LIVESAY – Chronicles (2018)
New York based LIVESAY is a prime example of a band that has flown under the proverbial radar and has self-sustained 4 solid albums: S/T (1996), Darkest Hour (2002), Awaken the Giant (2010) and Frozen Hell (2016), the latter released by Kivel Records, not surprisingly because the band is now more melodic hard rock oriented. “Chronicles” is a new retrospective collection that compiles the very best from the Livesay’s four released albums.
The release features 2 previously unreleased song, plus one new track titled ‘International Man’ presenting new Livesay vocalist Mike Gill.
Founded by ex- Vandals guitarist Gregg Livesay in 1991, the group has opened for a multitude of hard rocks premier acts such as Ronnie James Dio, Y&T, Dokken, Lynch Mob, Ratt, Quiet Riot, Michael Schenker, UFO, and many others. In addition to appearing at the Rock N’ Skull Festival 2 years in a row, they have headlined many times as well. With very little major backing, it’s been a willingness and belief that has driven this band.
Livesay’s sound is not easily classified; musical diversity is what powers these guys. Their origins were influenced by Rainbow / Yngwie Neo-Classical metal, but later added a strong Melodic Hard Rock groove meshed with progressive elements.
“Chronicles” begins with “Live and Let Rock” and “Fallen Nights” which are both unreleased tracks, recorded at the very earl stage of the band in 1992. While perhaps unconventional to open a retrospective with what other bands might use at the end of album as “bonus”, both of these songs stand tall with the other material.
Next, the CD touches on four tracks from the band’s debut, self-titled album ‘Livesay’. “Red Room” is up first, and it showcases the group’s eagerness and hunger to lay down some fire in their first record. Gregg’s solo is jaw dropping, and mesmerizing. Often compared to Yngwie Malmsteen, Gregg Livesay has his own style and technique, but the influence is definitely there.
“Evil Eyes” was the first track I noticed with prominent keyboards, creating an ’80s feeling. The entire band is phenomenal overall, equally as good on their own instruments as Livesay is on guitar. Former vocalist Pete White’s range fit nicely, as did his vocal style.
“No Way Out” in particular, struck me as very Van Halen-ish, with the vocals capturing a David Lee Roth flair for the song. “Under the Table” close out the self-titled era, with fiery riffs to open and fiery solo after fiery solo.
Next, the compilation tackles material from “Darkest Hour”, and opens with a song of the same name. Again featuring prominent keyboards, this one is a slow building, churning song which features some memorable hooks and choruses. Gregg Livesay’s solo here immediately reminded me a bit of Eric Johnson’s tone from “Ah Via Musicom”, yet still maintained his own originality in regard to the actual playing.
“Love & Chains” and “You Won’t See Me Fall” close out the second album’s highlights with technical, melodic hooks and originality.
The album’s trip down nostalgia lane, closes with three songs from “Awaken the Giant”, once again featuring the album’s namesake as the first track and followed with “The Burning Times” and “Aphasia”.
Interestingly, the band’s most recent album 2016’s ‘Frozen Hell’ (featured on this blog) has zero representation here. Seems ‘Chronicles’ is Livesay’s career spanning from their now hard to find three first albums.
The disc close with a new track 2018, the aforementioned ‘International Man’ brings the album to an energetic end. New vocalist Mike Gill fits in well with the band and brings a bit more higher range, a little more growl and swagger. There are hints that a new album from Livesay will follow on the heels of this compilation, and if this new track is an indication, it should be one to eagerly anticipate.
01. Live & Let Rock (unreleased)
02. Fallen Nights (unreleased)
03. Red Room (from Livesay)
04. Evil Eyes (from Livesay)
05. No Way Out (from Livesay)
06. Under The Table (from Livesay)
07. Darkest Hour (from Darkest Hour)
08. Love N’ Chains (from Darkest Hour)
09. You Won’t See Me Fall (from Darkest Hour)
10. Awaken The Giant (from Awaken The Giant)
11. The Burning Times (from Awaken The Giant)
12. Aphasia (from Awaken The Giant)
13. International Man (new song)
G – Gregg Livesay – All Tracks
V – Pete White – Tracks 1-6
V – Anthony Cross – Tracks 7-9
V – Dean Sternberg – Tracks 10-12
V – Mike Gill – Track 13
D – Tim Hunter – Tracks 10-12
D – Keith Michaels – Tracks 1-7, 13
K – Tony Stahl – Tracks 3-13
K – Kenny Mosk – Tracks 1-2
B – Rich Andrews – Track 13
B – Pete Ronda – Tracks 1-6
B – Alan D’Angelo – Tracks 7-12