Subsignal return with their first live release in 8 years. Coming off the support tour for their latest release, La Muerta, the band are in top form and blaze through a career spanning set and show just what they are about.
I had the privilege to see them at ProgPower USA this past year and was blown away. I’ve always loved their music and sound, but their live presence just kicked everything up a notch. And the set we have here is pretty much the same one we got at ProgPower, with a few changes and a bit longer. So… MORE!
And seeing as how live albums are always a little iffy to review for me, I will make this easy for ya’ll. If you know who Subsignal are and what they sound like, just know this is a great sounding live album with the band sounding fantastic. If you aren’t familiar with them, then read on…
We are eased into the show with the opening notes of Touchstones, all calm and soothing and then kicking in with the guitars and continuing in an almost album perfect rendition.
One of my favorite songs of theirs, Ashes of Summer, is next and it is just as lively, melodic, and driving as its album counterpart. The airy nature to this live version is a perfect fit. If there was ever a song that should have been a rock radio hit of theirs, it was this one. This album just screams to be listened to outside. Another summer evening album!
The first new song (off the latest album) of the set, The Bells of Lyonesse, and it sounds great in the live setting. Perfect show case for their gift of melody. The chorus just soars. And as I mentioned before about the perfect song for rock radio, this latest album is full of them. It is seriously a crime they are not bigger than they are now.
The Sea comes in next and highlights how great the drums sound here. Love the ocean waves breaking, too. This also shows how in sync these guys are. The vocals are spot on with the harmonies and Arno really shines here. And the Rush-ness in their sound, especially with that guitar tone, really comes out here too.
Walking with Ghosts is a more brooding track with a nice crunchy guitar in just the right places to add to the ambiance. And dare I say it again… melody!
Once again, the Rush vibe is shining through on Even though the Stars Don’t Shine. This is such an upbeat and mood-lifting song and I love it in all its incarnations. You can’t NOT sing along with this one.
The Passage is up next and is as bombastic as ever. Subsignal have a great knack for recreating the album versions of their songs live. This is exactly what I, personally, look for in a live show. The press release mentions that the band wasn’t trying to do this at all or try to be perfect with it. But, I swear, all the little flourishes that are present on the album are present here and sync my memories up with what I’m hearing. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate when artists change things up for themselves, but when my expectations are met with a presentation… I don’t know… endorphins? We are also treated to a great drum solo in this song. The keys sound fantastic here too! The band really are on fire.
The title track from their latest studio album, La Muerta rips along in all its singable glory and, yes, that Rush guitar tone. Another highlight!
And My Sanctuary carries us on in some more 80’s Rush influenced feels with some big choruses. Love that airy guitar in this one with the crowd clapping along. I can close my eyes and it feels like I’m there.
And, closing the album, Paradigm follows and just oozes their great penchant for melody. My only complaint here is the guitar seems to have a lack of bite when it should sound heavier but it does sound great with the solos.
So, there you go. This album serves as a great selection of the band where they are now in their career. If you are a fan, this will go great in your collection as a nice slice of a live experience for a band that it isn’t so easy to see live, at least in the US. And if you aren’t familiar with them, this would be a good place to start. Or if you don’t care for live albums, there is always the collection of songs released recently, A Canopy of Stars, that will be a good intro, though without any of the new stuff.