new beginning for the band. With this seventh studio album Chad Taylor (guitar), Patrick Dahlheimer (bass), Chad Gracey (drums), and Ed Kowalczyk (vocals) close the chapter and start it all over again, with a new producer Jim Wirt (Incubus, Hoobastank) and with a new record label Epic.
Unlike its haunting name, the album turns out to be very light and easygoing. It's really hard to find anything that would connect the songs with the black mountain. Instead of that there's a record full of romantic rock songs about love. For their rebirth the band has chosen a new style -- more mellow and restrained with la-la-la and oooh, baby songs. It looks pretty much as the record was borrowed from the '90s when mushy pop in the UK got it's peak. There are a few driving guitars with a rock feel, which sound a bit funny along with all these pop melodies and light drums. Though all by themselves there are some pretty cool guitar hooks. All the instruments are done very skill-wise, but it's the vocals that stay on the same level all through the song. I would say most tracks are below mediocre level, though with a few good melody lines. Among usual love-songs there's a song in which Kowalczyk talks to his daughters about Jesus (Love Shines (A Song For My Daughters About God)) and an anti-war anthem -- tearful Being afraid to get involved into any political Iraq stuff, the author claims the song is about stopping all the wars in general.
All I Need has one of the cheesiest tempo changes I've ever heard. Who would slow down the song right before the chorus and then play it faster again in the verse? Live would. If you have any music background, Songs From The Black Mountain wouldn't be of any interest to you (well, maybe only if somebody from the band is the guy you once dated).
Lyrics — 5
Lyrics are more than obvious at times. Like, The future is now/The past is gone forever -- anybody doubted that? And right after that Can come together/The light is our way -- is there anything more cliched than that?
Ed Kowalcyzk's unemotional voice doesn't really express any feelings (yelling in doesn't count). It's more like's pushed to sing and the producer has to add various effects to vocals to make it sound like a song about Something. Mystery has some of falsetto singing during the chorus, which is my only excitement about vocals. Not that it's too impressive either.
Overall Impression — 5
Overall I should say it's not Really bad, it's just a Weirdly bad record from a band like Live. Most of the tracks on Songs From The Black Mountain are catchy and it's that case of when one damn line keeps playing in your head forever. It's a good summer soundtrack if you're in a good mood. If you're not, the record would annoy you with every next song.
That was my friend's excitement about the record that made me hope it's gonna be good. But I failed in my hopes. Live still live up on the 10-year-old success of their Throwing Copper. Maybe it's Kowalczyk's spiritual experiences that suddenly has gone Zen Buddhism and very down-to-earth, but the music has lost its sprit. New record can insult the old fans of the band by it's primitivism. Get Ready is the proud winner to showcase how bad things turned out to be for Live. The era of post-grunge and fights has gone -- the creative force of the band Kowalczyk is now a father and a husband -- excitement on how to make a good party have changed to worries on how to make kids go to bed.