It's been a fair few years since I last encountered Redemption; specifically, it was at the Dutch Headway festival back in 2007 for their headline performance on the second and final day of the fest. Their current studio album back then was a fairly exhilarating piece of prog metal mastery, 'The Origins of Ruin'. However, that night in the Netherlands, along with tracks from their back catalogue, the material from said album didn't translate too well at all in a live context. The general musicianship was great, although Fates Warning's Ray Alder struggled to hit the higher notes in a rather embarrassing display of unintentional vocal dissonance; a shadow of his one-time singing prowess back in Fates Warning's heyday. Coupled with his "staring at the floor" posture (rumours were rife that he adopted such a pose in order to sing lyrics from sheets placed cunningly behind monitor speakers), and a general lacklustre performance from the entire band, it was a memorable show for all the wrong reasons.
So, 2014 sees Sensory release a CD/DVD package of the band's ProgPower USA performance from two years ago. My expectations were, expectedly, low. And, due to such low expectations, 'Live From The Pit', exceeds what I was expecting, albeit all is far from perfect. Checking out the DVD initially, I can positively report that it's a well-filmed visual document of the show, although both the 5.1 surround and 2.0 stereo mixes are a little shaky in places. Performance-wise, the virtuosity of the musicians is breathtaking throughout (if widdle-infused prog motifs is your thing), although their stage presence is severely lacking. They look so disengaged throughout most of the show. Frontman Alder at least displays some onstage energy, although this is undermined by his, at times, cringe-inducing hit-and-miss vocals, as he manages to hit all kinds of discordant notes. A word too about the authoring of this DVD - awful. Inexcusably awful. It feels like this is a rushed job and rather cheaply/shabbily assembled disc. There's talk of 'bonus materials' in press blurb and on the back cover, but where might these reside? I eventually stumbled on some low-fi club show footage by hitting the up button from one of the menu options and then pressing select, although this was by pure chance, as nothing on the menu screen is highlighted when you do so!?!
The audio disc in this package fares slightly better as there's no distraction by the dullness of Redemption's stage presence, hence the focus becomes purely a music-based one. And the music is great. Redemption are a phenomenally talented bunch of players (even if much of their material slips into the generic prog-metal-by numbers mode), and there's much sonic-candy for the virtuosic-widdling prog fan to feast on here. However, there's always that ever pervasive distraction of Alder's sporadically off-key singing. It aint pretty. In fact, I can only come to the conclusion that Redemption are a great studio band who falter in the live environment. 'Live From The Pit' isn't inherently bad but, at the same time, it in no small way exemplifies just what this band are capable of producing in their studio efforts. As such, I can only recommend this to pre-existing fans of the band; people who perhaps, like me, have lowered expectations for Redemption in a live context.
LIVE FROM THE PIT
Review by Mark Holmes
16th Sept 2014
CD: 1) Intro/Threads; 2) The Suffocating Silence; 3) Dreams from the Pit; 4) Parker's Eyes; 5) Fall On You; 6) Noonday Devil; 7) Nocturnal; 8) Stronger Than Death; 9) The Origins of Ruin; 10) Black and White World; 11) The Death of Faith and Reason; 12) Walls
DVD: Same track listing + bonus materials
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"Redemption are a phenomenally talented bunch of players... However, there's always that ever pervasive distraction of Alder's sporadically off-key singing."